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 9, inclusive, answered orally.

Departmental Agencies

Bernard Allen

Question:

10 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of enterprise agencies and their existing structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45354/10]

Each of the enterprise development agencies have a core area of focus which enables them to build a depth of relevant expertise and understanding of the enterprise cohort for which they are responsible, and to focus their own resources to best effect. I am sure the Deputy will agree that it is important to ensure that both the structures for delivery and the programmes being delivered are providing the best possible supports for business.

The Forfás report, ‘Making it Happen: Growing Enterprise for Ireland', has identified some areas where interventions need to intensify in order to deliver more effective support for enterprise growth in the current climate including, Building on Sectoral Strengths and Realising Potential in New Activities, Supporting Competitiveness at Firm Level and Enhanced Agency Collaboration. The enterprise development agencies have, as a matter of course, collaborated extensively on an on-going basis through a range of formal and informal mechanisms. In 2009, my Department established a High Level Group comprising representatives of each agency to identify areas for further collaboration. In addition to involving my own Department's agencies, the High Level Group also includes a representative from Udarás na Gaeltachta.

The Group has made progress in a number of areas, for example in ensuring that access to supports is defined by business need rather than agency "ownership", in enhanced sharing of information, and in identifying initiatives to maximise potential synergies between foreign and indigenous firms. The Group will continue to identify areas where agency collaboration can be strengthened and where the effectiveness of support to enterprises can be improved.

Forfás, working with officials from my Department, is at present developing a system wide evaluation framework incorporating enterprise policy, programme and project elements. The framework will be designed to measure ex-ante and ex-post the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of policy objectives/delivery, and will be developed by early 2011. The programme evaluations will ensure that the programmes managed by the enterprise development agencies operating under my Department's remit deliver on defined objectives, and that they are efficiently and effectively delivered. The first programme evaluations carried out under the new framework are expected to be completed in the first half of 2011. As already indicated, I intend bringing proposals to Government shortly in relation to the restructuring of the City and County Enterprise Boards.

Proposed Legislation

Sean Sherlock

Question:

11 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he intends to publish legislation to address employee representation at work which was promised by June 2009 under the review of Towards 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45538/10]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

17 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans to publish anti-victimisation legislation, designed to protect those workers who choose to join a trade union and which was promised by March 2009 under the review of Towards 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45554/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 17 together.

TheTowards 2016 Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009 (paras 9.1-9.3) provides for the establishment of a review process to consider the legal and other steps necessary to enable the employee representation mechanisms that had been established under previous agreements — and in legislation — to operate as they had been intended. The Agreement (para 9.4) also commits the Government to bringing forward legislative proposals to prohibit the victimisation of trade union members and to prohibit the incentivisation of persons not to be members of a trade union.

In furtherance to these commitments, two informal meetings took place late last year, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach and at which my Department; the Department of Finance; trade unions; and employers were represented. Position papers were prepared by the employer and trade union representatives on the issues which they saw as requiring to be addressed by any new legislation in this area. While consideration will continue within Government on proposals to address the issues involved, progress in bringing the work to a conclusion will have to take account of other priority legislative commitments to be delivered in the employment area, resource constraints within Departments, and the extent of agreement between the trade union and employer sides in this area.

National Recovery Plan

Mary Upton

Question:

12 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way he intends to achieve the savings of €2.4 million in funding for science, technology and innovation, set out in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45531/10]

Investment in science, technology and innovation is key to our economic recovery, growth and national competitiveness. Evidence across global economies shows that there is a clear link between investment in research and development, leading to innovation, and the expansion of that economy. For this reason the Government has provided a very significant level of funding for Science Technology and Innovation investment in the Four-year National Recovery Plan, published on 24 November, in order to restore confidence, create jobs and drive economic recovery.

A sizable public and private research capacity has been built up over the last decade and the National Recovery Plan will provide significant capital funding through IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland over the four years 2011 to 2014, to support and augment this capacity. This increased investment will underpin the effort of enterprise agencies Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, working to the research and innovation agenda, that will help drive competitiveness and recovery in the domestic economy, continue to win foreign direct investments and create high quality jobs in the Smart economy. In addition, funding for IDA Ireland will be protected up to 2016. In recent years nearly half of the IDA investments were in research development and innovation, activities that are central to productivity and new business development in Ireland's multinational sector.

Irish companies have shown that, despite the downturn, they can grow exports and sustain and even grow employment levels. This has been achieved by companies that have engaged in research and innovation undertaken by highly skilled researchers collaborating with industry partners. Support for such activity will continue to be a core investment priority for the Government so as to create a competitive advantage that will be an important driver of economic recovery and growth.

In tandem with the very significant increase in capital investment provided in the National Recovery Plan, the Vote of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation area will contribute savings across a range of programmes , including a savings of €2.4 million from the science, technology and innovation area.

These savings will be derived, in the main part, from reducing operating costs within Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland and in achieving efficiencies and some programme reduction within the Department's area of operations. The Agencies will be required to achieve further reductions to their travel and IT budgets, to reduce fixed costs wherever possible, and to scale back operating costs in an intelligent way that will minimize the impact on the service they deliver. Within my Department's own budget, savings will be achieved by reducing the spending on STI evaluation exercises and by scaling back the budget of the Discover Science and Engineering programme in the order of 10%.

As in other areas of public spending, the State is seeking more from less in relation to operating and programme costs and Departments and State Agencies are working continuously to maximise efficiencies in order to make this happen. The National Recovery Plan will provide a significant increase in capital funding for the Research and innovation area and at the same time will balance the need for savings in a way that is least harmful to Ireland's commitment to research and development and to producing world class researchers — one of our biggest selling points for new Foreign Direct Investment.

EU Directives

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

13 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation in respect of EU directives for which he has responsibility, the number remaining to be implemented; the directives that are now overdue; the number of reasoned opinions received from the EU Commission since 2002 regarding delays or non-implementation of such directives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45555/10]

There are Twelve EU Directives due to be transposed by my Department. Two of these Directives are currently overdue. Directive 2009/125/EC establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products was due to be transposed on 20 November 2010. However, it is now anticipated that it will be transposed early in the New Year. In addition, my Department is also working, in cooperation with the Department of Transport, on the transposition of Directive 2008/68/EC on the inland transport of dangerous goods.

My Department has dealt with a total of 28 Reasoned Opinions from the EU Commission since 2002 of which two are currently live. A Reasoned Opinion was received on 24 June 2010 regarding the non — transposition of the Services Directive 2006/123/EC. This Directive was fully transposed on 23 November last. A Reasoned Opinion has also been issued by the EU Commission on Directive 2008/68/EC on the inland transport of dangerous goods. It is intended that this Directive will be transposed by year-end.

Full details of the state of play of all current Directives due for transposition are maintained on the Department's website, www.deti.ie. The transposition of EU Directives is an ongoing priority in my Department and is reported to the Management Board on a regular basis.

Business Regulation

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

14 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the progress made to date in reducing the regulatory burden on businesses by 25%; the timeframe for the completion of this; the actions taken so far; the actions yet to be taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45499/10]

International benchmarking statistics reveal that Ireland imposes a relatively low burden of regulation on business. The Forfás Annual Competitiveness Report 2010 states that Ireland's regulatory environment is one of the least restrictive in the OECD in relation to product market regulation, the time taken to comply with tax payments is one of the lowest in the OECD across all categories and Ireland's employment framework is less rigid than the OECD average.

The work to reduce red tape in Ireland is being progressed on two fronts. The High Level Group on Business Regulation works to fast-track simplifications to specific red tape issues identified by business; and an Inter-Departmental Group of officials from all Departments, having regulation affecting business, coordinates the measurement and reduction of administrative burdens in a systematic manner, based on the internationally recognized Standard Cost Model. The Government has decided in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 to bring forward the targeted 25% reduction of the regulatory burden on business from 2012 to end 2011.

To date the High Level Group has processed thirty specific red tape issues brought to its attention by business and continues to drive progress on a further thirty-eight items. The Group announced over €20m of annual business savings in its first Report and continues to work with business interests to identify opportunities for simplification. In addition, my Department is in the process of measuring other burden reductions achieved across Government. The results of this measurement exercise are expected to be published in the second half of 2011. Recent measurements by my Department have demonstrated a further potential €32.7m of savings for business, resulting from simplification in the company law area.

The measurement of administrative burdens using the Standard Cost Model is an exercise that was called for by business, as part of the 25% administrative burden reduction programme, and is being carried out on a prioritised basis across all Departments with any substantive regulation that affects business. My Department and the Central Statistics Office have already measured burdens arising from regulations under their responsibility and all other Departments will shortly measure the current costs on business arising from their regulation. Measurement is expected to be completed in 2011; simplification plans will then be developed and implemented.

Business workshops have already been held to identify ideas for simplification in the areas of Company Law and Employment Law and Health & Safety Law, and draft simplification plans are currently being prepared for implementation.

Innovation Fund Ireland

Deirdre Clune

Question:

15 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the progress to date in establishing the €250 million innovation fund overseen by Enterprise Ireland; and the number of new projects funded and their aggregate employment potential. [45368/10]

I announced the first call for expressions of interest in Innovation Fund Ireland on 23 September 2010. Enterprise Ireland and the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) will manage the Fund and investors had until 26th November 2010 to signal their interest in establishing a presence here. Now that this deadline has passed, Enterprise Ireland and the NPRF are now commencing the process of evaluating the applications.

Innovation Fund Ireland will have up to €250 million available to make commitments. This funding runs along two parallel tracks. The first comprises a €125 million pool of funds provided by the Exchequer and managed by Enterprise Ireland. Successful applicants who receive an investment from Enterprise Ireland will have to commit to investing an equivalent amount in Irish companies or companies with substantial Irish operations over the lifetime of their fund. The second is for a similar amount and designed to allow Ireland's National Pensions Reserve Fund to make a similar level of commercial investments assuming its criteria are met. The National Pensions Reserve Fund announced its first investments under the ‘Innovation Fund Ireland' on 7 October 2010.

The establishment of Innovation Fund Ireland builds on existing enterprise policies including the Government's continued commitment to the Irish venture capital sector through Enterprise Ireland. It is part of a suite of policy initiatives to position Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub. The objective of the Fund is not just to increase the availability of capital but also to transform the market by attracting top tier Fund managers to Ireland.

The Funds will invest in Europe with a focus on Ireland. Over the lifetime of the Funds, the State envisages making a return on its investment and in terms of economic growth where the Funds invest in Irish start-up, scaling companies or companies with operations in Ireland the State can expect to see an increase in employment; an increase in the number of high potential start-ups; the attraction of high potential start up and scaling European technology and life science companies requiring growth capital investment to Ireland; increased commercialisation of the ideas and R&D coming out of the Universities and Institutes of Technology in line with the Government's Strategy for Science and Technology and the persistence of Ireland as a centre for technology, life sciences and venture capital investment within Europe through multiple fund iterations.

The Government is committed to increasing the number and scale of innovation driven and high-growth businesses in Ireland and a dynamic and progressive venture capital market is a prerequisite in this endeavour. This Fund is further evidence of the Government's continued commitment to generate high quality jobs in Ireland.

National Recovery Plan

Mary Upton

Question:

16 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way he intends to achieve the savings in his Department’s Vote set out in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45530/10]

The National Recovery Plan sets out the strategy to underpin Ireland's economic recovery with the aim of restoring stability to the public finances, improving Ireland's cost competitiveness, stimulating enterprise growth and job creation. As part of the Plan, the Government has prioritised capital investment for the Enterprise Agencies over the next four years with the provision of €2.2 billion. This will enable the agencies to support Irish businesses, win new foreign direct investment and support research, development and innovation.

In order to restore stability to the public finances, savings have to be made across the public sector. The Enterprise area will contribute €47 million of current savings by 2014. Achieving the savings target will require adjustments in current pay and non-pay spending of the Department and the agencies under its aegis. I will be prioritizing funding for those areas of activity that directly support the Government's overall growth strategy. I will be seeking to achieve efficiencies wherever possible to contribute to the overall savings target. Full details of allocations will be identified in the 2011 Estimates which will be published shortly.

Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 11.

Departmental Staff

Joe McHugh

Question:

18 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the staff reductions planned in his Department and its agencies by the end of 2011 and if these are being secured through specific reorganisation. [45414/10]

The Employment Control Framework for my Department and the agencies under its aegis provides for an overall reduction of 123 staff by end 2011 from the numbers serving at end September 2010. These staff reductions will be secured through natural wastage and the non-filling of vacancies.

Departmental Bodies

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

19 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the role he will play in the implementation of the recently published plan, Trading and Investment in a Smart Economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45540/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

34 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the membership of the foreign trade council established under the Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy strategy; the number of times this group has met; the number of times he has met with this group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45495/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

42 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the progress being made by the foreign trade council established under the Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy strategy in implementing the strategy; if he will provide a report on all actions taken so far by the group in moving the strategy forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45496/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 34 and 42 together.

The new Strategy specifies that the Minister for Trade and Commerce, my colleague, Mr. Billy Kelleher TD, will chair the new Foreign Trade Council. While I have been very closely involved in the development of the Strategy and I will continue to work on pursuing its strategic priorities and targets, it will be Minister Kelleher who will principally drive its implementation and chair the new Foreign Trade Council.

The new Council brings together all of the key Departments and State agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade, tourism and investment. The role of the Council is to drive implementation of the strategy through a suite of actions in our key priority markets, both existing and high-potential, as set out in the strategy and action plan. It will also strengthen cooperation and coordination across all the key State agencies.

The Council's membership comprises the CEOs of the following State Agencies, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Forfas, Science Foundation Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland and Culture Ireland, in addition to senior level representatives of the following Departments: Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation, Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of An Taoiseach, Department of Education and Skills and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The Council held its first meeting on 27th October last, when it discussed the current state of play of a number of the actions set out in the action plan, including maximising the impact of integrated trade missions, promoting Ireland through St Patrick's Day, making better use of our current joint Economic Commissions, increasing coordination between the agencies at field level etc, and any further initiatives required for their implementation. The Department of Justice and Law Reform briefed the Council on progress towards the establishment of a new mechanism to align our visa regime with the priorities set out in the strategy.

The Council finalised its direction and guidance to the local Trade, Tourism and Investment Teams, which are being set up in each of Ireland's overseas priority markets. The Ambassadors in each of these markets are required to complete their local market plan by the end of the year. These and other relevant issues will be kept under review and monitored by the Council, whose next meeting is due in early 2011.

Credit Availability

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

20 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding his discussions with the main banks to ensure that credit is made available to all businesses and particularly to small and medium sized enterprises; when he last met the banks to discuss these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45541/10]

I last met with Bank of Ireland on 8 September 2010 and AIB on 9 November 2010. At both of these meetings the banks confirmed that they were open for business and that they intend to meet their commitments regarding lending to the SME sector as set out in the 2010 recapitalisation package of 30 March 2010. Under this recapitalisation arrangement, AIB and Bank of Ireland have both committed to making available not less than €3 billion each for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs in both 2010 and 2011. This must include funds for working capital for businesses.

I have ongoing contact with the main banks in relation to their lending to businesses and will, together with my colleague the Minister for Finance, and John Trethowan of the Credit Review Office, continue to ensure that they meet their lending commitments under the 2010 recapitalisation package in terms of providing sufficient credit to the business sector. In this regard, as part of his Second Quarterly Report on SME Lending published on 18 November 2010, John Trethowan indicated that each of the banks have shown a positive attitude to the Credit Review Office appeals process, and the banks' Executives have been asked to ensure that this attitude is shared with their front-line staff. He also stated that the current market perceptions that banks are not lending to SMEs is based on experiences from six to nine months ago, and the current situation whilst still not entirely perfect, is now continually improving.

National Minimum Wage

Seymour Crawford

Question:

21 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the analysis that he has undertaken of the job impact of reducing the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45377/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

37 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the discussions he has had with the National Competitiveness Council regarding the proposed change in the national minimum wage; if he has received any request from the council to reduce the level of the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45529/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 37 together.

A recent study entitled "Review of Labour Force Competitiveness", undertaken by Forfás for my Department, concluded that while 4.9 percent of employees in Ireland (83,700) were earning €8.65 per hour or less in October 2007, it is likely that the national minimum wage actually influences the wage levels of another 26 per cent of the labour force. On that basis it is estimated that the national minimum wage may affect the wages of all those within a range of 1.5 times the national minimum wage. The report is published on the Forfás website.

The Forfás report found that the national minimum wage impacts on sectors in different ways — sectors such as wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, and other services sectors tend to have significantly more workers engaged on or just above the national minimum wage than internationally trading sectors. While the sectors and occupations where the greatest job losses have occurred generally coincide with the sectors where the national minimum wage is most prevalent, these sectors have also experienced a major collapse in demand for their output.

I met with the Forfás Board to discuss a number of issues including this report. I have not had any discussions with the National Competitiveness Council regarding the proposed adjustment to the national minimum wage. I have not received a request from the Council to reduce the level of the national minimum wage.

Live Register

Brian O'Shea

Question:

22 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the steps he is taking to combat the continuing high level of unemployment in view of the fact that the live register figures have now been in excess of 400,000 since June 2009 and ongoing announcements of job losses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45546/10]

Specific activation policies, or measures targeted at the unemployed are the responsibility of my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Ms. Mary Coughlan TD, through skills provision, employment programmes and work placements. Questions relating to the specific programmes should be addressed to the Tánaiste and her Department. The role of my Department is to ensure that we have the right policies in place that will support and grow our enterprise base in order to facilitate both job creation and job retention.

The State Development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, and the County and City Enterprise Boards are continuing to drive and promote enterprise development, and consequently employment creation in our economy. IDA Ireland continues to market and promote Ireland for inward investment. Indeed, earlier this week, on 30 November, global management consultancy Accenture, an IDA client company that already employs 1,300 people in Ireland, announced the creation of an additional 100 jobs at a new centre in Dublin.

Enterprise Ireland is actively focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new high potential start-up companies, and the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies. The agency also continues to work with community groups around the country to develop community enterprise centres designed to foster micro enterprises. The County and City Enterprise Boards support the micro enterprise sector — businesses with 10 employees or less — in the start-up and expansion phases and promotes entrepreneurship at local level.

Job creation is a key priority of Government policy. The Government is working on a multi-faceted approach focusing on enterprise development and job creation. In September, the Taoiseach launched the five-year integrated Government plan for trade, tourism and investment aimed at generating 300,000 jobs. The new plan,“Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy”, is the first integrated strategy to promote overseas trade, tourism and investment. With this new strategy, the Government aims to position Ireland for strong export-led growth to 2015, resulting in high levels of job creation. The plan aims to create over 150,000 direct new jobs (IDA Ireland 75,000, Enterprise Ireland 60,000, tourism 15,000) in manufacturing, tourism and internationally trading services, with another 150,000 spin-off jobs.

In addition to delivering programmes through the Enterprise Development agencies, my Department also works across Government to ensure that Ireland regains competitiveness, including cost competitiveness, thus improving the business environment and enabling companies to successfully compete internationally and grow jobs.

Job Losses

Sean Sherlock

Question:

23 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to reports that up to 10,000 jobs could be lost in the Irish banking sector over the next six months; his views on the implications for unemployment of the loss of such a large number of jobs; if he has sought any information from the banks on the level of job losses planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45539/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 125 of 13 October 2010 to Deputy Jack Wall on the issue of job losses in the banking sector and the State support mechanisms in place to assist unemployed persons to return to employment. I met with both BOI and AIB to discuss their restructuring plans in recent months. The recently published Programme for Recovery of the Banking System provides for the restructuring and reorganisation of the banking sector. I will keep the situation under review and ensure State services are coordinated as necessary to support those who lose their jobs.

European Patents

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

24 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the reasons he has not ratified the agreement on the application of Article 65 of the convention on the grant of European patents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45645/10]

Article 65 of the European Patent Convention (EPC) provides that any Contracting State may require a translation of the text of a European patent into one of its languages if that language is different from the language in which the patent was granted. The European patent system is expensive. Following grant of the patent, the applicant must file translations of the complete patent in whichever States are designated for protection. The cost of the translations must be borne by the applicant. The translation costs make up a very sizeable portion of the costs of acquiring a European patent and, as a result, the European patent is uncompetitive when compared to the cost of obtaining US and Japanese patents.

At an inter-Governmental conference in 1999 a working party was mandated to examine how the translation costs for European patents into the official languages of the contracting states could be reduced by approximately 50%. This working party produced the London Agreement on the Application of Article 65 of the European Patent Convention, which was adopted in London on 17 October 2000. The London Agreement, which is a voluntary Agreement, provides that Member States of the EPC, who have a language in common with the European Patent Office, as Ireland does, would agree to dispense with requirements in relation to the translation of specifications of patents granted in the other two working languages of the EPO. So far, 15 out of the 38 contracting Member States to the EPC have ratified/acceded to the Agreement.

In 2008, my Department undertook a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) to consider whether Ireland should accede to the London Agreement and it concluded that Ireland should accede to the Agreement. The main advantage of the Agreement for Irish inventors and industry seeking patent protection abroad, is that they would no longer be required to furnish translations to the same extent in those countries party to the agreement.

For Ireland, to accede to the London Agreement it is necessary to amend Sections 119 and 121 of the Patents Act, 1992, to align with the terms of the London Agreement. In this respect, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the Patents (Amendment) Bill, 2010 will be published in the very near future.

County Enterprise Boards

Denis Naughten

Question:

25 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the steps he is taking to support the role of County Enterprise Boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45445/10]

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. In the current economic climate entrepreneurship, and the growth and development of small Irish businesses, is central to economic recovery and it is essential that Irish enterprises continue to be supported. The CEBs play a key role in this regard and their priorities for 2010 are to assist owner/managers in enhancing the survival and sustainability of their businesses in these difficult economic times and to assist people wishing to start their own business including those made redundant. The objective is to see as many of these micro start-ups as possible developing into companies with strong job creation and export potential, at which point they transfer to the Enterprise Ireland client portfolio.

To enable the CEBs to fulfil their role I secured funding of over €28m for the network of CEBs under the 2010 Estimates of which €14.9m has been allocated for Capital expenditure. This has been further supplemented by an additional €3.3m secured from savings elsewhere in my Department. During 2010 the CEBs will ensure that this funding is targeted to maximise entrepreneurial development. This will be done not just by direct grant aid to businesses and project promoters but also through the provision of a range of other important business supports such as mentoring, business training and business advice all of which help to stimulate indigenous enterprise creation.

My Department, in association with the CEB Central Coordination Unit within Enterprise Ireland (CCU), and with the CEB network, will continue to monitor the level of funding and range of support services offered by the CEBs to the micro-enterprise sector. I am also keen to ensure that the synergies between the CEBs and Enterprise Ireland are maximised, and that engagement with the development agencies is as seamless as possible for all small businesses including the important micro sector. I will shortly be bringing a Memorandum to the Government in this regard.

Economic Competitiveness

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

26 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the progress made regarding the commitment given in the renewed programme for Government to act on recommendations contained in reports of the Competition Authority within nine months of their publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45544/10]

In keeping with the commitment contained in theRenewed Programme for Government, the Government earlier this year reviewed the progress achieved by a number of Government Departments in relation to a list of Competition Authority recommendations which had been prioritised based on their impact on competitiveness. A Government Statement on the progress made issued in April. The Government has decided that it will review, twice-yearly, progress on the implementation of Competition Authority recommendations and, in line with this decision, I will be updating the Government in the coming weeks on the progress achieved to date.

Business Regulation

Liz McManus

Question:

27 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the status of the work of the company law review group; the timeframe for the publication of legislation following the reports of the group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45549/10]

In accordance with Section 70(1) of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001, the Company Law Review Group's (CLRG) Work Programme is assigned by the Minister of State in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (Minister Billy Kelleher) every two years. The Review Group is currently working on its 2010-2012 Work Programme (www.clrg.org) which was assigned to it in March 2010.

While there is no obligation on my part to legislate in respect of any recommendation from the CLRG, the main focus of the Group's work to date has been in relation to the General Scheme of the Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill which was published in July 2007. The proposed Bill will consolidate all the existing Irish Companies Acts, dating from 1963 to 2009, as well as other Regulations and common law provisions relating to the incorporation and operation of companies into a single Act, comprising more than 1,300 sections. Given its size and complexity it is envisaged that the Bill will be published in 2012.

Redundancy Payments

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

28 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the total number of claims for redundancy payments waiting to be processed at the latest date for which figures are available; the average time taken to process a claim; the steps being taken to speed up the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45553/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

45 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation in respect of each year from 2002 to 2009 and to date in 2010, the number of redundancies notified to his Department; the number of projected redundancies for the full year of 2010; the amount of money paid out in statutory redundancy payments in respect of each year from 2002 to 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45536/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 45 together.

My Department currently administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social Protection. 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.

Table 1 sets out the number of statutory redundancy claims received in the years 2002 to 2009 and provisional figures for January to October 2010. These figures reflect the number of employees who actually qualified for statutory redundancy lump sum payments. They do not reflect those who lost their jobs with less than two years service in employment. It is not possible to project the number of redundancies that will arise in 2010 as this will depend on a number of factors, including economic factors and the rate of recovery in the economy. However, it is clear from the statistics available for the first ten months of 2010 that there is a welcome fall off in the level of new claims being lodged with my Department. In the ten-month period January to October 2010, there was an average fall off in claims received of 23% when compared with the corresponding ten-month period in 2009 — 51,385 as against 66,989 — with the claims fall off particularly in evidence in October 2010 with a 40% reduction in new claims received.

Table 2 sets out the monies paid out of the Social Insurance Fund in respect of redundancy claims for the years 2002-2009 and up to 31 October, 2010. It should be noted that all figures provided for 2009 and to date in 2010 are provisional figures. It is not possible to project the amount that will be paid out in 2010 on redundancy claims as this will hinge on a number of variables including the number of claims received, the length of service of individual claimants etc.

The Redundancy Payments Section of my Department is currently processing claims in general dating from May 2010 so that the waiting time is currently around 6 months. Of course in some instances, where the necessary supporting documentation for lump sum claims is not provided to my Department, or where queries arise, processing of claims can be further delayed until the required documentation is provided and/or outstanding queries are resolved.

Efforts continue to be made by my Department to reduce claims processing times. Measures already taken in the Department to alleviate the pressures on the Payments area include:

Almost doubling the number of staff working solely on redundancy payment claims through reassignment to a current level of 52 full time equivalents;

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

Establishment of a special call handling facility in NERA to deal with the huge volume of telephone calls from people and businesses concerned about their payments;

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 existing outstanding tax liabilities which those employers owe to the Revenue Commissioners.

Whilst the backlog of claims and waiting times remain at unacceptable levels, improvements are evident. In 2009, my Department processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on the previous year. Furthermore, the level of new claims processed in the first ten months of 2010 was 63,484 — up over 66% on the corresponding ten-month period in 2009 (38,149) and surpassing the total amount of claims processed for the full year 2009. The backlog of claims is decreasing — reducing from its highest level in November 2009 of 43,608 to a level of 28,300 at the end of October 2010. I expect that the claims backlog will reduce to somewhere between 25,000 and 26,000 by year end.

Responsibility for the payment functions arising under the Redundancy and Insolvency payment schemes is due to be transferred to the Department of Social Protection with effect from 1 January 2011. In transferring the functions between Departments, it is the intention that this will operate seamlessly and without any adverse impact on the service levels being experienced by individuals or the business community awaiting payment of redundancy claims.

Table 1: Actual Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2009 and up to end October, 2010

Year

Number of Redundancy Claims

2002

24,432

2003

25,769

2004

25,041

2005

23,156

2006

23,684

2007

25,459

2008

40,607

2009

77,001

2010

51,385*

*Provisional figures.

Table 2: Expenditure on Statutory Redundancies for years 2002 to 2009 and up to end October, 2010

Year

Expenditure on Statutory Redundancy

2002

53,978

2003

88,933

2004

152,162

2005

149,172

2006

166,483

2007

183,328

2008

193,711

2009

335,861*

2010

403,850*

*All figures for 2009 and 2010 are provisional subject to audit.

Retail Sector

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

29 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his views on amending the law to require major retail companies operating here to publish company accounts to establish the level of profits they are making, particularly in view of reports that one major retailer (details supplied) makes greater profits here than in any other part of its global empire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45556/10]

Companies in Ireland are free to establish and organise themselves in the most suitable form to promote and run their businesses, provided that they comply fully with relevant national and EU legislation. The requirements regarding the preparation and publication of the accounts of limited companies and groups are determined by the First, Fourth and Seventh EU Company Law Directives and by the EU IFRS Regulations. These requirements are largely reflected in the Companies Act, 1963, the Companies (Amendment) Act 1986 and the European Communities (Companies: Group Accounts) Regulations 1992, as amended.

The EU Eleventh Company Law Directive, implemented as the European Communities (Branch Disclosures) Regulations, 1993, addresses the requirements applicable to branches of EEA companies. Irish subsidiaries of EEA companies can submit the audited group accounts of their parent to the Registrar of Companies instead of their own individual accounts provided certain conditions are met. EEA companies that have an Irish branch are required to submit only the company accounts to the Registrar of Companies. Irish companies that are subsidiaries of EEA companies and which are themselves parent companies need not produce consolidated accounts provided certain conditions are met. There are similar provisions for subsidiaries of non-EEA companies. In such cases the consolidated accounts of the EEA or non-EEA group must be submitted to the Registrar of Companies.

I consider that a sector-specific disclosure regime such as that suggested in the question would be open to accusations of discrimination and, were it to be required generally in the economy, it could have implications in terms of business costs and attracting foreign direct investment. I have no plans to amend the law in relation to this issue.

Employment Rights

Róisín Shortall

Question:

30 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he intends to publish the legislation to amend the Competition Acts to uphold the rights of certain freelance workers such as actors and musicians to collective bargaining, which was promised as part of the review of the Towards 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45537/10]

"Towards 2016” contains a Government commitment to introduce amending legislation to exclude voice-over actors, freelance journalists and session musicians when engaging in collective bargaining, from the provisions of Section 4 of the Competition Act 2002. The commitment takes into account, inter alia, that there would be negligible negative impacts on the economy or on the level of competition, and would have regard to the specific attributes and nature of the work involved, and be subject to consistency with EU competition rules.

I intend, subject to consistency with EU competition law, to give effect to this commitment in the legislation currently being prepared to merge the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority. This legislation will also amend, reform and update certain provisions of existing competition and consumer law. I hope to publish the Bill during the course of 2011.

EU Directives

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

31 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the current position and timeframe for the transposition of the services directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45550/10]

The European Union (Provision of Services) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 533 of 2010) were signed into law by me on 10th November 2010. The Regulations give effect in Ireland to the Services Directive with the exception of the European Communities (Court Orders for the Protection of Consumer Interests) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 555 of 2010), which,inter alia, transpose Article 42 of the Directive.

The second set of Regulations also transpose Directive 2009/22/EC on injunctions for the protections of consumers' interests (codified version) and revoke the European Communities (Protection of Consumers Collective Interests) Regulations (S.I. No. 449 of 2001), which transposed the original Injunctions Directive. The Injunction Directive ensures that consumers' rights, as set out in a number of other Directives, can be protected by providing a means by which Member States can bring an action to stop any breaches of consumer rights under the Directives in question. The decision to transpose Article 42 of the Services Directive in the European Communities (Court Orders for the Protection of Consumer Interests) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 555 of 2010) was taken for reasons of transparency. Article 42 adds the Services Directive to the list of Directives that are covered by the Injunctions Directive.

National Minimum Wage

Willie Penrose

Question:

32 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the total number of persons who earn less than the national minimum wage, by virtue of a number of exemptions provided by the National Minimum Wage Act 2000; if the cut in the hourly rate, provided for in the four year plan, will be applied to these employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45527/10]

I assume the Question relates to the number of employees who are paid sub-minimum rates under the National Minimum Wage Act, 2000 by virtue of them being under the age of 18 or undergoing recognised training. Estimates from the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey, as undertaken by the Central Statistics Office, indicate that there were approximately 52,000 employees paid at or below the national minimum wage of €8.65 per hour as of the second quarter of 2010. This represented 3.4% of all employees. The available data does not distinguish between those on the adult minimum wage and those on sub-minimum rates, i.e. under 18s and trainees. As the sub-minimum hourly rates are calculated as a percentage of the national minimum hourly rate of pay, any reduction in the rate will apply pro rata to the sub-minimum rates.

National Recovery Plan

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

33 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the plans he has put in place to assist and promote a programme for economic recovery sector by sector; the extent to which he has identified practices and procedures inhibiting any such progress; if he has had specific discussions with stakeholders to determine a strategy; if he has taken any steps to address any arising issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45603/10]

TheNational Recovery Plan 2011-2014, published on 24 November 2010, is a strategy for economic recovery with the aim of restoring stability to the public finances, improving Ireland’s cost competitiveness, stimulating enterprise growth and job creation. There are two pillars to the strategy for competitiveness, growth and employment a) remove potential structural impediments to competitiveness, growth and employment creation and b) pursue appropriate sectoral policies to encourage export growth and recovery of domestic demand.

The Plan sets out a range of specific actions and supports designed to:

Spur further improvements in competitiveness across all sectors of the economy including measures to cut input costs to business; in energy, waste, transport, broadband infrastructure, professional fees, property and labour.

Foster export growth and a recovery of domestic demand.

Provide investment of €2.2 billion in capital over the four years of the Plan for the Enterprise Agencies, which will enable them to create jobs across the economy, through:

supporting indigenous firms to increase exports,

winning new foreign investment, and

targeting and supporting Research, Development and innovation in companies, to boost productivity, exports, growth and jobs.

Key among the measures outlined in the Recovery Plan are proposals to remove barriers to employment, specifically a reduction in the minimum wage, reform of the social welfare system to incentivise work and eliminate unemployment traps as well as the re-invigoration of existing activation policies to ensure that the unemployed can make a swift return to work. These measures together with other actions already underway to restore fiscal stability, enhance access to credit, prioritise capital investment and to improve international competitiveness will impact positively across all sectors of the economy.

There are a wide range of other initiatives and actions already underway to assist economic recovery. Forfás recently published a report“Making it Happen — Growing Enterprise for Ireland” which sets out a series of recommendations that can help to improve the competitiveness of the economy and facilitate enterprise growth and job creation. The report includes 40 high level recommendations, supplemented by a number of sector-specific recommendations, aimed at addressing barriers to growth and accelerating potential in thirteen different sectors, such as ICT, Healthcare Life Sciences, International Financial Services, Agri Food, Green Technologies and Education Services. The sectoral analysis in this report was informed by the NCC report published in December 2009, Driving Export Growth: Statement on Sectoral Competitiveness, which identifies the key competitiveness issues facing Ireland’s main existing and emerging export sectors and the sector specific policy actions required to address them.

In September last, the Taoiseach launched the five-year integrated Government plan for trade, tourism and investment. This has set a number of ambitious targets to be achieved by 2015 including the generation of 300,000 jobs between direct and spin off employment. The overall objective of the strategy and its action plan is to marshal and coordinate the resources of the State in a way that best supports firms, of all sizes, in all parts of the country, which are trying to trade and grow their business overseas. The strategy presents a suite of actions for building on existing strengths and driving trade relations in existing as well as new and emerging economies. I myself, my Ministers of State and the relevant officials in my Department and its agencies engage extensively, as appropriate, with our stakeholders on all key strategic initiatives that are being developed.

Question No. 34 answered with Question No. 19.

Business Regulation

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

35 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his response to the report Mapping the Golden Circle, published by the research body TASC, which showed that Ireland’s corporate world was dominated by a small number of interconnected business persons which the report said posed a serious threat to corporate governance; the action he will take to ensure that corporate power does not remain concentrated in the hands of a small number of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45542/10]

I have noted the findings of this report. As regards listed companies (those on the main market of the Irish Stock Exchange), these have, for many years, been subject to the Combined Code on Corporate Governance, the provisions of which applied on a "comply or explain" basis. The Combined Code has recently been reviewed in the UK and revised in light of the financial crisis. The revised code, now known as the UK Corporate Governance Code, applies to Irish listed companies with effect from 30 September 2010. While the provisions of the new code will continue to apply on a comply or explain basis it will also be necessary for companies to state in their annual report how the main principles of the code are applied.

The new code re-emphasises the role and responsibilities of the board. It recommends that all directors of such companies should be subject to annual re-election by shareholders. This will give shareholders a regular opportunity to take account, in deciding whether they should be re-elected, of the number of directorships held by an individual director and whether or not they are in a position to give sufficient time to the company to discharge their responsibilities effectively. In addition, the new Code stresses the leadership role of the Chairman and provides that the Chairman report personally on the role and effectiveness of the board in the annual report. Furthermore, in addition to the board undertaking a formal and rigorous annual evaluation of its own performance and that of its committees and individual directors, the code includes a new provision for external evaluation of the board at least once every three years.

In addition, the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) has indicated that it proposes to implement recommendations contained in a report published jointly earlier this year by the ISE and the Irish Association of Investment Managers (IAIM), representing institutional investors here, by including new provisions in their Listing Rules. The recommendations are aimed at enhancing disclosures contained in annual reports of listed companies, focusing largely on board issues such as board balance and board refreshment. Consultation on the exact nature of these provisions is ongoing but the ISE's intention is that these provisions will apply to Irish listed companies from the financial year commencing on or after 1 January 2011. Listed companies will be required to provide a separate statement in their annual reports on a comply or explain basis in respect of these provisions.

In relation to financial institutions and insurance companies, which are the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Finance, the Central Bank recently issued the corporate governance code for credit institutions and insurance firms which sets out minimum statutory requirements on how banks and insurance companies should organize the governance of their institutions. The Code requirements include:

Limits on the number of directorships which directors may hold in financial and non- financial companies to ensure they can comply with the expected demands of board membership of a credit institution or insurance company;

Requirements on the role and number of independent non-executive directors;

Criteria for director independence and consideration of conflicts of interest;

Clear separation of the roles of Chairman and CEO;

A prohibition on an individual who has been a CEO, director or senior manager during the previous five years from becoming Chairman of that institution;

A requirement that board membership is reviewed at a minimum every three years;

A requirement that boards set the risk appetite for the institution and monitor adherence to this on an ongoing basis;

A requirement for an annual confirmation of compliance to be submitted to the Central Bank.

Finally the European Commission are considering the question of whether Corporate Governance measures are needed at EU level in respect of financial institutions and listed companies. The Commission's intentions in respect of these matters are unlikely to become clear until 2011.

Industrial Development

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

36 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the progress made regarding the commitment given in the renewed programme for Government to undertake an independent review of the effectiveness of State agency support for enterprise, including interaction between the Industrial Development Authority, Enterprise Ireland and county enterprise boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45543/10]

At the operational level, the enterprise development agencies, namely: IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the County Enterprise Boards and Science Foundation Ireland are responsible for enterprise promotion. They each have a core area of focus, which enables them to build a depth of relevant expertise and understanding of the enterprise cohort for which they are responsible, and to focus their own resources to best effect.

The focus of the enterprise agencies is broadly aligned with the strategic vision set out in the Forfás report, ‘Making it Happen: Growing Enterprise for Ireland', although that report identified some areas where interventions need to intensify in order to deliver more effective support for enterprise growth in the current climate including, Building on Sectoral Strengths and Realising Potential in New Activities, Supporting Competitiveness at Firm Level and Enhanced Agency Collaboration.

The enterprise development agencies have, as a matter of course, collaborated extensively on an on-going basis through a range of formal and informal mechanisms. However, in 2009, my Department established a High Level Group comprising representatives of each agency to identify areas for further collaboration. In addition to involving my own Department's agencies, the High Level Group also includes a representative from Udarás na Gaeltachta. The Group has made progress in a number of areas, for example in ensuring that access to supports is defined by business need rather than agency "ownership", in enhanced sharing of information, and in identifying initiatives to maximise potential synergies between foreign and indigenous firms. The Group will continue to identify areas where agency collaboration can be strengthened and where the effectiveness of support to enterprises can be improved.

The Forfás reportMaking it Happen — Growing Enterprise for Ireland includes a specific recommendation that programme evaluations should be carried out to ensure that the programmes managed by the enterprise development agencies under my Department’s remit are efficiently and effectively delivered. The report recommends that, as a priority, at least one programme evaluation should be carried out by mid 2011.

Forfás, working with officials from my Department, is at present developing a system wide evaluation framework incorporating enterprise policy, programme and project elements. The framework will be designed to measure ex-ante and ex-post the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of policy objectives/delivery, and will be developed by early 2011. The programme evaluations will ensure that the programmes managed by the enterprise development agencies operating under my Department's remit deliver on defined objectives, and that they are efficiently and effectively delivered. The first programme evaluations carried out under the new framework are expected to be completed in the first half of 2011.

Question No. 37 answered with Question No. 21.
Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 7.

National Recovery Plan

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

39 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way he intends to implement the commitment contained in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 to promote competition in the professions; when the independent figure to oversee this process will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45532/10]

The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 contains an action point to promote competition in the professions and that this will be overseen by an independent figure who reports to Government regularly. Arrangements for implementing this action point are being considered and I expect the matter to be brought to Government shortly.

Financial Services Regulation

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

40 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his response to the consultation paper on corporate governance published by the Financial Regulator. [45552/10]

The consultation paper referred to in the Deputy's question relates specifically to financial institutions and insurance undertakings, responsibility for which rests with my colleague the Minister for Finance. Having considered over 130 responses to the consultation paper, the Central Bank recently issued the corporate governance code for credit institutions and insurance firms which sets out minimum statutory requirements on how banks and insurance companies should organize the governance of their institutions. I understand the requirements are more demanding than those in place in other jurisdictions.

I also understand the Code adopts a two tier approach by imposing minimum standards upon the boards of directors of banks and insurers in general with additional requirements defined for firms that the Central Bank designates as major institutions. Differentiated standards apply to Irish subsidiaries of foreign regulated firms in a number of areas. The Code provides for transitional arrangements. It will apply to existing directors and boards with effect from 1 January 2011. Those institutions, which may need time to implement changes to systems and structures to become compliant will be given until 30 June 2011 to do so. Where changes to the Board are necessary, this period will be extended to 31 December 2011 to identify and assess suitable candidates with appropriate experience and diversities.

Failure to comply with the requirements may be subject to supervisory action and disciplinary procedures by the Central Bank, including sanctions under powers available to the Bank. I welcome the application of this Code and the fact that it does not adopt a one size fits all approach to take account of institutions with a lesser economic significance and lower risk activities.

Credit Availability

Emmet Stagg

Question:

41 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when the proposed Government-backed loan guarantee scheme for viable small businesses will be established; the criteria that will be used for qualification for the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45535/10]

As I outlined in my reply to Priority Question No. 69 on Wednesday 13 October 2010, my officials are working with their colleagues in the Department of Finance, the Credit Review Office, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás to address access to credit issues for viable SMEs, including the option of a loan guarantee scheme to assist the working capital requirements of SMEs. This ongoing work is aimed at building on the already substantial progress that has been made in identifying the critical elements for further initiatives. It is important that any new initiatives complement, rather than substitute, the main banks' lending commitments and activities under the recapitalisation package and that they would represent value for money from the taxpayer's perspective.

The Deputy's question refers specifically to criteria to be used in any new scheme. While the specific issues are still under discussion, it is possible that any new initiative would only apply to commercially viable businesses that, despite having demonstrated the ability to repay, were unable to secure lending facilities due to known market failures. An example of such a failure would be lack of information concerning certain business sectors, certain types of business model and certain foreign markets. Loan guarantees, are just one of a range of possible measures being considered to address SME credit availability. Proposals for any new measures will be considered by Government in the first instance.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 19.

Proposed Legislation

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

43 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he will publish the legislation promised (details supplied) to clamp down on crony capitalism, to restrict cross-directorships and to prevent one person fulfilling the dual role of chair and chief executive of any company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45551/10]

As regards credit institutions and insurance companies, which come within the aegis of my colleague the Minister for Finance, the Deputy may be aware that the Central Bank recently issued the corporate governance code for credit institutions and insurance firms which sets out minimum statutory requirements on how banks and insurance companies should organize the governance of their institutions. The new Code will apply to existing directors and boards with effect from 1 January 2011 but there is provision for transitional arrangements for those institutions needing more time to implement changes to systems and structures to become compliant.

The Code adopts a two tier approach by imposing minimum core standards upon the boards of directors of banks and insurers in general with additional requirements defined for firms that the Central Bank designates as major institutions. Included among the requirements of the Code are limits on the number of directorships, which directors may hold in financial and non-financial companies to ensure they can comply with the expected demands of board membership of a credit institution or insurance company. The Code also provides for a clear separation of the roles of Chairman and CEO.

There is also a requirement for an annual confirmation of compliance to be submitted to the Central Bank. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Code may be subject to supervisory action and disciplinary procedures by the Central Bank, including sanctions under powers available to the Bank. In addition, cross directorships and separation of the roles of Chair and Chief Executive are among issues also being considered by the European Commission as part of a possible corporate governance initiative at EU level on financial institutions generally.

In relation to Irish listed companies (those trading on the main market of the Irish Stock Exchange), the corporate governance code that applies on a "comply or explain" basis has recently been revised following the financial crisis. Among the changes introduced is a provision recommending that all directors of listed companies should be subject to annual election by shareholders. The revised Code continues to provide that the same individual should not exercise the roles of Chairman and CEO. In the area of company law, the Companies Consolidation and Reform Bill currently being drafted will implement the recommendations of the Company Law Review Group in that the fiduciary duties owed by directors to the company will be set out in the new companies code.

Currently, company law does not prohibit cross directorships. The general position is that a person may not be a director of more than 25 companies subject to certain specific exceptions. Neither do the Companies Acts prevent a person fulfilling the dual role of chair and chief executive of a company. This would in my opinion be unworkable for smaller companies. The Government is committed to ensuring that our corporate governance regime for the corporate sector generally, accords with best international practice.

National Recovery Plan

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

44 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the analysis undertaken by him on the effects of the measures included in the four year plan on businesses in the Border counties; the actions he will take to increase the competitiveness and viability of enterprises in the Border counties, given that measures included in the four year plan, including increasing VAT, will encourage persons to move across the Border to avail of goods and services and will thus put pressure on businesses in the Border counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45497/10]

The National Recovery Plan, which was published by the Government on 24th November, provides a blueprint for Ireland's return to sustainable economic growth. It sets out a range of specific actions and supports designed to improve competitiveness across all sectors of the economy, and in all regions. These include measures to cut costs to business, the removal of barriers to employment creation, and a range of sector-specific actions to increase exports and domestic demand. In addition to the measures set out in the National Recovery Plan, my Department's agencies, including Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards, will continue to work with companies in the border region to improve their competitiveness, productivity and viability.

Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 28.

Construction Contracts

Willie Penrose

Question:

46 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the severe difficulties faced by sub-contractors in the construction sector when main contractors go into receivership, both in regard to unpaid contracts and difficulties in retrieving equipment and tools from construction sites; his plans to provide protection for sub-contractors in this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45526/10]

My colleague, Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., Minister for Finance is, on behalf of the Government, supporting Senator Feargal Quinn's Construction Contracts Bill 2010 which is currently before the Seanad. The main objective of the Bill is to provide a payment and adjudication mechanism to resolve payment disputes between contractors and sub-contractors for work done under construction contracts.

Industrial Development

Martin Ferris

Question:

47 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he will be conducting examinations into allowing entrepreneurs or business start-ups access to vacant or under-utilised public property as incubation centres; the person who will be responsible for rolling out this programme; the conditions that will be attached to this for persons or businesses seeking premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45501/10]

The enterprise agencies under the aegis of my Department currently have a range of initiatives for the provision of space for start up companies. These include incubation centres, community enterprise centres and business innovation centres. There are currently 21 campus incubation centres facilities that are operational. At present, there are over 250 companies in incubation units in these centres, employing 1,065 people and providing shorter-term hot-desk space for emerging entrepreneurs.

The Community Enterprise Centre Scheme has provided significant funding to facilitate the development of community enterprise centres, which are aimed at providing a physical and human support network for emerging entrepreneurs and micro-industry. Since the launch of the first scheme in 1989, €61.4 million has been approved for the development of Community Enterprise Centres and the schemes have aided the capital investment and management development of 134 centres, of which 105 have been completed. The balance of these centres are either under construction or are recent approvals and there is approximately €6 million in capital grants yet to be drawn down in 2010 by CEC approved applications.

In addition, Business Innovation Centres located in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Waterford develop and manage incubation space to assist fledgling businesses start, establish and then to move on, so that vacated space can be used for other new start-up businesses. The enterprise agencies keep the need for space of this type under review. Implementation of the actions in the National Recovery Plan are being considered at present.

Employment Rights

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

48 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the steps he will take to prevent the exploitation of domestic workers, particularly migrant workers in such positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45557/10]

Ireland's body of employment rights legislation protects all workers employed on an employer-employee basis in Ireland. The Protection of Employee's (Part-Time) Work Act, 2001 provides that all employee protection legislation applies to a person, irrespective of his or her nationality or place of residence, who has entered into a contract of employment that provides for his or her being employed in the State or who works in the State under a contract of employment.

NERA collects information from a number of sources in order to identify the location of domestic workers. NERA also investigates complaints received. In 2011, NERA will undertake a programme to assess the level of compliance in the domestic worker sector and to provide information to both employers and employees. NERA provides information through a variety of channels including

Information booklets and leaflets in a number of languages

NERA's website — www.employmentrights.ie — had over 286,000 visits in last 12 months with 1.3m pages accessed.

a 24-hour telephone service, with options to hear recorded information at a convenient time.

through NERA inspections

NERA participates in events with trade unions ,employer and educational bodies and many others including those in the public sector.

NERA will continue to hold its own information clinics in 2011

a member of NERA management acts as liaison officer to keep contact open with the Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland.

9 NERA inspectors have specific language skills in Polish, Slovakian, Lithuanian and Russian.

NERA also draws on interpretative resources as required.

There is a Code of Practice for Protecting Persons Employed in Other People's Homes as set out in Section 42 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990. The code seeks to

Set out certain employment rights and protections for persons employed in other people's homes; and

Encourage good practice and compliance with the law concerning the employment of persons in other people's homes; and

Increase awareness of the application of relevant legislation and codes of practice with regard to the sector to which this code applies.

NERA Inspectors may only enter a private home with the consent of the occupier or by warrant of the District Court. It can, but has never found it necessary to, apply to the District Court for a warrant (not a search warrant) to enter a private home to examine records. Such warrants may only be issued if a judge of the District Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that information required by an Inspector is held on any premises or any part of premises.

County Enterprise Boards

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

49 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the progress made regarding the commitment given in the renewed programme for Government to establish community and development agencies as a one-stop-shop for advice on grant supports, business opportunities, training and development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45545/10]

The network of County and City Enterprise Boards, which come under the auspices of my Department, are the primary initial contact point for business start-ups in Ireland. The CEBs can assist micro-enterprises i.e. businesses with 10 employees or fewer and are to the forefront in supporting viable business start-ups and in assisting the development of growth-orientated micro-enterprises which can generate job creation at a local level and which, over time, can develop into strong export entities and transfer to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio.

The CEBs can provide both direct financial assistance in the form of Priming Grants, Business Expansion Grants and Feasibility Grants and non-financial assistance in the form of Programmes such as Start Your Own Business Programmes, Business Training and Management Programmes, Mentoring Programmes etc. In providing support to the micro-enterprise sector the CEBs must give priority to manufacturing and internationally traded services. The CEBs work closely with other Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and with other Bodies active in their local area such as LEADER, Partnership Groups etc and where a CEB is not in a position to support a client they will direct them to another appropriate organisation.

I am keen to ensure that the synergies between the CEBs and Enterprise Ireland are maximised, and that engagement with the development agencies is as seamless as possible for all small businesses including the important micro sector. I will shortly be bringing a Memorandum to the Government in this regard.

Consumer Protection

Liz McManus

Question:

50 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding the draft consumer rights directive, if he is satisfied that the existing rights of consumers here, such as the right to reject, will be retained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45548/10]

The proposal for a Consumer Rights Directive was published in October 2008 and has been drafted on a full harmonisation basis which, if retained, would preclude member states from going beyond its protections in national legislation. Though some provisions of the proposed Directive would strengthen consumer rights in Ireland, others would potentially have a less positive effect. Concerns about the proposal's impact on Irish consumer rights centre mainly on its provisions on consumer remedies for faulty goods and in particular, as the Deputy's question suggests, on their implications for what is known as the right to reject. By this is meant the right to return faulty goods, obtain a refund of the price, and, in so doing, to terminate the contract. A fully harmonised provision along the lines proposed in the draft Directive would, if adopted, mean that the right to reject would be a remedy of second rather than first resort for faulty goods.

I would like to assure the Deputy that my officials have expressed our reservations about the relevant aspects of the proposed Directive in clear and forthright terms. Those concerns were restated at political level at the Competitiveness Council in December 2009 and May 2010. I also raised our concerns directly with Vice-President Reding who now has responsibility for the proposal at a meeting I had with her on the occasion of the May Competitiveness Council. Intensive discussions have taken place under the Belgian Presidency in advance of the Competitiveness Council to be held on 10 December. While a final resolution of all of the outstanding issues has yet to be achieved, the indications are that a general approach to their resolution will be agreed in the near future.

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament is also currently concluding its consideration of the proposed Directive. Almost sixteen hundred amendments to the proposed Directive tabled by members of the Committee are now being considered. The Committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal in early January 2011 and a plenary vote of the Parliament is expected in March 2011.

Employment Support Services

Arthur Morgan

Question:

51 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the action he is taking to stop emigration; the pre-emptive projects planned to create employment here to stop 100,000 persons leaving by 2014, as envisaged by the Government in its budgetary outlook 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45494/10]

The role of my Department is to ensure that we have the right policies in place that will support and grow our enterprise base in order to facilitate both job creation and job retention. Workers are mobile, and migration, both inward and outward, has always been a feature of Ireland's labour force, as it has been the world over. Clearly, there is a difference between voluntary migration where people choose to work abroad for various reasons, and the current situation where many people feel that they have to look elsewhere for work until such time as the Irish economy picks up and their skills are in demand here again. We experienced this during the 1980s and 1990s, when skilled workers left Ireland for jobs, to return some years later, with greater experience and skills, as our economy grew.

The National Recovery Plan, which was published by the Government on 24th November, provides a blueprint for Ireland's return to sustainable economic growth. It identifies the areas of activity, which will provide increased employment opportunities as Ireland's economic recovery takes place. The Plan sets out a range of specific actions and supports designed to improve competitiveness across all sectors of the economy, including the SME sector. These include measures to cut costs to business, the removal of barriers to employment creation, and a range of sector-specific actions to increase exports and domestic demand.

The State Development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, and the County and City Enterprise Boards are continuing to drive and promote enterprise development, and consequently employment creation in our economy. IDA Ireland continues to market and promote Ireland for inward investment. Indeed, earlier this week, on 30 November, global management consultancy Accenture, an IDA client company that already employs 1,300 people in Ireland, announced the creation of an additional 100 jobs at a new centre in Dublin.

Enterprise Ireland is actively focused on the creation of new jobs through supporting entrepreneurs setting up new high potential start-up companies, and the retention and creation of new jobs in existing companies. The agency also continues to work with community groups around the country to develop community enterprise centres designed to foster micro enterprises. The County and City Enterprise Boards support the micro enterprise sector — businesses with 10 employees or less — in the start-up and expansion phases and promotes entrepreneurship at local level.

In September, the Taoiseach launched the five-year integrated Government plan for trade, tourism and investment aimed at generating 300,000 jobs by the end of 2015. The new plan,“Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy”, is the first integrated strategy to promote overseas trade, tourism and investment. With this new strategy, the Government aims to position Ireland for strong export-led growth to 2015, resulting in high levels of job creation. The plan aims to create over 150,000 direct new jobs (IDA Ireland 75,000, Enterprise Ireland 60,000, tourism 15,000) in manufacturing, tourism and internationally trading services, with another 150,000 spin-off jobs.

In addition to delivering programmes through the Enterprise Development agencies, my Department also works across Government to ensure that Ireland regains competitiveness, including cost competitiveness, thus improving the business environment and enabling companies to successfully compete internationally and grow jobs.

Single Market

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

52 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the extent if any to which he has had discussions with the EU Commissioner, Michel Barnier, with a view to availing of the benefits of the relaunch of the Single Market; the degree to which technology and innovation is likely to play a role in such plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45604/10]

I met Commissioner Barnier in Dublin on 5 November last. The Commissioner was in Dublin to fulfil a number of engagements, including a meeting with my Department to discuss a number of initiatives designed to make the Single Market work more effectively. These include the Services Directive, the Single Market Act (SMA) and the operation of the SOLVIT Network.

The transposition of the Services Directive was completed on 23rd November last. The details are set out in the answer to Question 45604/10. The transposition of the Directive makes it easier for businesses and consumers to buy services in the Single Market.Forfás projects that the real value of Irish services exports could rise by between €13 billion and €16 billion annually as a result of improved services trade under the Directive, as transposed. Jobs in services could rise by 5,300 and foreign direct investment in services could increase by up to 20pc.

The SMA, which was published on 27th October last, is the Commission's response to the May 2010 Monti Report, which was prepared by (former) Commissioner Mario Monti at the request of the President of the European Commission, Mr Barosso, to review progress to date in the creation of the Single Market and to identify what needed to be done to complete it. It includes a number of recommendations on the funding of innovation and long-term investment.

The SMA has been published for public consultation after which (in early 2011) the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament will be asked to formally agree to it. The Commission is anxious that a public debate on the SMA takes place at national level as well as at EU level. In that regard, my Department will be giving a presentation on the SMA to the JointOireachtas Committee on European Affairs on 14th December next. The views of stakeholders, including the social partners, on the Act have also been sought.

SOLVIT is an informal problem-solving network launched by the European Commission in 2002. It was created to solve cross-border problems that EU citizens or businesses are experiencing with the public administrations of other EU Member States. Those problems must be associated with a denial of their Single Market rights due to single market law not being applied correctly. SOLVIT aims to solve problems raised by citizens or businesses within 10 weeks.

In tandem with the renewal of the Single Market through the SMA, the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, which was published in March 2010, identifies the Single Market as one of three main instruments to deliver its vision of a knowledge-based, green and inclusive EU economy (together with budgetary means and external economic policy). The strategy focuses on economic growth, sustainable development and emissions reduction and on the need to tackle societal challenges such as healthy ageing, energy security, climate change and environmental protection.

Innovation has moved up the political agenda and the European Commission is seizing on this opportunity to try and turn long-mulled ideas into reality. In this context the Innovation Union flagship initiative, launched in October 2010, within the EU 2020 Strategy, is relevant. Within the Innovation Union flagship, the idea of European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) is being developed. EIPs are intended to take existing national and EU funded research efforts and channel them in a concerted way into large partnerships. Those (partly EU funded) national research efforts would be resourced through the usual sources, including the Framework Programmes. Ireland performs well in attracting research and innovation funding from the current FP7 and is active in influencing the direction FP8 will take, when it is launched in 2014.

Our national innovation initiatives are mirroring those at the EU level. For example, since the publication of the Innovation Task Force's Report in March 2010, the Innovation Task Force Implementation Group has been progressing the Task Force's recommendations. It is anticipated that arising out of the recommendations a pilot project will be established in line with the EIP, probably in the healthy ageing area.

Schools Refurbishment

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

53 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the funding application towards a resource room in respect of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 14 and if the application for this work can be facilitated at an early date. [45649/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers recently applied to my Department for funding to provide a resource room. The application is currently being assessed. My officials will convey a decision on the application to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

54 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when an extension will be sanctioned and work commence on a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45653/10]

The project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. Authorisation was given earlier this year for tender documents to be prepared. The design team have recently submitted a stage 2(b) report. However, this submission was incomplete and an addendum was requested. My Department will review this addendum on receipt. Following the review, and assuming no issues arise, my Department will then revert to the school with further instructions regarding progression of the project to tender and construction.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

55 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when works will be sanctioned and commence on a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which has applied under the summer works scheme 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45654/10]

As part of the Summer Works Scheme 2010, school management authorities were invited to apply for water conservation measures to reduce water usage by installing push type spray taps, low flushing toilets and urinal controls. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school in question has been allocated a grant and the management authority of the school, County Wexford Vocational Education Committee have been advised how to draw down the grant.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

56 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when works will be sanctioned and commence on a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which has made an application for redevelopment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45655/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension project. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band rating of 1.2. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

57 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when emergency works will be sanctioned and commence on a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which has applied under the emergency works scheme 2010, the summer works scheme and made application for an extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45656/10]

The school referred to by the Deputy has been allocated funding under my Department's Permanent Accommodation Scheme 2007 for the provision of additional accommodation. The school has also been allocated funding under the 2010 Summer Works Scheme 2010 for the replacement of windows and they also have applied for funding under my Department's Emergency Works scheme.

Funding for Emergency Works are made available to those schools most in need of resources as a result of unforeseen emergencies of a capital nature that may arise during the school year. The application for Emergency funding by the school in question is currently being assessed by my Department and a decision will issue to the school management authority as soon as possible. As funding allocated to the school is on a devolved basis it is a matter for the school management authority to ensure that works commence on site as quickly as possible.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

58 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when emergency works will be sanctioned and commence on a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which has applied under the emergency works scheme 2010 and the summer works scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45657/10]

The school in question was approved emergency funding in January 2010 for the replacement of the boiler in the school gym and I understand that these works have been completed. The school has also been allocated funding for window replacement and water conversion work under my Department's 2010 Summer Works Scheme and work on window replacement has commenced.

Special Educational Needs

Tom Hayes

Question:

59 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal for special needs assistant hours in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [45668/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The NCSE has introduced an appeals process whereby schools and parents, where appropriate, may seek to appeal the decision of a SENO in relation to the allocation of resources. Information regarding the appeals process is available on the NCSE's website at www.ncse.ie. The NCSE has advised my Department that, to date, it has not received an appeal in respect of the pupil referred to by the Deputy. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Construction Contracts

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

60 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding contractors (details supplied) who had school contracts and whereby the company subsequently went into examinership; if the sub-contractors will be paid for the work carried out on behalf of the main contractor while the main contractor is now in examinership. [45670/10]

My Department allocated a devolved grant to the trustees of the school in question for the delivery of a new temporary school pending the appointment of a Board of Management. As the Deputy is aware an Examiner was appointed by the High Court in September 2010 to the main contractor awarded the contract for the delivery of the temporary school building and the appropriate course of action is for sub-contractors to raise any claims they may have with the Examiner appointed. In the circumstances, I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that my Department is not in a position to interfere in relation to the matters you have raised.

Home-School Liaison Scheme

Michael Ring

Question:

61 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in regard to the home-school community liaison scheme, which to date included both urban and rural schools, if rural schools will be excluded from this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45723/10]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

64 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary schools that will be affected by the reduction in the number of rural co-ordinators serving primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45762/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 64 together.

The Government has published the National Recovery Plan 2011 to 2014. The plan includes measures to secure some €24m in savings in the 2011/2012 school year. These measures will lead to a reduction of up to approximately 1,200 posts in 2011 (700 primary, 500 post-primary) which, however, will be partly offset by the addition of some 875 new posts due to demographics. The measures to reduce teacher posts includes the removal of the Rural Coordinator service from 331 rural DEIS primary schools. This measure will not affect the provision of HSCL services which remain in 200 post primary and 345 urban primary participating in DEIS.

Community Employment Schemes

Richard Bruton

Question:

62 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons on the integration option and on the part-time job elements of the community employment programme; the distribution of persons who have participated in these programmes by the period for which they were on the programme that is one year, two years and so on and the distribution by social welfare scheme that they were on prior to participation. [45750/10]

The details requested by the Deputy, as provided by FÁS, are as follows. Part-time Integration Option (PTI).

This is a one year version of CE for people aged 25 years and over who are receiving social welfare payments for 12 months or more. The number of people currently availing of this option is 14,650. Part-time Job Option (PTJ)

This is a three year version of CE, (based on annually renewable contracts) for people aged 35 years and over and who are receiving social welfare payments for 3 years or more. The number of people currently availing of this option is 5,696.

The following table outlines the number of years completed by participants of PTI and PTJ. This table includes the Off-shore islanders under PTI and PTJ options. These account for the majority of those in excess of 7 years as they are exempt from the participation caps. The table excludes Supervisors, Drugs Rehabilitation Clients and Exceptions.

Completed Years

PTI

PTJ

Grand Total

0

6,533

743

7,276

1

4,032

1,243

5,275

2

2,185

1,463

3,648

3

964

839

1,803

4

432

575

1,007

5

294

527

821

6

163

216

379

7+

47

90

137

Grand Total

14,650

5,696

20,346

The following table details the social welfare schemes that were availed of by participants of PTI and PTJ prior to their participation on CE.

Benefit Type

PTI

PTJ

Blind Pension

9

6

Carer’s Allowance

5

5

Disability Allowance

1,046

790

Illness Benefit

536

244

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

65

109

Employment Action Plan

28

Ex Offender

6

Invalidity Pension

760

785

Islander

12

One Parent Family Payment

3,466

962

Supervisor

Disability Referral

33

13

Qualified Adult (Historic category)

39

14

Refugee

1

3

Exception

Drugs Referral

Traveller Live Register

44

9

Traveller Lone Parent

12

4

Jobseekers Allowance

4,927

1,343

Jobseekers Allowance (Swap)

44

14

Jobseekers Benefit

3,333

995

Jobseekers Benefit (Swap)

14

2

Widow/ers Pension

270

398

Grand Total

14,650

5,696

Higher Education Grants

John McGuinness

Question:

63 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if an application for a higher education grant submitted to Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [45758/10]

The process of assessing and paying third level or further education grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant grant awarding authority i.e. the applicant's local authority or VEC. Where a grant application is refused, the reason for the refusal is given by the grant awarding authority and an applicant may appeal the decision to the relevant local authority or VEC. Where the grant awarding authority decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department by submitting an appeal form outlining clearly the grounds for the appeal.

Question No.64 answered with Question No. 61.

Schools Building Projects

Emmet Stagg

Question:

65 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a successful contractor has been selected for the building of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when construction will commence and the timeframe envisaged for same. [45764/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of the tender process. Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that a contractor will be appointed in early December and will commence construction shortly thereafter. The construction period is circa 12 months.

Education Policy

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

66 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to undertake a benchmarking review of international best practice in education as outlined in the Global Irish Forum report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45791/10]

Schools are already subject to evaluation by way of the national scheme of Whole School Evaluation. Procedures for dealing with underperforming teachers in schools were implemented with effect from the beginning of the 2009/2010 school year.

With regard to a benchmarking review, Ireland participates in the OECD PISA studies which benchmark the performance of 15 year olds internationally in literacy, maths and science. Ireland will also participate in the next Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and Trends in International Maths and Science assessments of 10 year olds in 2011. Such an approach at senior cycle is not feasible due to the lack of availability of international standardized test instruments, as systems differ widely at this level. Ireland's Leaving Certificate was benchmarked against the UK A levels in 2003 by an Expert Group leading to agreement to treat a Leaving Certificate subject as equal to two thirds of an A level for entry to higher education in the UK. Both the NCCA and the State Examinations Commission are members of international education networks and keep abreast of international developments.

Tax Code

Joe McHugh

Question:

67 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the reason a car owner’s parents (details supplied) are disallowed from driving his car, which is legitimately registered by a citizen who lives in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45707/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 134(1)(a) of the Finance Act 1992 provides that a vehicle may be registered without the payment of vehicle registration tax (VRT), if the vehicle is "the personal property of a private individual and is being brought permanently into the State by the individual when he is transferring his normal residence from a place outside the State to a place in the State". However, specific conditions are attached to the use of such a vehicle for a defined period after it is brought into the State. These conditions are detailed in Statutory Instrument No. 59 of 1993 (Vehicle Registration Tax (Permanent Reliefs) Regulations, 1993). Regulation 4(6) of these Regulations requires that the vehicle be used solely by the registered owner for a period of 12 months from the date of registration in the State. It provides that:“A vehicle in respect of which the relief aforesaid has been granted shall not be sold or otherwise disposed of, hired out, lent or given as security in the State during the period of 12 months following its registration by the Commissioners”.

The vehicle that is the subject of this question was granted a permanent exemption from the payment of VRT in November 2010 under Section 134(1)(a) of the Finance Act 1992. The exemption was granted to the registered owner of the vehicle and, accordingly, under the conditions detailed in Regulation 4(6) of Statutory Instrument No. 59 of 1993, the registered owner and he alone is permitted to drive the vehicle in the State until November 2011. The Revenue Commissioners have confirmed that the individual in question was advised in writing of the requirement regarding vehicle use, in a letter of exemption dated 8 November 2010, issued by their Border Midlands West Region, Donegal District, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Finally, the Deputy may wish to note that where all qualifying conditions set out in S.I. No. 59 of 1993 are not complied with subsequent to the granting of an exemption, a payment of VRT equal to the amount remitted or repaid by the Commissioners at the date of registration will become due and is payable by the person in whose name the vehicle is registered.

Public Sector Staff

John Cregan

Question:

68 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance if he will define the meaning of new entrant to the public sector as mentioned in the context of the forthcoming budget and if he can outline if a person (details supplied) in County Limerick would be classed as a new entrant. [45675/10]

As is customary, I do not propose to comment in advance of the Budget on any matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Flood Relief

Terence Flanagan

Question:

69 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a flood defence wall (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45682/10]

It would be open to Fingal County Council to apply for funding to build a flood defence wall at the location referred to by the Deputy under the Office of Public Works Minor Flood Works scheme. If the Council submits an application that meets the eligibility criteria of the scheme, it will be considered by the OPW having regard to the overall availability of funding for flood risk management.

Public Sector Pay

Finian McGrath

Question:

70 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if information (details supplied) is accurate. [45694/10]

Salaries payable to Members of the Oireachtas are established under legislation, the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) Act 1938. Members of the Oireachtas as office holders, are not covered by the terms of the Croke Park Agreement. Following a recommendation of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector (Report Number 38 in 2000) salaries paid to Members are linked to that of the Principal Officer grade in the Civil Service. The Principal Officer grade in the Civil Service is covered by the terms of the Croke Park Agreement.

Company Closures

Joe McHugh

Question:

71 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a comprehensive statement on assets liquidation; the payment process to creditors; the order in which various creditor organisations are paid, that is, banks, Revenue, contractors and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45708/10]

Policy in relation to Company Law matters are the responsibility of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Innovation in the first instance.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

72 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance the companies excluded from the National Pensions Reserve Fund investment portfolio under Part IV of the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act 2008, as a result of those companies’ involvement in the cluster munitions or anti-personnel mines industries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45727/10]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was established on 2 April 2001 under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 with the objective of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until at least 2055. The Act provided for the establishment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission. The Commission is solely responsible for the control, management and investment of the assets of the Fund (other than assets which the Minister for Finance has directed the Commission to invest in a listed credit institution under the provisions of the Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009) and for determining the investment strategy for the Fund in accordance with Fund investment policy.

The Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act 2008 obliges the NPRF to avoid investment in manufacturers of cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines. The Commission has divested from seven companies and excluded four companies in which it did not have existing investments, from investment. These companies are either involved in the manufacture of cluster munitions or anti-personnel mines or have not distanced themselves sufficiently from the manufacture of such weapons.

The companies from which the Commission has divested are Alliant Techsystems Inc (US), General Dynamics Corp (US), L-3 Communications Holdings Inc (US), Lockheed Martin Corp (US), Northrop Grumman Corp (US), Raytheon Co. (US) and Textron Inc (US). The companies which the Commission have excluded from investment are Aerostar SA (Romania), Hanwha Corp (South Korea), Poongsang Corp (South Korea) and Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd.

Financial Services Regulation

Richard Bruton

Question:

73 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the present provision agreed with financial institutions to protect persons having difficulty with loan repayments; where a borrower can get assistance if they feel an institution is not applying the code of practice and if further changes are to be agreed for implementation within the code. [45748/10]

The Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA), a statutory Code issued by the Central Bank under Section 117 of the Central Bank Act 1989, sets out requirements for lenders in their dealings with borrowers who are having difficulties meeting their mortgage repayments. Lenders are required to comply with the CCMA as a matter of law and the Central Bank has the power to administer sanctions for a contravention of the CCMA. The lender must keep and maintain adequate records of all steps taken and must produce all such records to the Central Bank upon request. The Deputy will be aware of the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Expert Group which I established in February under the Renewed Programme for Government. The Group submitted an Interim Report in July and a Final Report in November. Many of the recommendations require amendments to the CCMA specifying the steps involved in a Mortgage Arrears and Resolution Process (MARP) and the related obligations of both lenders and borrowers. One of these steps obliges the mortgage lender to provide for a mechanism by which the borrower can submit an appeal against decisions made under the MARP. The amended CCMA is expected to be published by the Central Bank shortly. For borrowers with difficulties meeting payments to regulated financial institutions in respect of all forms of personal debt (other than residential mortgages as referred to above), the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code (CPC) provides that a regulated financial institution must have in place procedures for handling arrears. The Central Bank is currently carrying out a review of the CPC and, to this end, issued a public consultation paper in October with a draft revised CPC. It is proposed to increase the requirements for regulated financial institutions in relation to their handling of arrears cases. This document is available at www.financialregulator.ie.

At present a borrower, who feels that the provisions of either of the above codes are not being complied with by a regulated financial institution may submit a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman. The Financial Services Ombudsman is an independent office established to deal with unresolved consumer complaints about their dealings with financial institutions.

The Deputy will also be aware of the IBF-MABS Operational Protocol on Debt Management, which became fully operational on 28 September 2009 and which has been subscribed to by fourteen Irish Bankers Federation (IBF) members. This protocol sets out a process by which MABS advisors and IBF members that have subscribed to the protocol, agree to approach debt problems experienced by personal customers/clients, on the basis of the following principles:

(a) Examine the debt/arrears situation on its individual merits, as each situation is different and is likely to require different solutions.

(b) Prioritise secured debts over unsecured debt and thereafter prioritise on the basis of consequences for non-payment. Secondary creditors will be treated on an equitable (pro rata) distribution basis.

(c) Consider the customer/client's overall indebtedness in establishing ability to repay; first giving priority to protection of repayment of mortgage or rent for appropriate accommodation and payment for essential utilities such as heat and light and other basic necessities.

(d) Explore, as appropriate, alternative repayment measures, ensuring that the customer/client receives a clear explanation of any alternative repayment arrangements being considered, together with details of any additional interest or administration charges that may arise in the process.

(e) Inform the customer/client as to the full details of the repayment arrangement as well as, in so far as possible, the potential consequences of non-compliance to this and the continued impact on his/her credit rating.

(f) Provide the customer/client with relevant contact details.

(g) Monitor the mutually-acceptable, affordable and sustainable repayment plan that is put in place.

Tax Reliefs

Richard Bruton

Question:

74 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the number of employers who claimed double deduction for taking on persons who are long-term unemployed in the most recent year for which data is available; the number of employees covered; the cost in aggregate of the relief and the restrictions that apply to qualifying employment and qualifying individuals and if he will consider relaxing these conditions. [45752/10]

The Revenue Job Assist Scheme provides an incentive to encourage both the long-term unemployed to take up employment and employers to employ the long-term unemployed. Additional tax relief is available which is tapered over three years for the unemployed person returning to work. A tapering child allowance in respect of dependent children may also be due. A double wage deduction is available for employers who employ the long term unemployed. The numbers of employers and employees, together with the estimated costs to the Exchequer in relation to employees who participated in the Revenue Job Assist Scheme, are as follows (to the extent that they are available):

Employers

Employees

Year

Numbers

Numbers

Costs to Exchequer

€m*

2008

321

330

0.2

2009

306

Not yet available.

*Figures of Exchequer cost are rounded as appropriate.

The scheme is available to persons who have been continuously unemployed for the immediate period of 52 weeks prior to taking up a qualifying job and in receipt of certain payments made by the Department of Social Protection. Time spent on a number of State-aided training courses or schemes, including FÁS courses or Community Employment Schemes, can be taken into account as periods of unemployment. The scheme has also been extended to allow time spent in prison to be treated in the same way as time spent unemployed.

The scheme is available to employers for jobs which are for a minimum of 30 hours per week, and capable of lasting at least 12 months. It does not apply to jobs that are primarily commission based (i.e. over 75% of earnings derived from commission) or already grant aided by other agencies (statutory or otherwise).

The employer will not qualify if the employment results from the previous jobholder being unfairly dismissed; is taken up by the proprietary director of the company or the spouse of such a director; or is in an employment where the employer requires no workforce. In addition, the employer will not qualify for Revenue Job Assist for an employment if any employees were made redundant in the 26 weeks prior to the date of commencement of the new employment. However, the genuine replacement of an existing employee will qualify (e.g. replacing an employee who retires or voluntarily leaves the employment).

These conditions were put in place in order to counter any possible abuse of the scheme and it is difficult to see how they could be relaxed without opening the scheme to the potential for abuse.

It is important to point out that provided their tax affairs are in order, employers who take on employees under the Revenue Job Assist scheme may also qualify for the existing PRSI Exemption Scheme for the first 2 years of employment.

Tax Code

Richard Bruton

Question:

75 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if the refund of DIRT tax for persons aged 65 years and over, who are not otherwise eligible to pay income tax, will continue to apply as the age tax exemption is phased out over the next four years and if so, the way it will be phased in. [45753/10]

An individual aged 65 or over is eligible for a refund of DIRT, or to have interest paid free from DIRT, if his or her taxable income, including deposit interest, does not exceed the relevant income tax exemption limits, currently €20,000 for single individuals and €40,000 for married couples. The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 (NRP) provides for the abolition of a number of reliefs and exemptions from income tax. One of the exemptions to be abolished is the income tax age exemption, which will be phased out over the four years of the plan. The details of how the measures will be implemented will be outlined in the relevant Budgets and Finance Bills.

Tax Reliefs

Richard Bruton

Question:

76 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if any change in the tax credit on bin charges up to a maximum of €400 is planned in the context of the four year budget plan. [45756/10]

In line with a recommendation of the Commission on Taxation, Finance Act 2010 provided for the abolition of tax relief for service charges. The relief was abolished for the tax year 2012 and subsequent tax years in respect of service charges paid in the financial year 2011 and subsequent financial years. Under existing legislation, the tax relief is available for the tax year 2011 in respect of service charges due and paid in the financial year 2010 and this remains unchanged.

Pension Provisions

Róisín Shortall

Question:

77 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the proposed changes to tax reliefs on pension contributions; the way proposals announced in the four year plan will impact differently on public and private sector workers. [45783/10]

The National Recovery Plan contains proposals for changes to the tax and other relief arrangements for private or supplementary pension provision over the period of the Plan, including a gradual reduction to standard rate income tax (20%) relief on employee/individual contributions to pension arrangements commencing in 2012. Pension contributions are made by certain employees in both the private and public sectors. Certain changes, including the removal of employee PRSI and Health Levy relief from employee pension contributions will take effect in 2011. While not a contribution to supplementary pension provision, per se, employee PRSI and Health Levy relief will also be removed from the public service pension-related deduction from 2011 while tax relief on the deduction will also be reduced to the standard rate over the period 2012 to 2014.

The National Recovery Plan includes some indicative impacts of the main income tax changes and, in terms of the changes to the existing reliefs on pension contributions, estimates that the net pay of a single individual in the private sector on €55,000 would fall by about 2.5% over the period to 2014 on foot of the main changes to pension reliefs involved.

The fall in net pay for a single individual on the same pay in the public service could be greater or less, depending on their circumstances, because of the reduction in tax and other reliefs on the pension-related deduction as well as on employee pension contributions which are made by the bulk of public servants.

The Plan recognises that the various changes proposed may reduce saving for private pension provision. The Government is committed to raising €700 million from the pension sector over the period of the Plan and is willing to engage with the sector to examine alternatives to deliver this outcome.

EU Funding

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

78 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the measure taken in negotiations with the European Central Bank, EU and International Monetary Fund to protect the National Pension Reserve Fund; his views regarding the use of €12.5 billion of the fund as part of the EU-ECB-IMF deal; the reason he did not prioritise a plan for growth and stimulus at any stage throughout the negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45786/10]

The Government announced on 28 November 2010 that it had agreed in principle to the provision of €85 billion of financial support to Ireland by Member States of the European Union through the European Financial Stability Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF); bilateral loans from the UK, Sweden and Denmark; and the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF) on the basis of specified conditions. The State's contribution to the €85 billion facility will be €17½ billion, which will come from the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) and other domestic cash resources. This means that the extent of the external assistance will be reduced to €67½ billion.

The purpose of the external financial support is to return our economy to sustainable growth and to ensure that we have a properly functioning, healthy banking system. We have agreed to use resources available to us to make our own contribution to the programme. The Programme for the Recovery of the Banking System will be an intensification of the measures already adopted by the Government. The programme provides for a fundamental downsizing and reorganisation of the banking sector so it is proportionate to the size of the economy. It will be capitalised to the highest international standards and in a position to return to normal market sources of funding, and it is appropriate that we should play our part in this through the National Pensions Reserve Fund. Furthermore, this State cannot ask taxpayers from other countries to contribute to a financial support package while leaving its own assets untouched.

In relation to fiscal policy and structural reform, the Programme for Support endorses the Government's budgetary adjustment plan of €15 billion over the next four years and the structural reforms contained in the National Recovery Plan which will underpin a return to sustainable economic growth over the coming years. The NPRF's commitment to infrastructure development as outlined in the National Recovery Plan is unaffected by the Fund's contribution to the financial support package.

European Single Currency

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

79 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the discussions he has had with the European Finance Ministers regarding the future of the single European currency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45788/10]

I attend meetings of the Eurogroup and Ecofin, which comprise the Finance Ministers of the Euro area and the EU respectively, together with the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB). It is a priority of the Eurogroup, ECOFIN and the European Council (EC) to ensure the financial stability of the Euro area and the EU as a whole. I can assure the Deputy that the supportive actions taken by the members of the Eurogroup, ECOFIN and the European Council are directed towards achieving this aim. The Eurogroup and ECOFIN agenda have focused on the impacts of the financial and economic crises for the economies of Euro area members, with the objective of ensuring the long-term stability of the euro. The Eurogroup and Ecofin have at all times acted decisively in response to changing global economic and financial market developments to support members experiencing financial difficulties.

In May of this year EU Finance Ministers unanimously agreed to activate stability support to Greece following a request for support from the Greek Government. The Eurogroup decided that a more comprehensive package of financial support measures was needed and established two assistance programmes, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Facility to financially support Member States in difficulties caused by exceptional circumstances beyond Member States' control.

In parallel with the above measures, and following agreement at European Council level, Eurogroup and ECOFIN have worked closely with the Van Rompuy Taskforce to reinforce economic policy coordination, initially through strengthening the Stability and Growth Pact and on developing a framework for identifying and correcting macroeconomic imbalances. On 28-29 October the European Council agreed on the need to set up a permanent mechanism to safeguard the financial stability of the euro area as a whole. At their meeting on Sunday 28th November Eurogroup Ministers agreed that this European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will be based on the European Financial Stability Facility and be capable of providing financial assistance packages to euro area Member States under strict conditionality and functioning according to the rules of the current EFSF.

The economic and fiscal situations of member states experiencing concerted pressure in the financial markets are discussed on the basis of assessments by the European Commission and contributions from the individual Ministers. This is a constructive discussion setting out the risks and challenges facing each euro area member and the necessary policy responses which are being considered by Ministers to counteract the severe pressures they are experiencing. The European Commission has endorsed Ireland's 4-year National Recovery plan for the period 2011-2014. I believe that the targets set out in the plan are achievable and provide a strong basis for enabling us to meet our commitments with regard to compliance with the terms of the Stability & Growth Pact. You will be aware that following an application by Ireland for external assistance, a joint programme of financial assistance by Europe and the IMF has been agreed for Ireland and was unanimously approved by Eurogroup and ECOFIN Ministers last weekend. The drawdown of this financial support is conditional upon our continuing to meet the expenditure and revenue targets set out in the plan. At last weekend's meetings Eurogroup and ECOFIN also decided upon a one year extension of our excessive deficit procedure to 2015, an immediate strengthening and comprehensive overhaul of the banking system and growth enhancing reforms, in particular in the labour market, to allow a return to robust and sustainable growth.

In conclusion, I believe it is clear that throughout the current crisis, euro area Member States have demonstrated their determination to take decisive and coordinated action to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole, and I am confident that this will continue to be the case.

Health Services

Pat Breen

Question:

80 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45679/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Finian McGrath

Question:

81 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [45648/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have referred the question to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Vaccination Programme

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

82 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the number of side effects young persons have experienced having received the cervical cancer vaccine; if she is satisfied that adequate information on possible side effects is given out with the consent form; her views on the fact that a private company is offering to provide this vaccine in some schools. [45685/10]

There are two vaccines licensed in Ireland to prevent HPV infection. Cervarix was licensed in September 2006 and Gardasil was licensed in September 2007. Both are therefore available privately for use under the direction of a medical practitioner and it is known that one insurer is offering a HPV vaccination service in some schools to girls not covered under the public scheme.

The public HPV immunisation programme commenced earlier this year in schools. It is estimated that up to 45,000 doses of Gardasil have been administered in the programme up to the end of October 2010. Prior to any girl receiving the first dose of Gardasil all parents/guardians receive a fact sheet, consent form and accompanying letter detailing when and where the vaccination will take place and containing a phone number to call if they have any queries. The fact sheet contains information in English and Irish about HPV itself and the vaccine, including possible side effects and contraindications. The contents of this agreed national fact sheet were developed using the guidance of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) to ensure clarity, as well as any feedback from parents whose daughters received the first does of vaccine in May 2010. At the back of the fact sheet parents/guardians are advised that they can read more about HPV vaccine and cervical cancer atwww.hpv.ie. This website contains additional information including the Patient Information Leaflet and Summary of Product Characteristics (the licensed information about the vaccine) and also directs parents to the national immunisation website www.immunisation.ie which contains the fact sheet translated into eight other languages as well as further additional information for health professionals. The www.hpv.ie website also allows parents to email any queries they may have and these are responded to by the National Immunisation Office within 24 hours.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) received a total of 105 reports of adverse events associated with the use of Gardasil up to 29 November 2010. The reports have been mainly consistent with the expected pattern of adverse effects for the vaccine, as outlined in the product information, and include cases of injection site reactions, malaise, headache, myalgia, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms and skin reactions (including urticaria). Vaccination related events such as dizziness and syncope (fainting) were among the most commonly reported reactions. Hypersensitivity reactions were also received including a small number of reports of anaphylactic-type reactions. These cases were investigated and reviewed by the IMB and where appropriate, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). These adverse events are within the acceptable limits as outlined in the Gardasil Summary of Product Characteristics. On the basis of the available evidence, the IMB considers that the benefits of the vaccine exceed its risks and both the IMB and NIAC recommend its continued use. The IMB together with the European Medicines Agency will continue to monitor closely the safety of Gardasil.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

83 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45692/10]

As this is a service matter it has again been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Pat Breen

Question:

84 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45695/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Ambulance Service

Michael Ring

Question:

85 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if the ambulance control centre for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, which is currently located in Castlebar, is being transferred to Ballyshannon. [45698/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

94 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if consultation has taken place with staff in the ambulance control centre for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in Castlebar about the possibility of the ambulance control centre being transferred to Ballyshannon. [45721/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 94 together.

The establishment within the HSE of a National Ambulance Service has enabled a major programme of reform and improvement to be commenced. This aims to maximise operational efficiency and provide a more responsive and appropriate emergency ambulance service. The HSE, with the support of the Department of Health and Children and the Health Information and Quality Authority, has determined that the needs of the Irish health service can best be met by the establishment of two ambulance control centres for the country. While the needs of the service could be met by a single centre, it is considered more appropriate to have a second centre in order to ensure that a back-up capability will always be available.

One of these centres will be located in the east of the country, with the second in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. The project to establish a single control centre model has significantly advanced with the recent closure of Naas Control Centre and transfer of its functions into Dublin. A phased process of further change is planned during 2011 and this includes the control functions currently located in Castlebar being relocated to Ballyshannon in the first quarter of the New Year. The HSE is engaged with staff representative bodies in relation to the planned changes.

I am satisfied that these changes will enable the most appropriate ambulance resources to be despatched as expeditiously and efficiently as possible in the interests of provided a safe and high-quality service to the public.

Mental Health Services

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

86 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason 16 and 17 year olds who need to access mental health services cannot be seen by child and adolescent psychiatry services rather than adult psychiatry services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45699/10]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Services

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

87 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason 16 and 17 year olds cannot access the 24-hour on-call service for children and adolescents up to the age of 15 in the Mater and Temple Street hospitals, as there is no 24-hour on-call service at Beaumont; if she will make this facility available for emergency assessments for Beaumont Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45700/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Car Parks

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

88 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of revenue received from car parking at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, and to date in 2010; on what the revenue generated was spent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45701/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Staff

James Reilly

Question:

89 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the total number of grade VIII managers for each of the years from 2000 to 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45709/10]

The numbers of Grade VIIIs employed in the public health service for the years 2000 to 2010 are set out in the table. As can be seen from the data, following a peak in 2007, the number of Grade VIIIs has been decreasing steadily due to employment control measures introduced by my Department.

Numbers of Grade VIIIs employed in the public health service

Date

Total WTE excl. career break

31/12/2000

6.00

31/12/2001

271.14

31/12/2002

459.75

31/12/2003

468.81

31/12/2004

495.55

31/12/2005

520.70

31/12/2006

602.40

31/12/2007

715.92

31/12/2008

699.85

31/12/2009

687.42

30/09/2010

656.67

Health Services

James Reilly

Question:

90 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of primary care centres planned under the primary care strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45710/10]

The HSE has developed a generic model Primary Care Centre brief to accommodate Primary Care Teams. Approximately 270 possible locations for such centres were identified by the HSE. These were advertised in two stages in late 2007 and mid 2008. The HSE has summarised the progress to date as follows:

Approximately 220 new primary care centres are currently under consideration.

In 210 locations, the HSE Board has agreed to proceed with negotiations with interested parties.

107 centres are currently in contractual negotiations which will accommodate 137 teams.

12 centres procured by lease agreement are complete and in operation.

A further 6 centres are expected to open by the end of 2010.

The HSE expects at least 115 primary care centres to be operational by 2013, supporting 160 teams.

The HSE has indicated that all these figures are approximate and that projections will change every quarter due to negotiations being progressed or finalised, projects not progressing due to various issues, including planning, banking and market issues. The HSE is continuing to develop a number of Primary Care Centres funded through its Capital Allocation. A number of these centres are at advanced stages of development.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

91 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue on an appeal for supplementary welfare assistance towards the cost of a rent deposit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45712/10]

I understand from the HSE that a reply issued to the Deputy on 5 November 2010.

Child Abuse

Denis Naughten

Question:

92 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 242 of 9 November 2010, when the review will be complete; if any issues of concern have arisen to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45715/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

National Lottery Funding

Pat Breen

Question:

93 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if a group (details supplied) will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45719/10]

Joe Carey

Question:

103 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for national lottery funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45778/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 103 together.

Grants from National Lottery funding are considered and approved by the Minister for Health and Children based on the recommendation of the relevant section within the Department. In the case of the group in question, I understand that the Childcare Directorate of my Office has considered the application in question and has passed its recommendation to the Minister's office. I understand that a decision on the application will by made shortly following which the group will be advised of the outcome.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 85.

Health Services

John McGuinness

Question:

95 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if further home help hours will be allocated in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [45734/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Question:

96 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for a medical card now under appeal will be expedited in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [45761/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

97 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which she proposes to provide funding for upgrading, improvement of facilities or otherwise extending the various health centres throughout County Kildare; the timescale for same; if extra accommodation will be arranged for Johnstownbridge health centre in view of the increased demand for its services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45768/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

98 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a primary medical certificate will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45770/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Frank Feighan

Question:

99 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the project plan to map out the future configuration of the services across Galway and Roscommon hospitals will be completed. [45773/10]

Frank Feighan

Question:

100 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if Roscommon County Hospital is to become a category 2 hospital with only elective and routine surgery being carried out. [45774/10]

Frank Feighan

Question:

101 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Health Service Executive west is recommending the closure of the accident and emergency unit at the County Hospital in Roscommon as part of the plans to turn it into a category 2 hospital. [45775/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 to 101, inclusive, together.

As these are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Staff

Frank Feighan

Question:

102 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a commitment to have a nurse reinstated to run the day care services at a premises (details supplied) in Boyle, County Roscommon has not materialised. [45776/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 93.

Mental Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

104 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has revised the target for child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric beds down from 100 beds as recommended in A Vision for Change to 80 beds; the basis of this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45779/10]

No changes have been made in relation to the target for child and adolescent in-patient psychiatric beds.‘A Vision for Change’ recognised that a small percentage of children with mental health disorders will require in patient admission and indicated that it was necessary to provide 100 beds nationally. As 20 suitable child and adolescent beds were in place at the time of publication, the net requirement is 80 beds. ‘A Vision for Change’ also recommended the provision of 10 child and adolescent high secure beds.

Dan Neville

Question:

105 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding required to increase the child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric bed capacity to 80 beds; if funding has been committed for the development of these beds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45780/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

106 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding required to increase the child and adolescent inpatient psychiatric bed capacity to 100 beds; if funding has been committed for the development of these beds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45781/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 106 together.

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Accident and Emergency Services

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

107 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of alcohol-related admissions to accident and emergency departments in each of the years 2008 to 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45792/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

108 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [45794/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Road Network

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

109 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the quantity of salt and grit held by each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45787/10]

The National Roads Authority (NRA) was tasked, as the result of the Transport review of last year's severe weather event with responsibility for salt supplies during periods of prolonged severe weather. In early August of this year, the NRA advertised a Framework Contract for the supply of de-icing salt for the Winter. The primary objectives were to (a) ensure that there is an adequate supply of salt to cover the Winter period and (b) to provide an effective framework within which additional supplies of salt could be procured in a timely fashion compliant with procurement obligations, should weather conditions so dictate.

The existence of this Framework Contract does not preclude local authorities from purchasing salt supplies from other sources. The NRA and local authorities are working closely together to keep the NRA fully apprised as to the quantities of salt being purchased independently to ensure there is a clear picture of salt stocks. The figures for salt stocks in the local authority sector are being co-ordinated and updated by the NRA on a daily basis. The NRA is also co-ordinating the supply of salt stocks to local authorities on a needs basis and stocks in the different authorities will vary from day to day.

Crime Levels

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

110 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the burglary, theft from vehicle and public order crime statistics for Coolock Garda station, Dublin 5 for 2007 to 2010; if additional measures are being taken to deal with these crimes in this Garda district; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45702/10]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy. I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the measures that are being taken to tackle the type of crime in the Garda District referred to. I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Departmental Reports

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

111 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will publish the report prepared by him following the recent Dignity (Daphne III) Project visit to Sweden; his views on whether replicating the ban on the purchase of sex is feasible in Ireland; when the report will be available to Members of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45703/10]

Further to my reply to question No. 14 tabled for answer by the Deputy on 7 October, I have examined the report completed by my Department following the Dignity Project visit to Sweden in September. As stated in my earlier reply, any proposal to amend the law to create an offence of purchasing sex would require very careful consideration. I have asked the Attorney General to examine the report and requested his views on the legal and constitutional implications of introducing such a ban here. I have no difficulty in releasing the report as soon as the Attorney General has completed his examination of it.

Registration of Title

Denis Naughten

Question:

112 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of applications processed by the Land Registry and Property Registration Authority in 2003 and each subsequent year; the numbers processed to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45714/10]

I can inform the Deputy that the role of the Property Registration Authority (PRA) is to manage and control the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds and to promote and extend the registration of ownership of land. The PRA also operates the Ground Rents Purchase Scheme under the Landlord and Tenant Acts.

An application to the Land Registry may include multiple transactions, for example an application may include a transfer of property, a charge on the property and a release of a charge. The following table sets out the number of applications for registration received, including Ground Rents applications and completed in the years 2003 to end of November 2010.

Year

Land Registry Applications

Registry of Deeds Applications

Intake

Output

Intake

Output

2003

190,026

178,164

73,228

76,496

2004

204,169

216,225

78,907

83,464

2005

217,529

228,355

68,991

92,859

2006

248,721

227,077

74,724

80,110

2007

266,997

224,594

74,915

81,943

2008

249,820

253,132

69,083

78,748

2009

207,553

241,918

42,828

51,334

2010 to date

139,921

187,848

32,550

37,180

Citizenship Applications

John McGuinness

Question:

113 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when an application for naturalisation will be determined in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [45759/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2009. The application is currently being processed in the normal way with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision in due course.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Travel Documents

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding travel documents in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45765/10]

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 244 of 30 September 2010 which outlines the current position surrounding the possible issue of an Irish Travel Document to the person concerned. The lack of recognition afforded by the French authorities to the Togolese travel document, held by the person in question, is a matter for the consular authorities of his own country to address and should be taken up directly with them.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45766/10]

I wish to refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 217 of 11 November 2010. I am informed that the person concerned did present for registration at her local Immigration Office on 20 November. However, she was refused registration on foot of a PULSE check and a report in relation to same will be forwarded to the Irish Born Child unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service shortly. On consideration of her case file, INIS will contact the person concerned regarding her future status in the State.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

116 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of tribunals of inquiry in operation here; the name and role of each tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45785/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Smithwick Tribunal is the only on-going Tribunal of Inquiry currently in operation in relation to an issue within the responsibility of my Department. The Smithwick Tribunal was established in 2005 to investigate allegations that members of An Garda Síochána or other State employees may have colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan on the 20 March, 1989. The sole member of the tribunal is His Honour Judge Peter Smithwick. The Deputy might wish to note that more information on the Smithwick Tribunal can be obtained at www.smithwicktribunal.ie.

Legal Services Ombudsman

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

117 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when he plans to provide a Legal Services Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45790/10]

The position of Legal Services Ombudsman will be filled by an open competition conducted by the Public Appointments Service. The competition was advertised on 19 November, 2010 and the closing date for applications is 9 December, 2010. I expect that an appointment will be made early in the New Year.

Passport Applications

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

118 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 4 is eligible to apply for an Irish passport; if an application has been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45717/10]

The Passports Act, 2008 requires that before issuing a passport to a person, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be satisfied that that person is an Irish citizen. Documentary proof in respect of identity and entitlement to citizenship are required for all passport applications. The Passport Service has no record of a passport application from the person in question and does not have sufficient information to ascertain if the person is entitled to apply for an Irish passport.

Social Welfare Benefits

Sean Sherlock

Question:

119 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide a breakdown per county of the number of farming families in receipt of farm assist for the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45650/10]

The information requested by the deputy is contained in the tabular statement.

Table: Recipients of Farm Assist by County, 2008 to 2010

County

2008

2009

2010 (October)

Carlow

56

70

99

Cavan

273

343

401

Clare

417

511

626

Cork

582

757

897

Donegal

1,053

1,219

1,354

Dublin

9

10

11

Galway

782

954

1,110

Kerry

547

640

724

Kildare

33

43

55

Kilkenny

112

135

174

Laois

75

96

138

Leitrim

209

260

309

Limerick

182

231

262

Longford

91

129

174

Louth

59

68

74

Mayo

1,401

1,550

1,645

Meath

57

74

92

Monaghan

386

440

511

Offaly

70

88

123

Roscommon

274

320

408

Sligo

354

409

467

Tipperary

181

262

341

Waterford

41

49

73

Westmeath

72

96

124

Wexford

129

163

187

Wicklow

51

55

75

Total

7,496

8,972

10,454

Jack Wall

Question:

120 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare was refused supplementary welfare allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45665/10]

In the time frame available, I regret that my Department is not in a position to reply to this question. My Department will be in contact with the Deputy over the coming days and will reply in full to the question raised.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

121 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the justification for not allowing a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 who has no income to claim a jobseeker’s payment while they participate in devilling and the basis on which the labour market activation programme and FÁS apprenticeship programmes can both permit the payment of State income support when a person in this circumstance cannot benefit from any at all; if there is any way in which a person in these circumstances might qualify for some form of income support. [45671/10]

In order to qualify for jobseeker's allowance or jobseeker's benefit, a person must satisfy certain conditions which include being available for and looking for full-time work. As the person concerned is not available for full-time work while undertaking ‘devilling', she will not qualify for a jobseeker's payment.

The Labour Market Activation Fund, which was launched in March of this year, is used to generate training and educational places for categories of customers in receipt of a jobseeker's payment, in a range of organisations, including in the private sector, the not-for-profit sector and in public sector providers. The fund is targeted at specific "priority" groups among the unemployed, i.e., the low-skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors — construction, retail and manufacturing — with particular emphasis on the under 35s and the long-term unemployed.

Apprenticeship is the recognised means by which people are trained to become crafts people. The main craft trades have been designated by FÁS and come within the scope of the Statutory Apprenticeship system, which is organised by FÁS in co-operation with the Department of Education and Science, employers and unions. ‘Devilling' does not come within the remit of this programme.

Social Welfare Code

Richard Bruton

Question:

122 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to extend family income supplement to persons who are self-employed whose business is not generating sufficient income to support their family; the type of accounts that would be required of a self-employed person to establish the income flow coming into their business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45676/10]

The Family Income Supplement (FIS) payment provides income support for employees on low earnings with children. The payment is designed to preserve the financial incentive to take-up or remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might be marginally better off in employment than on social welfare payments. To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in insurable employment which is expected to last for at least three months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week.

The reasons for not extending the scheme to include the self-employed are twofold. Firstly, it would be impossible to establish satisfactorily their eligibility as their hours of employment would be difficult to establish and certify on an ongoing basis. Secondly, there are arrangements already in place to provide income support to self-employed people on low incomes, such as through Jobseeker's Allowance and through Farm Assist for low-income farmers.

There would be considerable practical difficulties in defining and controlling an alternative to the hours worked condition. An extension of the FIS scheme would in effect fundamentally change the nature of the scheme and raise the risk of self-employed workers reducing the number of hours that they worked and/or under declaring their income to qualify for payment. Furthermore, the cost of extending the scheme to the self-employed would be considerable. For these reasons, it would not be feasible or desirable to extend FIS to the self-employed in its current form. There are no plans for extending FIS to the self employed at the present time.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brian O'Shea

Question:

123 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an illness benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45678/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 10 June 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 November 2010 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Finian McGrath

Question:

124 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45693/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has made an application for mortgage interest supplement but no decision has been made on the application. The HSE will contact the person concerned when a decision has been made.

Joe Behan

Question:

125 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will support the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45724/10]

Following a review of her carer's allowance claim it was decided that the person concerned was not entitled to payment as she was no longer providing full-time care. She was notified of the decision on 31st August 2010 and she has lodged an appeal against the decision. The person concerned applied for one parent family payment from 30th September 2010. Her file has been referred to an Inspector for an assessment of her current circumstances. The person concerned was paid supplementary welfare allowance from 10th September 2010 to 14th October 2010 when her payment was suspended. She requested a review of the decision to suspend her payment and this review is currently being carried out by the Health Service Executive.

Michael Creed

Question:

126 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason he is not processing applications regarding the payment of arrears on State contributory pension where entitlement has been established by virtue of farm partnership and the reconciliation of PRSI contributions; the number of applications being delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45729/10]

All State pension (contributory) claims received where entitlement has been established by virtue of farm partnership have been fully processed. All outstanding arrears have now issued for payment and will be received by the individuals concerned within the next week.

Social Welfare Code

Richard Bruton

Question:

127 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons on one parent family allowance and disability allowance can retain full payment when taking up community employment. [45749/10]

One parent family payment and disability allowance are means tested social assistance payments. Income from insurable employment is assessable for social assistance purposes, subject to the various weekly disregards and tapering arrangements which apply to the respective schemes. Where a recipient of either one of these schemes participates in a community employment scheme, the income received from such participation is derived from insurable employment.

Accordingly, the income received as a result of participation in a community employment programme is treated, for means test purposes, in the same way as income from any other employment and is assessed accordingly. The level of means assessed varies depending on the level of income from the community employment programme and the rate of one parent family payment or disability allowance payable is the maximum rate of these payments, appropriate to the given family, less the means assessed.

Richard Bruton

Question:

128 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will detail the circumstances in which mortgage interest supplement can be granted to a family; the maximum amount that can be granted; the maximum duration during which it can be granted and the rules for withdrawal of supplement where a person returns to full-time employment. [45751/10]

Detailed guidelines in relation to mortgage interest supplement are available on the Departments website (www.welfare.ie). These guidelines set out the type of information the Deputy has requested. I will arrange for a copy of these guidelines to issue to the Deputy.

Richard Bruton

Question:

129 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection the means test on rent payment that will apply to a person returning to full-time employment who is on rent supplement but who has been accepted for the rental accommodation scheme. [45754/10]

Rent supplement is calculated to ensure that an eligible person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the rate of supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to his or her family circumstances, less a minimum weekly contribution of €24 which each recipient is required to pay from his or her own resources. Many recipients pay more than €24 a week towards their accommodation costs because they are also required to contribute a portion of any additional assessable means that they may have over and above the appropriate basic supplementary welfare allowance rate.

The rent supplement assessment provides for a gradual withdrawal of payment as earnings increase. Those availing of part-time employment and/or training opportunities can continue to receive rent supplement subject to their satisfying the standard means assessment rules. Where a person has additional income in excess of the standard weekly rate of supplementary welfare allowance, the first €75 of such additional income together with 25% of any additional income above €75 is disregarded for means assessment purposes.

Rent supplement is not normally payable where a person or their spouse or partner is in full-time employment, i.e. for 30 hours or more a week. However, a person on rent supplement, who is accepted as eligible for accommodation under the rental accommodation scheme (RAS), may return to full-time work, and be considered for assistance under the rent supplement scheme subject to the means test described above.

Social Welfare Appeals

John McGuinness

Question:

130 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for rent allowance now under appeal will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [45757/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has been refused rent supplement as he has alternative accommodation available to him, he does not have a housing need and he does not meet the habitual residence condition. The HSE has further advised that the person concerned has appealed the decision to the HSE Appeals Office and it will contact the person concerned when a decision has been made.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a review of one parent family allowance will be undertaken in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45767/10]

A review of the one parent family payment of the person concerned was carried out on 30th November 2010 which resulted in her means being revised downwards to €60 per week. Arrears due will be included in her payment on 2nd December 2010.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason mortgage support has been refused in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; if he will arrange for an appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45772/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has made an application for mortgage interest supplement but no decision has been made on the application. The HSE will contact the person concerned when a decision has been made.

Foreshore Licences

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

133 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to review and amend the power under which he can terminate a foreshore licence at any time by giving three months notice in writing without payment of compensation or refund to the licensee; his views that the uncertainty that results from this provision inhibits the acquisition of development funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45673/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

134 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of applications for foreshore licence being processed; the number of the current applications that already have planning permission; the number of applications that have been delayed because of problems with the termination clauses of the foreshore licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45674/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 134 together.

Most of the foreshore is State property within the meaning of the State Property Act and ownership is vested in the Minister for Finance on behalf of the State. Where a development is proposed on the foreshore, both the property element and the regulatory element are determined within the foreshore consent process. The regulatory element is similar to planning permission under the Planning Acts. Both elements are dealt with in one document through a foreshore lease or licence which is issued, permitting the development, generally subject to specified conditions, and setting out the rent payable to the State.

As Minister with responsibility for administering the foreshore, I have a statutory obligation to include in all foreshore consents granted such covenants, conditions, and agreements as I consider necessary in the public interest, and which must be agreed with the person to whom consent is being granted. My Department is advised by the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO) in this respect.

Accordingly, while standard versions of leases and licences are offered to applicants, the detailed terms and conditions are subject to discussion on a case by case basis. Where issues of the nature raised in the Questions pose an impediment for the applicant, every effort is made to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome consistent with my statutory obligation to act at all times in the public interest.

The requirement for planning permission to be in place for on-land development is a prerequisite to the determination of development consent and the granting of a licence or lease under the Foreshore Acts, and is assessed on a case by case basis. More than 300 of the 700 cases that transferred to my Department are active foreshore applications for leases and licences. These applications vary in terms of the size of the infrastructure project, level of complexity and state of progression through the foreshore consent process.

Community Development

Brian O'Shea

Question:

135 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will address the concerns of County Waterford community forum regarding its future (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45680/10]

As set out in The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 our current economic circumstances mean that public expenditure has had to be substantially reduced across Departments, agencies and programmes. As a result there are now competing demands for very scarce resources from a range of genuine interests, and difficult decisions have to be taken. The priority in these circumstances is to limit, to the greatest extent possible, the impact of expenditure reductions on essential services and on those most in need. In this context a review of the funding made available to the Fora from my Department's vote is necessary and unavoidable. However, the community and voluntary fora will continue to be supported and the matter will be dealt with in the estimates. It is also important to acknowledge the continued financial support by local authorities for the participation of Fora representatives on County/City Development Boards, Strategic Policy Committees and Joint Policing Committees.

The work undertaken by the community and voluntary fora is valued and should continue, and I will be writing shortly to the National Community and Voluntary Forum which acts as the National Executive for the Fora.

Register of Electors

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

136 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm that in the event of a general election taking place before 15 February 2011 that persons who have added themselves to the draft register of electors 2011-2012 will have their names automatically included in the supplementary voters register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45687/10]

Electoral law provides that the Register of Electors comes into force on 15 February annually and remains in force until the day before the date on which the next Register comes into force. Individuals not on the Register can avail of the supplement to the Register up until 15 days before the next polling day. The preparation of the Register is a matter for each local registration authority, whose duty is to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register.

Homelessness Strategy

Richard Bruton

Question:

137 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of homeless persons identified in the homeless counts of 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the action he will take to reduce the incidence of homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45696/10]

Richard Bruton

Question:

138 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the targets he has set to reduce homelessness; if these targets have been met in 2007, 2008, 2009, and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45697/10]

I propose take Questions Nos. 137 and 138 together.

I refer to reply of Question No. 242 of 30 November 2010 which sets out the position on meeting the Government's targets for tackling homelessness. The Counted In survey, which is a special purpose count of people using homeless services carried out in Dublin every three years since 1999 through the Homeless Agency, supported by my Department, is generally considered to provide the most robust indicator. The results of the most recent survey, in March 2008, reported a total of 1,436 homeless households in Dublin, compared with 1,361 in 2005. While this was a numerical increase of around 5%, the position relative to overall population was unchanged. A further 708 households were recorded as residing in long-term or transitional accommodation; however, it would not be correct to regard all of these as homeless, particularly where, for example, households were resident in suitable accommodation that would be likely to provide their most appropriate home in the long-term, or where they had begun to make a transition out of homelessness.

The Counted In survey method was also used for the first time in Cork, Galway and Limerick in 2008. The results indicated a total of 767 households homeless in these centres. However, that figure includes households in long-term and transitional accommodation some of whom, as indicated in relation to Dublin, should not properly be regarded as homeless. The next Counted In survey is due to take place in 2011.

Departmental Expenditure

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

139 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expected cost of establishing the position of the directly elected Dublin mayor; the expected annual cost of the position; the staff costs and ancillary costs; the cost of establishing a greater Dublin regional authority and any other required structures; the way such funding will be raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45713/10]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 63 of 19 October 2010 which sets out the position on this matter.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Phil Hogan

Question:

140 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the intended commencement date for section 75 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 (S. 261A of Consolidated Act) in relation to the control of quarries and in particular the submission of substitute consent applications to the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45718/10]

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 contains a number of substantial amendments to the 2000 Act, including: provision for a new "substitute consent" procedure to allow projects that would have required environmental impact assessment to be retrospectively regularized in exceptional and very limited circumstances by way of a "substitute consent" procedure; the incorporation of requirements of the EU Habitats Directive into the development plan and planning consent processes; and provision for a new examination of the planning status of quarries, including public consultation procedures, following which some quarries may be required to apply for substitute consent or may be required to cease operation.

My Department is currently preparing consequential amending regulations which are required before some of these provisions can be commenced. Acknowledging the complexity of the new provisions relating to quarries, my Department is also preparing detailed guidance on these new provisions, in consultation with key stakeholders including planning authorities and industry representatives.

I expect that the enabling regulations and the associated guidance on the new quarry provisions will be finalised in the coming weeks, with the intention of commencing the relevant provisions of the 2010 Act, including section 75, as soon as possible thereafter.

Local Authority Services

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

141 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will ensure that a co-ordinated plan will be put in place between the local authorities and the Irish Farmers Association to assist rural communities to clear heavy snow and ice this winter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45733/10]

This is primarily a matter for my colleague the Minister for Transport. In that context my understanding of the position is as follows.

The agreed priority for local authorities during periods of severe cold is to keep the full national road network and other key strategic routes and public transport routes open for traffic. These roads carry an estimated 60% of total traffic and about 80% of commercial traffic. Other roads are dealt with on a needs basis by local authorities, for example to provide access to medical facilities, emergency services, schools and commercial districts. Local authorities also take a pragmatic approach and respond to specific situations or community events.

Local authorities also liaise with An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and relevant Voluntary/ Community organisations including where appropriate the Irish Farmers Association to address specific issues, including working with Civil Defence/ Defence Forces, as necessary, to ensure that key services, such as public health personnel are able to access isolated clients in rural areas and to deal with specific priorities which are agreed locally.

Private Rented Accommodation

Richard Bruton

Question:

142 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average rent granted to persons on the rental accommodation scheme and the aggregate value of the rents collected. [45755/10]

Under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), households pay a contribution towards their rent to the local authority. The level of contribution is determined by the local authority by reference to each authority's Differential Rent Scheme, and will vary from authority to authority. Over time this contribution will vary to take into account changes in the income and family circumstances of the household concerned.

Public Procurement

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

143 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress he has made in developing a national action plan on green procurement; when the plan will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45789/10]

A discussion document, Towards a National Action Plan on Green Public Procurement,was published by my Department in May 2010. The document outlined the key issues that could be addressed by a National Action Plan and proposed priority product groups for which the public sector should have GPP criteria in their tendering processes. The document was made available on my Department’s website to facilitate a structured public consultation process, details of which were also advertised in the national press. The public consultation process closed in September and over 60 written submissions were received.

These submissions are now being examined by my Department and work is well advanced in finalising the National Action Plan in consultation with the Department of Finance and the National Procurement Service within the Office of Public Works. Seven priority areas will be identified in the National Action Plan — construction; transport; energy; food and catering services; paper; textiles; and cleaning products and services. Other areas are likely to be identified as implementation of the Plan progresses. It is intended to finalise and publish the Plan early in 2011.

Northern Ireland Issues

Joe McHugh

Question:

144 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will engage with the Northern Ireland Minister for Regional Development and Intertrade Ireland to establish a formal economic link between Derry and Buncrana, which share strong cultural, historical, social, geographical and commercial connections; if he will consider applying the twin city Newry and Dundalk incorporating the wider east Border region model here; his views on whether this proposal is compatible with Shaping our Future 2025 (NI) and that it can co-exist with the Derry-Letterkenny strategic corridor programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45793/10]

My Department enjoys a close working relationship with Northern Ireland's Department of Regional Development on cross-border areas of common interest, including in particular on joint initiatives which can help to inform and frame development and investment opportunities within a broader spatial planning context which can benefit the economies and citizens of both jurisdictions. For example, building on research commissioned by InterTrade Ireland and carried out by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD), a Framework for Collaboration on Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland has been drafted, which outlines the scope for strategic integration and interaction of the National Spatial Strategy and the Northern Ireland Regional Development Strategy to provide a shared spatial planning context on an all-island basis.

A number of sub-regional cross-border initiatives are also being progressed. In relation to the North West of the island, the North West Gateway Initiative has been established to explore ways of developing closer co-operation and partnership between Donegal County Council and Derry City, Strabane Town and Limavady Town Councils to maximise the potential of the North West area.

As part of this Initiative, a high-level integrated spatial planning framework has been prepared jointly by the two Departments, in consultation with the local councils and regional representative bodies, for the main urban centres in the area, focusing on the Derry-Letterkenny linked gateway and the four local council areas of Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Donegal. The non-statutory framework is based on shared objectives for:

attracting national and international investment;

improving connectivity, both within the region and between the region and the rest of the island;

facilitating more co-ordinated and accessible services and activities to enhance citizens' quality of life; and

providing a more coherent approach to planning for future development in the region.

It is within this context that economic and other links between these Council areas, including potential links between Buncrana and Derry, can be explored.

Departmental Reports

Michael Ring

Question:

145 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when a report (details supplied) will be furnished. [45732/10]

On 30th April last I set out proposals for a limited extension of the sporting events which are designated free-to-air and invited submissions on those proposals. I also decided that the final decision on this matter will be informed by an independent analysis of the financial and other impacts of listing each event. Indecon International Consultants were commissioned to do this report and I can confirm that the report has been submitted to my Department.

After consideration of the Indecon report and other submissions received, I will revert to Government with definitive proposals. Subsequent to Government consideration of the matter, I am required under the AVMS Directive to inform the EU Commission of any changes to the events to be designated. The Commission has a period of three months to verify that the list is compatible with Community Law, to notify other Member States and to seek the opinion of the Committee established pursuant to the Directive. Any designation will only be effective after the Commission has published the list in the Official Journal.

I propose to publish all the submissions and the final report at the end of the process, subject to the usual considerations including, inter alia, protection of commercially confidential information that has been made available to me.

Grant Payments

Phil Hogan

Question:

146 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when an application for single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45647/10]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 15 May 2010. This application was selected for and was the subject of a Ground Eligibility and Full Cross Compliance Inspection. The inspection process is complete and the results are now being processed. Under EU regulations governing the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and the Single Payment Scheme all Ground Eligibility Inspections must be completed before any payment can issue to any applicant under either scheme, including those not selected for a Ground Eligibility Inspection.

In the vast majority of cases that were inspected amendments have had to be made to the maps in order that the Land Parcel Identification System that is used for making payments to farmers is kept up-to-date. Processing of these changes is continuing with priority being given to applications that were the subject of a Ground Eligibility Inspection.

Live Exports

Michael Ring

Question:

147 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there are new regulations coming into place on 1 January 2011 in respect of exporting cattle to Northern Ireland or England and if legislation is required for same. [45652/10]

There are no new regulations coming into place on 1 of January 2011 in relation to the export of cattle to Northern Ireland or England.

Grant Payments

John Perry

Question:

148 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will receive area aid payments as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45659/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. During validation of the application a ‘missing map' error was identified in respect of a number of land parcels declared. This matter was resolved following correspondence between the person named and my Department. The 50% advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme, which issued on 18 October, the 75% advance under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, which issued on 23 September and the balancing payment under the Single Payment Scheme, which issued on 1 December, were on the basis of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage, as a number of other parcels listed on the application of the person named required digitisation.

Following re-digitisation of the maps, an over-claim was identified in respect of one land parcel, while in respect of another land parcel, the person named had not indicated whether it was ‘owned, rented or leased'. My Department has written to the person named regarding these matters. Once a reply has been received, his application can be further processed with a view to the remaining payments issuing shortly thereafter.

On-farm Investment Schemes

Denis Naughten

Question:

149 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to introduce a grant for on-farm water harvesting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45669/10]

EU Commission approval for the introduction of five targeted modernisation schemes focused on supporting productive investment in the agricultural sector was received earlier this year. Due to the relatively short time-frames for completion of the investment works concerned, priority was given to the introduction of the Sow Welfare and Poultry Welfare Schemes which were launched on 16 June last. The Sheep Fencing/Handling Scheme opened for applications on 1 November. The remaining on-farm investment schemes provided for in Ireland's Rural Development Programme are the Dairy Equipment and Water Harvesting Schemes. However, no dates have yet been fixed for their introduction.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

150 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45686/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 22 April 2010. The land parcel declared by the applicant required re-digitisation. This process has now been completed and the person named was paid in full on 1st December.

Charitable Organisations

Finian McGrath

Question:

151 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will supply the names of charities (details supplied). [45689/10]

The details requested will be forwarded to the Deputy.

Grant Payments

Paul Connaughton

Question:

152 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway did not receive a single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45704/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. On processing the application an over-claim was identified on one of the parcels declared by the applicant and he was written to in this regard on 13 September 2010.This issue has now been resolved in favour of the person named and the payment due in respect of the Single Payment Scheme issued on 1 December.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

153 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not received their REPS 4 payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45705/10]

The EU Regulations governing REPS 4 and other area-based schemes provide that payments issue in two instalments. The first instalment of 75% may be paid once all administrative checks on all applications, as well as cross-checks against areas declared on Single Payment Scheme applications, have been completed. This process is underway and my objective is to make all payments for 2010 as soon as possible. The balancing payment of 25% can issue once all on-the-spot inspections for the year have taken place and these will be completed shortly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

154 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway did not receive their single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45706/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 20 April 2010. Advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme issued on 18 October in respect of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application, required re-digitisation, this process is now complete and the full balancing payment due in respect of the Single Payment Scheme issued on 1 December to the person named.

Willie Penrose

Question:

155 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45795/10]

An application under 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. The 50% advance payment, which issued on 18 October 2010, was on the basis of the land cleared at that stage, as a number of parcels declared required digitising.

Balancing payments under the scheme, which commenced this week, would, in normal circumstances, be confined to those whose applications are fully processed, specifically, where all digitising is finalised. However, following recent consultation with the EU Commission, agreement was reached whereby, in addition to issuing balancing payments to those farmers whose applications are fully processed and whose maps are fully digitised, payments will also issue to those farmers where some or all of their maps are still to be digitised, with the payment being calculated on the basis of the digitised land confirmed otherwise eligible.

I am pleased to say that, because of this change, many farmers, including the person named, whose balancing payments would otherwise have been delayed until their digitising is complete, will now receive an interim balancing payment. These farmers, including the person named, will receive the final instalment of their balancing payment when their maps are re-digitised and their applications are fully clear.

Willie Penrose

Question:

156 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45796/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 20 April 2010. The 50% advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme, which issued on 18 October, was on the basis of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. Following re-digitisation of a number of parcels listed on the application of the person named, over-claims were identified in respect of two land parcels. My Department wrote to the person named regarding this matter, and the reply has been received to state that the amended reference areas are not being accepted by the applicant. Therefore, the file has been referred back for further review, which will be completed as quickly as possible. Immediately this process is completed, the file will be further processed with a view to the payment due issuing shortly thereafter.

Common Fisheries Policy

Joe McHugh

Question:

157 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45803/10]

The December Agriculture and Fisheries Council sets the annual TACs and quotas and fishing effort limits for the following year. Since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, any issues relating to other aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy, such as amending the Cod Recovery Plan as set down in Council Regulation 1342/2008 or the amendment of the transitional technical measuresCouncil Regulation No 1288/2009 and Council Regulation 850/98 on technical conservation measures is subject to specific proposals from the EU Commission and co-decision arrangements involving the Fisheries Council and the European Parliament.

For the December Fisheries Council, no such proposals from the EU Commission are under discussion. However, an amendment to Council Regulation 1288/2009 on transitional technical measures has been brought forward by the Commission involving the roll over the current measures in that Regulation to 1 January 2013. I am seeking amendments to this proposal, including changes to the mesh size for fishermen targeting megrim off north-west Donegal. This proposal will be subject to negotiations in the first half of next year and is subject to co-decision of the Council and Parliament and is not under discussion at the December Council.

This year, the TAC and quota and fishing effort proposals from the EU Commission for 2011 are due to be negotiated at the Council scheduled for 13 and 14 December. I plan to attend the Council, as will Minister of State Sean Connick who will have the lead role in conducting these negotiations. The process of preparing for the Council is already underway. The European Commission published its proposal for the 2011 fisheries on 10 November. The proposal is currently the subject of detailed and protracted discussions which will continue over the coming fortnight at EU level with the Commission and other Member States and here at home with industry representatives and other stakeholders.

The Commission proposal sets out reductions to the TACs for many of the fish stocks of economic importance to our fleet and also envisages other measures which will adversely impact on our fishing industry, such as the rearrangement of TAC areas for prawn (or nephrops) stocks in the north Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and the Aran grounds and a proposed regime to cap for the first time fishing effort for the whitefish fleet in the Celtic Sea off the southeast coast.

The Commission is proposing cuts of 50% to the TACs of cod stocks in areas VIa and VIIa, with a view to closing these cod fisheries in 2012. It is also proposing a cut of 25% in fishing effort in the whitefish and prawn fisheries in these areas for 2011, on top of similar cuts implemented over the last two years. It should be noted that the effort cuts would not be applied to vessels using fishing gear that avoids catches of cod.

In addition, the Commission has proposed introducing a separate effort management regime in part of the Celtic Sea, in areas VII f and g. This regime would see a ceiling set on the amount of whitefish effort (days at sea) that a Member State's fleet could exert in these areas during 2011. At present, the ceiling would be set at 90% of Ireland's (and other Member States') effort levels in this fishery in 2007.

Regarding the Commission's TAC & Quota proposal, I am concerned with the level of cuts proposed for cod in VIa and VIIa, the reductions proposed for other fish stocks, and the other measures that have been proposed, as well as their socio-economic impact on fishermen and fishing communities. I am working closely with my Department, with fishing industry representatives and with the Marine Institute and BIM to get a full understanding of the implications of the proposal and the industry's priorities. However, I can assure fishermen that Minister Connick and I am actively engaged, as are my officials, in delivering the best possible deal for Ireland taking into account scientific advice.

Industrial Development

John Perry

Question:

158 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, in the context of the Government’s recent announcement that it is to provide an additional €3 million to 34 city and county enterprise boards in order to generate 450 jobs, if he will indicate the person who will determine the amount allocated to each board; the number of applications for financial assistance each board has at present; if all the funding is to be used for grant assistance to companies or if part of it will be used for staff salaries and other running costs; the number of companies that received grant assistance over the past three years that are still in business; the number of enterprise board companies that have grown sufficiently to graduate to Enterprise Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45684/10]

The Capital Allocation for the CEBs in 2010 is almost €15m. I have recently secured an additional Capital allocation of €3.3m for the CEBs, which brings their total 2010 Capital allocation to €18.294m. This allocation represents a strong State investment in the micro-enterprise sector notwithstanding the significant pressure on Public finances. CEBs are prioritising and managing all available funding in a targeted manner in order to maximise entrepreneurial development at local level.

Prior to the distribution of this additional money, all CEBs were asked by the CEB Central Coordination Unit based in Enterprise Ireland, to indicate what amount of extra capital they could utilise before year end this year and the amount of job numbers they would associate with this extra funding. They provided gross figures based on their expectation of what projects and activities could be advanced this year. Identifying and approving projects, having the relevant project promoters progress their business plans and meet the agreed eligibility criteria in order to drawdown the funding, and physically paying out these additional grants within the financial year, all represented considerable challenges for the individual CEBs. The additional €3.3m was then distributed in accordance with the responses received from individual CEBs.

I would stress that not all CEBs would have pipeline projects capable of drawing down funding before end-2010 and as a result not all CEBs sought additional funding from the €3.3m available. It should also be noted that all CEB administrative costs are met from their Current Allocation and not their Capital Allocation. Capital funding is utilised by the CEBs to directly support the micro-enterprise sector in the form of both grants to eligible micro-enterprises and through the provision of training and mentoring programmes.

There is in existence a significant level of co-operation and complementarity between EI and the network of CEBs. EI is responsible for supporting the development of Irish companies with ambitions to grow in world markets. Many of its client companies are small to medium in size. The focus of the CEBs is to develop the micro-enterprise sector and to promote entrepreneurship at local level and to assist individual businesses achieve growth in order to transfer to the EI portfolio where appropriate.

In 2009, the most recent year for which annual CEB statistics are available, 1,120 eligible micro-enterprise projects were approved for assistance and 945 drew-down grants. I would expect a similar performance in 2010. I am advised that in 2009 21 CEB clients transferred to EI, whilst more than 100 potential entrepreneurs transferred to CEBs after completing EI development programmes. To date in 2010, 7 CEB clients have transferred to EI.

As my Department has no direct role in the assessment or approval of grant applications, I do not have final information on the number of applications for financial assistance that each Board has at present. Within the timescale, the CEBs have been able to provide a partial response indicating that at least 217 applications are currently on hand relating to the €3.3m additional Capital allocation, and of the companies that have received grant assistance over the past 3 years (2007-2010) at least 2,050 are still in business. I have asked for the remainder of the information to be compiled by the CEBs Central Coordination Unit within Enterprise Ireland, and sent directly to the Deputy.

Grocery Industry

Sean Sherlock

Question:

159 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if a person (details supplied) has now completed their report on a voluntary code of conduct in the grocery goods sector; when this report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45178/10]

The person concerned was appointed to facilitate discussions with stakeholders in relation to the drawing up of a Voluntary Code of Practice for the Grocery Goods Sector. The person concerned is currently continuing his engagement with the relevant stakeholders in relation to the development of a Voluntary Code and I expect to receive his report in the coming weeks. The engagement of the person concerned followed on from the commitment in the Renewed Programme for Government" to "implement a Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector to develop a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers" and "to review progress of the Code and if necessary to put in place a mandatory code".

The Government intends to give effect to this commitment by including a specific provision in the legislation, currently being prepared to merge the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority, which will allow for the introduction of a statutory Code of Conduct in the grocery goods sector. It is expected that this legislation will be published in 2011.

The Government recognises the importance of ensuring that there is a fair balance in the relationships between the various players in the grocery goods sector, particularly given the importance of this sector to the national economy. The introduction of a Code, as provided for in the Renewed Programme for Government, is intended to achieve such a balance taking into account the interests of all stakeholders including the interests of the consumer and the need to ensure that there is no impediment to the passing-on of lower prices to consumers.

Redundancy Payments

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

160 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when a statutory redundancy payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45688/10]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that this claim has very recently been authorised for payment on behalf of the individual concerned. The individual should expect to receive payment of the redundancy entitlement due very shortly.

Industrial Development

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the action he has taken or proposes to take to stimulate the economy with particular reference to small and medium sized enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45736/10]

The National Recovery Plan, which was published by the Government on 24th November, provides a blueprint for Ireland's return to sustainable economic growth. The Plan builds on previous Government initiatives such asBuilding Ireland’s Smart Economy and the recent Strategy for Trade, Tourism and Investment . It identifies the areas of activity which will provide increased employment opportunities as Ireland’s economic recovery takes place.

The Plan sets out a range of specific actions and supports designed to improve competitiveness across all sectors of the economy, including the SME sector. These include measures to cut costs to business, the removal of barriers to employment creation, and a range of sector-specific actions to increase exports and domestic demand.

Capital funding under the National Recovery Plan is being targeted to ensure that it is employment-focused. In this regard, funding for enterprise-support programmes operated by my Department's agencies has been given a priority. Enterprise Ireland will continue to invest in high potential start-ups and help companies to increase their exports to new and existing markets. Enterprise Ireland and the County and City Enterprise Boards will continue to work directly with SMEs to improve their performance, productivity and competitiveness. Support will also be provided to firms through Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture Capital programme and through the €500 million Innovation Fund. The Business Expansion Scheme for investment in companies will be overhauled and improved.

In order to encourage small business development, the potential for providing access to vacant or under-utilised public property for entrepreneurs or business start-ups to use as Incubation Centres will be investigated. There will be direct job creation during the delivery phase of public infrastructural investment. In this context, it is envisaged that the National Retrofit Programme will give rise to a considerable level of jobs in the construction sector on a nationwide basis. This will have a positive impact on small and medium sized enterprises. To further assist cash-flow for SMEs, the 15 day payment rule to suppliers will be extended beyond central Government Departments to the wider public sector.

The measures outlined above, along with other strategies outlined in the Recovery Plan, will build on the progress already made by the Government and will further improve cost competitiveness for all businesses, including SMEs, in the years ahead.

Job Creation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of new jobs created on a weekly basis in each of the past three years and to date in 2010; the number of jobs lost in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45737/10]

Figures in respect of the number of jobs created or lost in firms assisted by the industrial development agencies, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development, are compiled annually in the Forfás Annual Employment Survey. As the information is compiled on an annualised basis, the figures in respect of 2010 will not be available until 2011. Details of the number of jobs created and lost on an annual basis over the last three years are set out in the following tabular statement.

My Department does not collect or retain information on the number of jobs that have been created or lost in County and City Enterprise Board assisted companies. However statistical information in relation to details of jobs existing in companies assisted by the County and City Enterprise Boards is collated annually and is set out in the following tabular statement for the last three years. Figures in respect of 2010 will be available in early 2011.

Year

2007

2008

2009

Full Time Job Gains in Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development assisted companies

26,711

23,691

12,329

Year

2007

2008

2009

Full Time Job Losses in Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Shannon Development assisted companies

24,258

30,642

45,593

Number of jobs existing in CEB-supported companies Based on CEB Annual Employment Survey

2007

2008

2009

Net Jobs Existing in CEBs

34,545.5

33,811.0

30,726.5

Industrial Development

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he has had discussions with the manufacturing service sectors with a view to identifying and resolving obstacles to economic progress; the action taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45738/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he is satisfied that current policy pursued by him is adequate to meet current job creation requests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45740/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will set out the major obstacles to job creation at present; his plans to address the issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45743/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his proposals to assist employers currently in difficulty arising from the economic situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45744/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163, 165, 168 and 169 together.

The role of my Department is to ensure that we have the right policies in place that will support and grow our enterprise base in order to facilitate both job creation and job retention.

I engage with representatives from across the enterprise base in a range of ways and on an on-going basis. In addition, my officials meet regularly with representatives from the enterprise development agencies, such as Enterprise Ireland, who as a matter of course have very close engagement with all sectors, including manufacturing companies on an individual and group basis.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, my Department, through Enterprise Ireland, facilitated job retention through the Employment Subsidy Scheme and supported vulnerable companies through the particularly challenging economic circumstances with the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund.

TheNational Recovery Plan 2011-2014, published on 24 November 2010, is a strategy for economic recovery with the aim of restoring stability to the public finances, improving Ireland’s cost competitiveness, stimulating enterprise growth and job creation. There are two pillars to the strategy for competitiveness, growth and employment a) remove potential structural impediments to competitiveness, growth and employment creation and b) pursue appropriate sectoral policies to encourage export growth and recovery of domestic demand.

The Plan sets out a range of specific actions and supports designed to:

Spur further improvements in competitiveness across all sectors of the economy including measures to cut input costs to business; in energy, waste, transport, professional fees, property and labour.

Foster export growth and a recovery of domestic demand.

Provide investment of €2.2 billion in capital over the four years of the Plan for the Enterprise Agencies, which will enable them to create jobs across the economy, through:

supporting indigenous firms to increase exports,

winning new foreign investment, and

targeting and supporting Research, Development and innovation in companies, to boost productivity, exports, growth and jobs.

Key among the measures outlined in the Recovery Plan are proposals to remove barriers to employment, specifically a reduction in the minimum wage, reform of the social welfare system to incentivise work and eliminate unemployment traps as well as the re-invigoration of existing activation policies to ensure that the unemployed can make a swift return to work. These measures together with other actions already underway to restore fiscal stability, enhance access to credit, prioritise capital investment and to improve international competitiveness will impact positively across all sectors of the economy.

The State Development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, and the County and City Enterprise Boards are continuing to drive and promote enterprise development, and consequently employment creation in our economy.

There are a wide range of other initiatives and actions already underway to assist economic recovery. Forfás recently published a report“Making it Happen — Growing Enterprise for Ireland” which sets out a series of recommendations that can help to improve the competitiveness of the economy and facilitate enterprise growth and job creation. The report includes 40 high level recommendations, supplemented by a number of sector-specific recommendations, aimed at addressing barriers to growth and accelerating potential in thirteen different sectors, such as ICT, health care Life Sciences, International Financial Services, Agri Food, Green Technologies and Education Services.

In September last, the Taoiseach launched the five-year integrated Government plan for trade, tourism and investment, This has set a number of ambitious targets to be achieved by 2015 including the generation of 300,000 jobs between direct and spin off employment. The overall objective of the strategy and its action plan is to marshal and coordinate the resources of the State in a way that best supports firms, of all sizes, in all parts of the country, which are trying to trade and grow their business overseas. The strategy presents a suite of actions for building on existing strengths and driving trade relations in existing as well as new and emerging economies.

Departmental Programmes

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the role he expects to play to promote economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45739/10]

As Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, I will continue working with my Government colleagues to promote and achieve economic recovery. The National Recovery Plan, which was published on 24 November, provides a blueprint for a return to sustainable economic growth and sets out the path the Government intends to follow to achieve this objective.

The Plan outlines the measures that will be taken to restore order to the public finances and specifies the actions that will be taken to improve competitiveness and accelerate growth in key sectors of the economy.

Some of the elements of the Plan that I intend to focus on, in particular, include:

Reducing costs for business, particularly in relation to labour costs and professional services.

Reducing the regulatory burden on business.

Investing in high potential start-up companies and helping firms to increase their exports to new and existing markets through supports from Enterprise Ireland.

Supporting firms through Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture programme and through the €500 million Innovation Fund. The Business Expansion Fund for investment in companies will also be overhauled and improved.

Investing in research and development and ensuring a focus on the commercialisation of research outputs to ensure a solid return on investment.

Continuing to attract foreign direct investment through the work of IDA Ireland.

Providing supports for SMEs, through Enterprise Ireland and the County and City Enterprise Boards.

The National Recovery Plan also sets out sector-specific measures which will contribute to economic growth, and builds on a number of existing strategies which will support employment. These include the Strategy for Trade, Tourism and Investment, which is being overseen by my Department and envisages the creation of up to 300,000 direct and indirect jobs over the period to 2015.

The various actions set out in the National Recovery Plan will have a positive impact on economic recovery and contribute to the creation of high-quality sustainable jobs.

Question No. 165 answered with Question No. 163.

Economic Competitiveness

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the extent to which he monitors the costs to industry here as compared to other jurisdictions; the action he has taken on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45741/10]

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) monitors costs and other competitiveness issues through its suite of reports, including its annual "Competitiveness Report — Benchmarking Ireland's Performance" and regular reports on "Costs of Doing Business in Ireland". These reports compare Ireland's competitiveness with many of its closest trading partners and competitors. The NCC is an independent body, but the Secretariat is provided by Forfás, which is under the remit of my Department.

The 2010 Competitiveness Report found that, since January 2008, Ireland has regained some of the competitiveness it had lost in recent years, as domestic inflation remained below that of our main trading partners and as the Euro weakened, helping exports.

The most recent report on "Costs of Doing Business in Ireland", published in July this year, analysed Ireland's relative cost competitiveness across four key business inputs — labour, property, utilities and business services. It also looked at the broader cost environment that indirectly impacts on the cost of doing business here. The report highlighted tangible improvements in the competitiveness of unit labour costs, and significant falls in commercial property costs and industrial electricity costs.

While there has been a welcome improvement in Ireland's cost competitiveness, there is still room for improvement. The National Recovery Plan, which was published on 24th November, provides a blueprint for a return to sustainable economic growth and includes actions which the Government will take to further reduce costs for business across the economy. The Plan sets out specific measures which will be taken to cut costs in relation to labour, energy, property rental, professional fees and other areas.

Although comparing the costs of doing business is an important and useful exercise, it should be borne in mind that cost competitiveness is only one aspect of overall competitiveness. The availability of skilled labour, good quality infrastructure and a wide variety of other factors will ultimately determine the ability of a particular country to compete successfully in world markets. The National Recovery Plan takes cognisance of these factors by prioritising the areas which will lead to sustainable economic growth and competitiveness for Ireland.

Job Creation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans for job creation over the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45742/10]

The National Recovery Plan, which was published by the Government on 24th November, provides a blueprint for Ireland's return to sustainable economic growth. The Plan builds on previous Government initiatives such asBuilding Ireland’s Smart Economy and the recent strategy for Trade, Tourism and Investment — Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy. It identifies the areas of activity which will provide increased employment opportunities as Ireland’s economic recovery takes place.

The role of Government is to create the conditions where enterprise can flourish and jobs can be created. The National Recovery Plan sets out how the Government intends to do this over the next four years.

In particular:

The Government will tackle costs for business in relation to energy, waste, property rental, professional fees, and other areas. This will help to improve the competitive situation of enterprises.

The reduction in the National Minimum Wage and the review of the Registered Employment Agreements and Employment Regulation Orders will also improve competitiveness and help bring labour costs more in line with other EU countries.

The Government will improve cash-flow for businesses by extending the existing 15-day payment rule for central Government Departments to the wider public sector.

Capital funding under the National Recovery Plan is being targeted to ensure that it is employment-focused. In this regard, funding for enterprise-support programmes operated by my Department's agencies has been given a priority. Enterprise Ireland will continue to invest in high potential start-ups and help companies to increase their exports to new and existing markets.

Support will also be provided to firms through Enterprise Ireland's Seed and Venture programme and through the €500 million Innovation Fund. The Business Expansion Fund for investment in companies will be overhauled and improved.

There will be direct job creation during the delivery phase of public infrastructural investment. In this context, it is envisaged that the National Retrofit Programme will give rise to a considerable level of jobs in the construction sector on a nationwide basis.

Investment in research and development will also continue to be strongly supported and there will be a focus on the commercialisation of research outputs to ensure a solid return on investment.

By continuing to invest strongly in education, we will ensure that we have the skills base necessary to grow the economy, improve productivity and continue to attract foreign investment.

Labour market activation measures set out in the Plan will also ensure that those who do not have a job at present remain close to the labour market and continue to receive relevant training and upskilling.

The Government will remove disincentives to taking up employment by reviewing the social welfare system. For employers, the PRSI Exemption Scheme is being extended to the end of 2011.

We will, of course, maintain our 12.5% Corporate Tax rate, which has been a fundamental pillar of our industrial policy for decades.

These are just some of the measures set out in the Plan which will have a positive impact on job-creation. The Plan also includes specific sectoral measures which will further contribute to employment.

Overall, the Plan will support the achievement of the targets in the Government's integrated strategy for Trade, Tourism and Investment, which envisages the creation of up to 300,000 direct and indirect jobs over the period to 2015.

While the Plan will require a whole-of-Government approach to achieve its objectives, my Department and its enterprise development agencies will play a key role in implementing and facilitating many of its measures.

Questions Nos. 168 and 169 answered with Question No. 163.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of jobs created in the manufacturing sector in each of the past four years to date in 2010; the job losses in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45745/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

171 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of jobs created in the service sectors in each of the past four years and to date in 2010; the number of losses in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45746/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

172 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of jobs created in County Kildare in both manufacturing and services sectors in each of the past four years and to date in 2010; the numbers in each sector lost in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45747/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170, 171 and 172 together.

The Small Enterprise and Development agencies figures for job gains and losses are compiled annually in the Forfás Annual Employment Survey, the most up to date of which details employment figures up to 2009. The figures are in respect of numbers of jobs gained and lost in firms assisted by IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development, which come under the aegis of my Department. As the information is compiled on an annualised basis, the figures in respect of 2010 will not be available until 2011.

Details of the agency figures for job gains and losses in the manufacturing and services sectors in the country as whole and more specifically in Co. Kildare are set out in the tabular statements accompanying this reply. The data in the tables in respect of services relates to the services sectors supported by the enterprise agencies.

Jobs Gains in Enterprise Agency-supported Companies in Ireland

Job Gains

2006

2007

2008

2009

Manufacturing

14,915

12,895

10,138

5,992

Services

11,631

12,322

11,510

5,396

Job Losses in Enterprise Agency-supported Companies in Ireland

Job Losses

2006

2007

2008

2009

Manufacturing

14,713

15,465

20,695

30,487

Services

5,848

7,626

7,721

12,228

Job Gains in Enterprise Agency-supported Companies in Co. Kildare

Job Gains

2006

2007

2008

2009

Manufacturing

712

471

204

230

Services

158

62

200

105

Job Losses in Enterprise Agency-supported Companies in Co. Kildare

Job Losses

2006

2007

2008

2009

Manufacturing

675

1,207

1,116

1,785

Services

32

99

150

223