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 11, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 12 to 62, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 63 to 72, inclusive, answered orally.

Banks Recapitalisation

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

73 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the situation regarding deposits in the banking system here in the aftermath of the €35 billion made available under the EU/International Monetary Fund deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1335/11]

It has been clear for some time that the banks were facing serious challenges in terms of their liquidity position. Lingering concerns in the market regarding their capital position has led to negative market sentiment. The Deputy may be aware from Central Bank statistics that deposits by Irish residents in December 2009 fell from €310,657 billion to €297, 035 billion in November 2010 and deposits by non-residents fell from €228,553 billion to €172,631 billion for the same period, a fall of some €69.5 billion. The Financial Programme with the European Commission/ECB/IMF does not propose any departure from existing policy, indeed its prescription is an intensification and acceleration of the restructuring process already being undertaken by the Irish banks. A key objective is to ensure that the size of the domestic banking system is proportionate to the size of the economy and is appropriately aligned with the funding capacity of the banks overall, taking into account stable sources of deposit and wholesale funding.

The Deputy will be aware that the Central Bank is requiring the banks to meet a Core Tier 1 capital ratio of 12%.

In addition, under the ELG Scheme, deposit balances continue to be guaranteed. Since the signing of the agreement with the European Commission/ECB/IMF in December 2010, significant work is underway by the relevant authorities to complete the Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR) and the Prudential Liquidity Assessment Plan (PLAR), these being two important components of the agreement.

The completion of these projects will bring additional confidence to the Irish Banking system.

Official Engagements

Enda Kenny

Question:

74 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on his recent meeting in Dublin with the European Commissioner, Olli Rehn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43748/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

290 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a statement on his meeting in Dublin on 9 November 2010 with EU Commissioner, Ollie Rehn [45170/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 290 together.

It is now over two months since the meeting to which the Deputies refer took place and there have been very substantial developments during that period. However, the purpose of Commissioner Rehn's visit at the start of November was to gather information and exchange views. To that end, the Commissioner not only met with myself, but also met with Opposition parties, as well as representatives from both employer and union groups.

In terms of my own meeting with Commissioner Rehn, the meeting was a continuation of the very positive relationship that we have. Commissioner Rehn and I discussed the Government's economic growth strategy, fiscal consolidation plans and matters relating to banking and financial market developments. In particular, I briefed the Commissioner on the development of the Government's four-year National Recovery Plan and the manner in which the upcoming Budget 2011 would fit into that multi-annual strategy. In that regard, we were in agreement on the need for a comprehensive plan to return sustainability to the public finances. In particular, Commissioner Rehn agreed that it was essential that the budgetary strategy was front-loaded and that a €6 billion adjustment was the appropriate target for Budget 2011.

As the Deputies are aware, the Government subsequently published the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, which was welcomed by the European Commission. The Plan sets out the measures that will be taken with a view to bringing the deficit back below 3 per cent of GDP by 2014. Budget 2011 represents the first step in the implementation of that programme and, taking account of the €6 billion adjustment package, projects a General Government deficit of 9.4 per cent of GDP by the end of this year. In this regard, it is positive to note that the end of year figures that my Department reported on last week, showed the public finances being marginally better than had been planned for in 2010.

The National Recovery Plan also identifies the areas of economic activity which will provide growth and employment in the recovery and specifies the reforms the Government will implement to accelerate growth in key sectors of the economy and these matters were also discussed when I met the Commissioner.

In the context of the agreed EU/IMF programme of external assistance, the various policy measures that have been set out as requiring action draw on the suite of measures that the Government set out in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 when it was published in November 2010.

Price Inflation

Bernard Allen

Question:

75 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Finance if he will revise his estimate of inflation here in 2011 in view of the higher than expected inflation in euro zone countries in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1307/11]

My Department regularly updates its estimates for inflation as price developments occur and will next publish a revised estimate in the context of the Stability Programme Update which will be submitted to the European Commission in April of 2011. I would like to point out that Ireland is in a unique position in the European Union in that prices are continuing to fall — down 0.8% on a Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) basis in November 2010 — while inflation across all other European Member States is positive.

My Department is forecasting an increase in consumer prices this year on foot of base effects, commodity price movements and the modest indirect tax measures being implemented as part of the budget. However, given muted domestic demand and considerable spare capacity in the economy, price increases are likely to be fairly modest — the HICP is projected to increase by 0.7% this year.

I note that preliminary estimates of eurozone inflation for December were somewhat higher than expected, with an increase of 2.2% compared to an increase of 1.9% in October and November. However a considerable portion of this headline inflation relates to energy price increases while core inflation has remained steady at about 1%. Of course, wholesale energy price increases impact on Ireland as they do on the rest of Europe and my Department monitors energy price developments closely and will make amendments to its forecasts as appropriate.

What we should focus on, however, is the positive impact that the inflation differential between ourselves and our main trading partners is having on Ireland's competitive position. As set out in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, exports will be the key driver of economic growth over this period. Accordingly, this improvement in price competitiveness will provide crucial support to sustained economic recovery.

National Asset Management Agency

John Deasy

Question:

76 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the discussions he has had with the National Assets Management Agency to encourage them to sell property here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1310/11]

NAMA has its own Board and has a commercial remit to manage its portfolio of acquired loans and property. To date NAMA, has only acquired loans not properties. It is a matter for the Board of NAMA to manage and deal with acquired properties in a commercial fashion and on a case by case basis with the intention of generating the best achievable financial return for the State. I am informed by NAMA that through its debtor management process it has already given permission for the sale of properties to the value of €2bn where NAMA had an interest of €700m in these properties. Some 90% by value of those permissions relate to property in the UK.

Section 55 of the NAMA Act 2009 requires NAMA to make a quarterly report to the Minister for Finance within 3 months of the end of the quarter to which the report refers and these reports will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The quarterly report includes, among other things, information on the number of loans being foreclosed or otherwise enforced and the amount of money recovered by sale of property. The quarterly report for the third quarter has been submitted to me and I expect to lay it before both Houses shortly.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

77 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the total debt guaranteed under the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme; the amount of this debt that is subordinated and the amount that is senior; the total amount unguaranteed senior bond debt in each of the covered institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1413/11]

Jack Wall

Question:

84 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the total senior, unsecured and unguaranteed bonds issued by the credit institutions into which capital injections from the Exchequer have been necessary since September 2008, or are likely to be necessary in 2011, to meet new capital requirements; the total subordinated bonds issued by these institutions; if he will provide a breakdown of each category by institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1385/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 84 together.

As Minister for Finance, it would not be appropriate for me to speculate on future capital injections for 2011, as such my reply is based on those institutions covered by the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee (ELG) Scheme.

The Central Bank has advised me that as at the end of November 2010, the total debt guaranteed under the ELG is €124 billion. Subordinated debt is not covered under the ELG. Total subordinated debt in issue is €10.2 billion as at 7th January 2011.

The total (secured and unsecured) amount unguaranteed senior bond debt in the covered institutions is €48.9 billion.

Due to considerations relating to commercial and market sensitivity and confidentiality consideration to which the Central Bank is subject in relation to the disclosure of regulatory information, it is not possible to provide a breakdown of the information by individual institutions other than in relation to subordinated debt in each of the covered institutions which is set out in the table below.

Bank

€m

AIB

4,775

Anglo

*768

BoI

2,808

EBS

213

ILP

1,467

INBS

171

Total

10,202

*Included in the total figure of €0.768bn of subordinated debt is the sum of €0.348bn which relates to 300,000 Non-Cumulative Preference Shares. The inclusion of these preference shares in the bank's subordinated debt is required by accounting rules notwithstanding that they are now owned by the Minister as they remain technically a debt due to the shareholder on a winding up, albeit one ranking after all other debtors.

Banks Recapitalisation

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

78 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of capital that has been pumped into the Irish banking system since 30 September 2008; the amount of further capital he envisages pumping into the banking system during the first three months of 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1367/11]

Following is the information requested by the Deputy.

Capitalisation of Credit Institutions

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Value of Promissory Notes Issued

Capital Provided to 31 December 2010

Additional CT1 required by Central Bank

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4.000

25.28

29.280

Allied Irish Banks

3.700

3.50

7.200

6.065

Bank of Ireland

1.700

1.80

3.500

2.199

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.100

5.30

5.400

EBS Building Society

0.625

0.25

0.875

0.438

Total

10.100

5.30

30.80

46.300

8.700

*Cash received on cancellation of Warrants.

The table above sets out the amount of capital injected by the State into the Irish Banking System to date. The Central Bank has set out the further capital that will be required by AIB, BOI and EBS in order for them to meet a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011 as agreed in the Programme for Financial Support with the IMF, EU and the ECB.

The State remains committed to meeting this capital requirement to the extent that it cannot be met from other sources.

Banking Charges

Liz McManus

Question:

79 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recent increases in bank fees for basic current account services at Bank of Ireland, a bank in receipt of significant State support; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, by their nature, this new charging regime will impact most severely on those least able to pay; the steps that have been taken to date to introduce basic bank accounts as foreseen in the original bank recapitalisation agreement of 21 December 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1374/11]

I am disappointed that the bank is increasing charges for its current account customers but can understand why they are doing so. The Government operates an arm's length relationship with the banks in which the State has a shareholding and the commercial decisions on how best to operate the bank remain a matter for management and the board. I have no role in approving or setting bank charges. This responsibility lies with the Central Bank. Under the Consumer Credit Act 1995, banks must make a submission to the Central Bank if they wish to introduce or increase charges in respect of a service.

Where a bank has exempted customers who meet certain criteria from charges, and subsequently change the criteria, there is no requirement for any subsequent notification to, or approval by, the Central Bank provided the charges are within the permitted limits. I would also advise the Deputy that the National Consumer Agency's website www.itsyourmoney.ie provides a cost comparison table on the main current accounts provided by individual firms which includes details of how to qualify for free account maintenance and transactions.

Any proposed changes to charges or qualifying criteria must be notified to customers in advance. In the case of current accounts, the minimum notice period is two months and must be in accordance with the terms and conditions of the account.

Regarding the issue of basic bank accounts, as part of the restructuring plan process currently underway with the European Commission, it has been proposed that the domestic banking sector will be required to support and promote the availability of a basic bank account. This is to be done in the context of the implementation of the Government's strategy on financial inclusion in the State.

Work is underway on a review of the options available to achieve greater financial inclusion — including the introduction of basic bank accounts by end-2011. The objective of the review, which is being undertaken by the Social Finance Foundation on my behalf, is to identify recommended actions to achieve a substantial reduction in financial exclusion over a 3-5 year period.

The preparation of the review is overseen by a Steering Group comprised of key stakeholders and chaired by my Department. I expect to receive a draft report setting out the recommendations from the review sometime in the first quarter of this year. I intend to publish this review for consultation purposes.

Public Sector Remuneration

Sean Sherlock

Question:

80 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance his proposals for a review of senior executive pay and commercial semi-State bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1386/11]

My position on higher pay in the public sector was set out in the Budget speech on 7 December last in which I indicated that the Government believes there should be a maximum salary rate of €250,000 in the public sector. Only a few office holder posts have salaries above this level at present with further posts in the State Agencies. While there are issues about the contractual position of incumbent post holders, it is my view that the objective of the maximum salary can be achieved within a reasonable timeframe.

Banks Recapitalisation

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

81 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm if he injected capital of €6.4 billion and €2.7 billion into Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide respectively in the run up to end 2010; if he will further confirm the coupon rate on this latest tranche of promissory notes; if he will further confirm the blended interest rate on all outstanding promissory notes; if he will further confirm the total outstanding nominal amount of promissory notes in issue; if he will further confirm the expected cumulative cost of interest on these promissory notes over the course of their lifespan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1383/11]

Joan Burton

Question:

82 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm if he injected capital of €6.4 billion and €2.7 billion into Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide respectively in the run up to end 2010; if he will further confirm the coupon rate on this latest tranche of promissory notes; if he will further confirm the blended interest rate on all outstanding promissory notes; if he will further confirm the total outstanding nominal amount of promissory notes in issue; if he will further confirm the expected cumulative cost of interest on these promissory notes over the course of their lifespan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1403/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 82 together.

On 31 December 2010 further capital of €6.42 billion was provided to Anglo Irish Bank and €2.7 billion to Irish Nationwide Building Society. The consideration for the further capital was provided through a final increase in the Promissory Notes in each institution.

As set out in the technical note published on my Department's website on 4 November last — which accompanied the publication of the information note on the economic and budgetary outlook for the period 2011 to 2014 — the terms of the Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) Promissory Notes have now been adjusted to provide that no interest will be chargeable in calendar years 2011 and 2012.

The coupon on the Anglo Irish Bank and INBS Promissory Notes is now 0% for the two years to 31 December 2012. A higher rate of interest will be payable from the beginning of 2013 onwards, so that the cumulative amount of interest paid over the life of these Promissory Notes will remain at an average rate sufficient to allow the Promissory Notes to be recorded in the institutions' balance sheets at face value, notwithstanding the zero rate of interest charged in 2011 and 2012. The interest rate which will apply on the final tranche of the Anglo Irish Bank and INBS Promissory Notes from 1 January 2013 is 11.76% and is based on the long term Government bond yield appropriate to when the amounts will be paid. If interest was spread evenly over the life of the final tranche of the Promissory Notes, rather than having a two year 0% coupon period, the coupon would have been 8.6%.

The blended coupon on all of the tranches of both the Anglo Irish Bank and INBS promissory notes together is 0% in both 2011 and 2012 increasing to 8.2% thereafter.

The Promissory Note structure was designed to achieve the most efficient financing outcome for the Exchequer and to spread the repayments over an extended period of years. The final total of Promissory Notes in issue is €30.85 billion (inclusive of EBS). Under the terms of the Notes, 10% of the amount outstanding at end 2010 will be paid each year i.e. €3.085 billion per year. The amount of interest accruing on the Anglo Irish Bank and INBS Promissory Notes will be nil in 2011 and 2012, increasing to €1.8 billion in 2013. The interest charge declines annually thereafter as the balance is repaid. As a result of the extended duration i.e. towards 20 years, the total interest is considerable and is estimated at €17 billion over the life of the Promissory Notes. Discounting these interest cash flows using a government bond yield curve from 22 December 2010 for all tranches the discounted value of the interest is €9.5 billion.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Alan Shatter

Question:

83 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance the steps, if any, he proposes taking to reduce the amount of smuggling of cigarettes and other tobacco products into the State and to ensure that those found guilty of such offence are properly punished; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the average fine for such smuggling in 2010 is less than €600 and if he regards this as appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42925/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax and for tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products, that Revenue employs a multifaceted strategy to deal with this problem. It includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, ongoing review of operational policies, development of analytics and deployment of detection technologies, optimum deployment of resources at point of importation and internally to intercept the contraband product and to prosecute those involved. Revenue enforcement officers are deployed at all key ports and airports. Staff deployed at these locations are often augmented by additional staff from other areas when specific operations are organised. Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of risk analysis, profiling, intelligence, and the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages.

Revenue enforcement officers also target this illicit trade at the post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. Revenue and An Garda Síochána also carry out regular multi-agency operations, particularly in relation to large maritime importations and in checks at inland markets.

Revenue's enforcement approach in the fight against the illicit tobacco trade is under continuous review. For example, in July of last year Revenue launched a nationwide tobacco operation, which concentrated additional Revenue resources at ports, airports and at various retail points for the purpose of identifying illicit tobacco products. This resulted in 561 seizures totalling 13.7m cigarettes and 195 kgs tobacco in the course of the two-week period of the operation. Two subsequent 3-day operations resulted in the seizure of over 1,760,000 cigarettes and 175 kgs of tobacco. Further such intensive operations are planned, to supplement the normal ongoing level of detection and enforcement activities.

The Revenue Commissioners have also established a high level internal group, chaired at Commissioner level to examine the risks related to tobacco excise, and to monitor and optimise performance in relation to detection of counterfeit and contraband tobacco products. This group has promoted a number of initiatives aimed at counteracting the illicit trade in tobacco. These include improved profiling of passengers and freight to identify tobacco smugglers, the recent establishment of a tobacco hotline, co-ordinating national blitz style operations, evaluation and acquisition of scanning and other detection technologies and learning from best practice internationally.

This strategy has resulted in the seizure of a total of 178.3m cigarettes with a retail value of approx. €75.3m, and 3,369 kilos of tobacco with a retail value of approx €1.2m, during the period January to December 2010.

With regard to the penalties available for prosecution of tobacco smuggling related offences, the penalty on summary conviction for evasion of duties is €5,000, and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months. The penalty on indictment is up to €126,970 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or, where the value of the product concerned is greater than €250,000, up to three times the value of the products. These penalties are considered adequate. Of course, as the Deputy is aware, the precise penalty imposed on conviction in each individual case is solely a matter for the Courts and I do not propose to make any comment in that regard.

There were 94 convictions secured in the Courts for cigarette smuggling in 2010. The fines imposed amounted to €49,630 and, in addition, 13 custodial sentences and 2 community service orders were imposed. The average fine for cigarette smuggling offences in 2010 was €527.

A further 40 convictions were secured for illegal selling of unstamped tobacco products with total fines of €99,250, and 6 custodial sentences and 2 community service orders imposed. The average fine for cigarette selling offences in 2010 is €2,500.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 77.

Tax Code

Simon Coveney

Question:

85 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider removing VAT and VRT on the purchase of new taxi vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42693/10]

There are no plans to remove VAT and VRT on the purchase of new taxi vehicles.

Fiscal Policy

Michael Noonan

Question:

86 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance his understanding of the commitment in the EU/International Monetary Fund programme of financial support for Ireland that any additional unplanned revenue must be allocated to debt reduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1304/11]

Under the terms of the programme of financial support which we have agreed with our European partners and the IMF, there is a recommendation that we should introduce a fiscal rule such that any additional unplanned revenues which arise will be allocated to deficit and debt reduction. In Budget 2010, published in December 2009, it was outlined that as part of the ongoing reform of the budgetary process, consideration would be given to the use of surplus once-off revenues which arise in future years to reduce the deficit and thereby contribute to reducing the debt burden. In practical terms, this means that any bonus or surplus revenues generated above what was forecast should not be used to allow expenditure to increase above the level budgeted for while still recording a deficit in line with that originally projected. Instead, they should be used to reduce the deficit and hence the debt burden.

Given the large deficit that currently exists in the public finances and the sharp increase in the level of national debt in recent years which has required an ever increasing share of tax revenues to be used to service the national debt, this is a sensible course of action and one that the Government was examining in any event, as outlined in Budget 2010. Such an approach assists in the restoration of sustainability to the public finances in as short a period as is feasible.

Financial Services Regulation

Tom Hayes

Question:

87 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the number of directors of covered institutions who were directors of these institutions in December 2008; his plans to replace these directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1312/11]

Based on information supplied to me by the 6 covered institutions, 31 directors (including 3 public interest appointments made in December 2008) who were in place at end December 2008 remain in situ. It has to be accepted that a complete turnover of all of the respective appointments at the covered institutions was neither practical nor desirable. Contrary to public perception, a lot of changes at director level at the covered institutions have taken place. Of every 10 directors in place pre September 2008, 6 have departed. What the Government has sought to do is to bring certainty to the operation of the Irish financial system by making progressive changes at board level and implementing other measures such as changes in the manner that new director appointments are now made. I have said previously that it is not only a change of personnel that is required but a change of culture.

The public interest aspect of decisions taken at board level of these institutions has to have a much greater prominence. I would point out to the Deputy that section 48 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 deals with the duties of directors of relevant institutions.

Croke Park Agreement

Mary Upton

Question:

88 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the implementation of the Croke Park Public Service Agreement; the savings that have been agreed to date; the savings foreseen for 2011 as a whole under the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1395/11]

The Public Service Agreement (Croke Park Agreement) provides a sustainable framework to manage the provision and delivery of our essential public services in a period of unprecedented pressure on public resources. In this regard, the Exchequer Pay Bill will be approximately 8% less in 2010 over 2009 while the number of public servants has reduced by almost 12,000 since March 09, resulting in significant savings in the public service paybill. Further savings targets for 2011 of €310m, and a reduction in numbers to 301,000 as set out in the Budget Estimates, now form part of the allocation for each Department and Agency over the coming year. The delivery of the required savings, including payroll savings, will be monitored closely, including by reference to the implementation of the Croke Park Agreement.

The Implementation Body for the Agreement requested the various sectors in December last to revise their Action Plans to take account of the targets in the National Recovery Plan and the allocations made under Budget 2011. These revised plans are due to be submitted this week. The Implementation Body will be seeking to ensure that the plans deliver the necessary savings and efficiencies to meet the Government's requirements under the National Recovery Plan. The initial assessment of the sustainable savings made under the Agreement will be made by that Body under the review which is due to take place this Spring under the terms of the Agreement.

Banking Sector

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

89 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance his views on the future viability of Irish Life and Permanent; if he expects that the State will be required to make a capital injection into the bank during 2011 in view of the revised PCAR analysis and enhanced capital requirements; if he remains committed to the future existence of a third force in Irish banking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1399/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the Government has devoted considerable effort, over the last two years, to ensuring the future viability of Irish banks. Furthermore, the Deputy will also be aware that, in November 2010, the Central Bank of Ireland set new enhanced minimum capital requirements for Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Life and Permanent (ILP) at 10.5% Core Tier 1. Additionally, the Central Bank also stipulated that the banks are required to raise sufficient capital to achieve a capital ratio of at least 12% Core Tier 1 by specified dates. For ILP this means that they have to raise additional eligible capital of €243 million by 31 May 2011. ILP have formally confirmed that it intends to meet the additional required amount involved from its own resources.

The Central Bank has also announced that it will subject the Irish banks to a stress test under its Prudential Capital Assessment Review methodology and a Prudential Liquidity Assessment Review by end March 2011.

The Deputy will also be aware that ILP is one of two bidders remaining in the prospective sale of EBS. It would be wholly inappropriate and premature for me to speculate publicly on the possible outcome of this process.

I have indicated previously that I wish to see a strong vibrant competitive banking system in place to meet the needs of the economy and its citizens. I am disposed to considering, in this light, any proposals, consistent with EU State aid rules, which will achieve this objective whether that involves domestic or international participants or a combination of both.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Róisín Shortall

Question:

90 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the exposure by domestic credit institutions to the Central Bank and to the European Central Bank; if he is concerned that such exposure is comparable to total national income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1388/11]

I refer the Deputy to the money and banking statistics published by the Irish Central Bank on a monthly basis. The figure for borrowing from the Eurosystem relating to monetary policy operations for the domestic group of credit institutions (listed at — http://www.centralbank.ie/data/site/cmbs/Credit%20Institutions%20Resident%20in%20the%20Republic%20of%20Ireland.pdf) at the end of November stood at E97.319bn. As is the case for other Central Banks comprising part of the Eurosystem, the Central Bank of Ireland can provide other liquidity facilities to credit institutions where that is judged necessary. The ‘other assets' figure included in the Financial Statement of the Central Bank primarily relates to this lending and at end of November the ‘other assets' figure stood at E44.674bn. I do not believe that the comparison suggested by the Deputy is appropriate given, for example, the secured and fully collateralised nature of lending by the Eurosystem with appropriate haircuts applied under detailed rules set by the ECB.

As the Deputy is aware, the programme agreed with the EU/IMF provides for a recapitalisation, fundamental downsizing, restructuring and reorganisation of the banking sector. The outcome will lead to a smaller banking system more proportionate to the size of the economy, capitalised to the highest international standards with renewed access to normal market sources of funding. This will enable the Irish financial institutions to reduce their reliance on Eurosystem and Central Bank funding mechanisms and focus the banking system on strongly supporting the recovery of the economy.

National Asset Management Agency

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

91 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the number of National Asset Management Agency bonds that have been issued to date; the terms of same; the maturity of these bonds; the proportion of these NAMA bonds that are subordinated; the number of NAMA bonds that are envisaged for issue in total; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1411/11]

I have been advised that NAMA has now completed the transfer of loans from debtors with a nominal value of €71.2 billion. As consideration for these loans NAMA has issued €30.2 billion in bonds to the five participating institutions. NAMA issued 95% of this value in Senior Notes totalling €28.65 billion with a further 5% totalling €1.51 billion being issued in subordinated securities. The senior bonds mature in March 2011 and are extendible at the option of NAMA. They are Government-guaranteed Floating Rate Notes and pay interest at a rate of 6 month Euribor or 6 month GBP Libor. The subordinated bonds are callable perpetual fixed rate bonds which may be redeemed from March 2020 onwards. Interest is payable annually on the subordinated bonds if NAMA is considered to be achieving its objectives.

While the issuances to date cover almost all of the original loans to be acquired by NAMA a small number of loans that are subject to challenge as to their eligibility have yet to transfer. I am advised by NAMA that further NAMA bonds totalling €1.4 billion may issue in respect of these loans depending on the outcome of these challenges.

In addition it is intended that individual debtor exposures of €20 million or less in AIB and Bank of Ireland announced as part of the EU/IMF Programme of Support will be acquired before the end of March 2011. It is not possible as yet to estimate the amount of bonds that will be issued in respect of these loans. I will be introducing proposals to amend the legislation in the near future to allow for the transfer of these loans.

Tax Code

Joe Costello

Question:

92 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that measures to introduce a site value tax are to be included in the 2011 Finance Bill; if he envisages the launch of a consultation process in respect of the introduction of any such tax; if the measures, as implemented for 2012, will involve differential payments for differing house or site sizes, for instance for two, three and four-bedroom houses; if he intends to merge the charge on non-principal private residences into the site value tax for 2012 or at a later date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1401/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the National Recovery Plan included a proposal for a site value tax which will be introduced with a fixed household charge of €100 per annum in 2012, with a value-based addition being introduced in 2013. Initial consultation on the implications of a recurrent annual tax on property has taken place with relevant stakeholders. The Non-Principal Private Residence charge is a matter for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. However, all taxes and potential taxation measures are constantly reviewed in the context of the annual Budget and Finance Bill process. At this stage, a decision has yet to be taken on the precise legal mechanism to be used to introduce the site value tax and whether this will be done in tax legislation such as the Finance Bill or through other legislation which may fall within the ambit of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

As is customary, it is not proposed to discuss the details of the Finance Bill or of the site value tax in advance of the legislation being published. However, the theory behind site value tax — or land value tax, as it is often called — is that tax is calculated by reference to the value of the land or site irrespective of whether there is a property on the site, or of what type of property is in place.

Asset Disposals

Joe Costello

Question:

93 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if he will give details of the once off measures announced in Budget 2011 totalling some €700 million; if he will give further details of the tangible and intangible assets he intends to dispose of, in whole or in part; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1400/11]

The once-off measures announced in Budget 2011 total €660 million and are comprised of asset disposals, the sale of mobile telephony licences, debt servicing savings and increased dividends. The expected yield from each of these components is set out in Table 4 on page D.17 of the Budget book. Receipts from asset disposals will be considered during 2011 and could arise from a variety of sources. These include property disposals, proceeds from the sale of council houses and potential purchases by the NPRF. The Government will also consider the scope for disposals arising from the recommendations of the McCarthy Review Group on the assets and liabilities of the Commercial Semi-States. An estimate of €300 million from asset disposals has been factored into the budgetary arithmetic.

Banking Sector Regulation

Michael Creed

Question:

94 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the targets he has set for loans to deposit ratios for each of the banks; the consultation that has taken place with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund in setting these ratios; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1306/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Memorandum of Understanding sets out a deadline of end December 2010 for agreement with the Irish authorities and the ECB, European Commission and the IMF on agreed loan to deposit ratios for each bank. However following further discussions with the ECB/EU/IMF, it has been agreed that it would be more appropriate to decide on the loan to deposit ratios for 2013 when the information from the PCAR and PLAR is available.

This does not in any way diminish the commitment to appropriate restructuring of the banks in the period.

Fiscal Policy

Martin Ferris

Question:

95 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance is there an agreement to draw down all funds from the European Financial Stability Mechanism, the European Financial Stability Facility and the International Monetary Fund proportionally; the amounts needed in 2011; when these funds will be drawn down; the uses to which these funds will be put when drawn down in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1409/11]

Pat Breen

Question:

99 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the plans the European Financial Stability Mechanism and the European Financial Stability Facility have to raise money on the markets to fund the Irish bailout; if he was consulted on these plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1308/11]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

131 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance when he intends to draw down the first instalment of the International Monetary Fund/EU package; if he will provide a timeline for planned drawdowns from this package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1407/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 95, 99 and 131 together.

On January 5th the EFSM launched a five year bond, of which it sold €5 billion. These funds were raised at a cost of 5.51% to Ireland. Ireland will be in receipt of this on January 12th. A receipt equivalent to about €5.8 billion is expected from the IMF on January 18th. The cost of these funds will depend on market conditions when the funds are drawn down. Further drawdowns from the IMF of about €2.1 billion per calendar quarter are scheduled during 2011, starting in March. Each of these drawdowns will be subject to Ireland's preceding quarterly review by the EU-IMF.

The EFSF is likely to access the bond markets on behalf of Ireland towards the end of January and the EFSM is expected to similarly access the markets later in the first quarter. In broad terms, the amounts drawn down from each of the three external sources are intended to be roughly equal over the course of the year. The timing of the EFSM and EFSF receipts are subject to the market entry strategies of these bodies and discussions with the Irish authorities. Funding from the UK is likely to commence in the third quarter of 2011 and discussions are ongoing as to the drawdown schedule. The rate of interest is expected to be about 5.9 per cent, based on current market conditions.

Personal Debt

Joe Carey

Question:

96 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance when the in depth review of the personal debt regime will be published, as promised in the EU/International Monetary Fund programme of financial support for Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1313/11]

The Memorandum of Understanding document, attached to the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland which the Deputy refers to, identifies the early publication of the in-depth review of the personal debt regime as well the commencement of work on reform of legislation which will balance the interests of both creditors and debtors as actions to be delivered by end of the first quarter in 2011. The Deputy will be aware that the final report onPersonal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement (Final Report) was published by the Law Reform Commission in December 2010 and can be accessed at www.lawreform.ie.

The Deputy will also be aware that my colleague Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., Minister for Justice and Law Reform, has indicated to the House on several occasions that he intends to give early attention to the recommendations in the Final Report.

Waste Management

David Stanton

Question:

97 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to parliamentary Question No. 73 of 10 November 2010, if the working group established to develop an approach to the further management and development of the former Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline, County Cork has concluded its deliberations; if a report has been received by him as expected; if this report is to be published; the actions, if any, he intends to take as a result of receiving this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1365/11]

David Stanton

Question:

140 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the number of times the working group chaired by the Office of Public Works and tasked with developing a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the former Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline, County Cork, has met; the dates of any such meetings; if the report has been concluded and if so, if he has received a copy of this report; the action he intends to take as a result of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1364/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 140 together.

The Working Group, established by Government, to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the former Irish ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork, has met on a number of occasions in 2010.

The report outlining the Working Group's recommendations is currently being finalised. This report will be submitted to Government in the coming weeks for consideration, including the issue of publication.

State Banking Sector

Róisín Shortall

Question:

98 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance his views on progress with investigations into potential wrongdoings or illegalities at Anglo Irish Bank; his further views on the recent findings of the disciplinary committee of the chartered accountants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1389/11]

As the Deputy is aware a number of investigations are ongoing into matters at Anglo Irish Bank. These include investigations by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland. The Department of Justice has informed me that two Investigation Files relating to matters in Anglo Irish Bank were submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation on 18th December, 2010 and directions are awaited.

The investigation is ongoing by An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Investigation Team in the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation continue to conduct necessary follow-up inquiries in respect of both investigations, as well as investigations into separate complaints received regarding other alleged malpractices at Anglo Irish Bank.

As recently as last week Mr. Paul Appleby, the Director of Corporate Enforcement published ‘A Review of ODCE Activity in 2010'. An extract from The Summary Review mentions the progress of the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank:

‘A major preoccupation in 2010 was our continuing investigations of Anglo Irish Bank. By year-end, we had transmitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions one file and three reports on four aspects of our investigations. Those aspects related to:

the provision by Anglo in 2008 of a loan to one of its directors. (The material sent to the DPP comprised a file of some 400 pages);

the non-disclosure of certain directors' loans in Anglo's published financial statements over a number of years. (The material included a 116 page report supported by about 1,200 pages of additional documents);

the provision by Anglo to a number of persons in 2008 of financial assistance for the purchase of its shares. (The material sent to the DPP comprised a 28 page report supplemented by about 400 pages of extra documents);

the communication of possible false or misleading information in certain Anglo public statements in 2008. (The material included a 98 page report supported by close to 1,300 pages of additional documents).

Further work is ongoing, and this is expected to result in the submission of extra documentation to the DPP in early 2011.'

Regarding the four Reports presented by Special Investigator, Mr. John Purcell to the Complaints Committee of the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (CARB) of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland, certified that, in his opinion, there existed certain prima facie cases that Institute members, Mr. David Drumm, Mr. Sean FitzPatrick, Mr. William McAteer and Mr. Peter Fitzpatrick, were liable to disciplinary action under the Bye-Laws of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

The Complaints Committee referred those prima facie cases to CARB's Disciplinary Committee by way of Formal Complaints under the provisions of Bye-Law 72.6 of the Bye-Laws of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on those matters until the investigations have been completed except to say that I welcome the fact that the Gardaí and ODCE investigations have now reached a point where the DPP can make an assessment on the matter.

Question No. 99 answered with Question No. 95.

Bank Deposits

Jack Wall

Question:

100 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance his views on reports that in excess of €70 billion worth of customer deposits fled from the domestic credit institutions over the course of 2010; the amount of deposits that fled from those domestic credit institutions subject to the deposit guarantee scheme over the course of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1384/11]

It has been clear for some time that our banks were facing serious challenges in terms of their liquidity position. Lingering concerns in the market regarding their capital position has led to negative market sentiment. In addition unfavourable, and in some cases, irresponsible media reports have contributed to this negative sentiment. The Deputy will be aware that the Central Bank of Ireland collects data from the resident offices of all credit institutions, and publishes an aggregate balance sheet for all institutions and for the domestic group. The domestic group comprises 21 Credit Institutions (including the institutions subject to the Deposit Guarantee Scheme) and the Credit Unions.

For the domestic group there was a fall in resident deposits of €13.6 billion; and non-resident deposits fell by €55.9 billion, totalling €69.5 billion.

The Financial Programme with the European Commission/ECB/IMF does not propose any departure from existing policy, indeed its prescription is an intensification and acceleration of the restructuring process already being undertaken by the Irish banks. A key objective of the Programme is to ensure that the size of the domestic banking system is proportionate to the size of the economy and is appropriately aligned with the funding capacity of the banks overall, taking into account stable sources of deposit and wholesale funding.

It is important to point out that under the ELG Scheme in place until end 2011, deposit balances in the covered institutions continue to be guaranteed. The permanent Deposit Guarantee Scheme is in place for retail deposits up to €100,000. Since the signing of the agreement with the European Commission/ECB/IMF in December 2010, significant work is underway by the relevant authorities to complete the Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR) and the Prudential Liquidity Assessment Plan (PLAR), these being two important components of the agreement, to be completed by end March.

The completion of these projects will bring additional confidence to the Irish Banking system.

The Government is determined to rebuild consumer and investor confidence in our financial system. Under the terms of the Programme agreement, and as I have already mentioned, the restoration of normal market funding of our banking system is a central objective of the Programme overall.

Fiscal Policy

Arthur Morgan

Question:

101 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the total interest that, under current conditions, will need to be repaid in 2011; the projected interest costs for 2011 if money is drawn down under the EU/International Monetary Fund loan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1406/11]

Debt servicing costs are made up of three separate components: (i) debt interest payments, (ii) the sinking fund provision and (iii) debt management expenses. I have been advised by the NTMA that the debt service estimate underpinning the Budget 2011 public finance forecasts amounts to €5.6 billion in 2011, with €5 billion coming from the Exchequer and €0.6 billion from the Capital Services Redemption Account. This estimated cost assumes that funds are drawn down under the joint EU/IMF programme of financial assistance.

The actual cost of servicing the borrowing under the programme will depend on the prevailing market rates at the time of each drawdown.

National Asset Management Agency

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

102 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance the nature and extent of asset disposals expected in 2011 by the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1377/11]

NAMA has its own Board and has a commercial remit and will make decisions on asset disposals on a case-by-case basis with the debtor where disposal is the best option for maximising value. I am advised that the Board of NAMA has set targets that it wants to realise 25% of its portfolio by end 2013 and this has been factored into the Debtor Business Plan process. The rate of progress in this sales process will be impacted by the demand in the market and the availability of purchasers. Section 55 of the NAMA Act 2009 requires NAMA to make a quarterly report to the Minister for Finance within 3 months of the end of the quarter to which the report refers and these reports will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The quarterly report includes, among other things, information on the number of loans being foreclosed or otherwise enforced and the amount of money recovered by NAMA through the sale of property. The quarterly report for the third quarter has been submitted to me and I expect to lay it before both Houses shortly.

Fiscal Policy

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

103 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance his views on the end of 2010 Exchequer returns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1368/11]

The end-year Exchequer Returns of revenues and expenditure for 2010 provide further evidence of the stabilisation in the public finances. The overall Exchequer Balance of €18.7 billion is in line with my Department's estimates set out in December 2009. Tax receipts were €703 million or 2.3% above target while voted expenditure of Government Departments was almost €730 million or 1.5% down year-on-year, demonstrating the positive impact of decisions taken by Government. The stabilisation of our tax revenues and the achievement of the Exchequer deficit target as set out in December 2009 are encouraging signs and indicate that the underlying General Government deficit should come in at 11.6% of GDP. This is in line with my Department's Budget day forecast in December 2009 and means we will achieve our stated aim of stabilising the deficit ratio at the underlying 2009 level.

The Exchequer Returns for 2010 confirm my analysis that the public finances have stabilised. These figures, in tandem with the encouraging economic data for the third quarter of 2010, mean we enter 2011 on the road to economic recovery and that the targets set in Budget 2011 are achievable.

The Government has consistently identified export-led growth as the strategy that will return this economy to growth and generate jobs. This strategy is working thanks to the improvement of competitiveness, and the flexibility and adaptability of the Irish economy. Exports in 2010 were at an all-time high and represented growth of 6.2% on 2009. This strong performance was particularly positive in the manufacturing and agri-food sectors.

Insurance Industry

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

104 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on progress with the restructuring of the Quinn Group including, specifically, the sale or re-organisation of Quinn Insurance; if all efforts are being made to secure the best interests of workers and customers of the company including the maintenance of employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1380/11]

On 3 June 2010 the High Court granted the Joint Administrators permission to appoint advisers on any prospective sale of Quinn Insurance Ltd (QIL). The advisers, on behalf of the Joint Administrators, issued an information memorandum on 27 August on the sale of the company to interested parties which set out a two stage process for selecting a purchaser. The first stage required the submission of a non-binding indicative proposal by Friday 17 September 2010.

I understand that following evaluation by the advisers and the Joint Administrators of the above mentioned proposals, a limited number of prospective purchasers were shortlisted by the Administrators to participate in Phase II of the sale process. They have conducted further due diligence including the consideration of the necessary commercial information, enabling them to make a final bid.

The Joint Administrators are currently considering the final bids. Once a preferred bidder is chosen the Administrators will enter into detailed discussions with them to seek to conclude an agreement. I understand that the Administrators wish to conclude a sale transaction as soon as possible.

Finally, the Deputy should note that the Joint Administrators are working to find a solution that addresses the issue of putting the company back on a sound commercial and financial footing. As part of that process their role is to assess bids which will protect the interests of policyholders and which will enable the company to operate as a going concern. The retention and protection of employment is of course an important element of the Administrators' responsibilities subject to their statutory responsibilities.

State Assets

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

105 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities has delivered their report; his views on the contents of the report; if he will undertake to publish the report as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1382/11]

I am advised that the Review Group is currently finalising its report which I hope to receive in due course. I expect it to be published thereafter following appropriate Government consideration.

Departmental Expenditure

Brian Hayes

Question:

106 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements he has put in place to ensure that the €4 billion in proposed savings arising from the cuts in public expenditure as announced in the Budget, will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1318/11]

The savings of approximately €4 billion announced by the Government in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 are allocated across each Department and Office in the 2011 Budget, with details set out in the 2011 Budget Estimates. The €4 billion savings will accordingly be delivered in full by each Department and Office in 2011 as part of the normal process of expenditure management.

Banking Sector Regulation

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

107 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if the prudential liquidity assessment plan for Irish banks has been completed, as foreseen in the memorandum of understanding on specific economic policy conditionality, signed with the International Monetary Fund, to set out the target loan to deposit ratios to be achieved by end 2013 for each of the Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1373/11]

The Prudential Liquidity Assessment Review (PLAR) process is ongoing and proceeding according to schedule. The Deputy will be aware that within the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Assistance to Ireland, the Central Bank will complete the PLAR for 2011 by the end of March 2011. The PLAR process will look at the measures to be implemented with a view to steadily deleveraging the banking system and reduce the bank's reliance on short term funding by the end of the programme period. The setting of loan to deposit ratios is deferred on the initiative of the external authorities and targets will be informed by the Central Bank's ongoing PLAR work.

The target loan-to-deposit ratios, once agreed, are designed to ensure that convergence to Basel III standards can be readily met by the relevant dates. To this end, the PLAR will establish target funding ratios for each of the banks, identify non-core assets and set an adjustment path to these targets based on specified non public annual benchmarks. The design and implementation of the PLAR will be agreed with the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF. Compliance with the PLAR benchmarks will be monitored and enforced by the Central Bank taking account of prevailing market conditions. The PLAR will also be updated on an annual basis.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

108 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance the amount of the National Pensions Reserve Fund that will be used for job creation initiatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45800/10]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was established in 2001 under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000. The purpose in establishing the NPRF was to meet 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 legislation was amended by the Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009 and the Credit Insitutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 to allow the Minister for Finance to direct the NPRF Commission, which is responsible for the control, management and investment of the assets of the Fund, to invest in credit institutions in certain circumstances, government and government-guaranteed securities and to make payments to the Exchequer to fund capital expenditure in the years 2011 to 2013.

The Commission is required to invest the assets of the Fund, excluding investments made at the direction of the Minister for Finance, so as to secure the optimal total financial return, having regard to the purpose of the Fund and the eventual requirements on the Fund to make payments to the Exchequer, provided the level of risk to the moneys held or invested is acceptable to the Commission. In relation to the creation of employment, the Government announced in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 that it would help identify public infrastructure investment opportunities for the NPRF and that the Commission had agreed in principle to fund the domestic water meter installation programme. The Fund is also a participant in Innovation Fund Ireland and has made other Irish venture capital investments. The Commission is of course required to satisfy itself that such investments are is in accordance with its investment mandate.

The latest published figure for the value of NPRF in 2010 is to the end of December, when the value of the Fund was €24.4 billion.

Tax Code

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

109 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance when the anomaly concerning the universal social charge will be dealt with in view of the fact that it has actually meant that self-employed persons earning more than €200,000 per annum are benefiting from these changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1410/11]

I am aware of the issue the Deputy has raised concerning the Universal Social Charge and I will be considering it in the context of the Finance Bill and also in the overall context of income earners final liability to tax.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

110 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Finance in view of the collapse in tourist numbers visiting Ireland since the introduction of the airport travel tax, his views on whether this tax should be removed if the recently announcement policy of increasing the number of overseas tourists visiting here is to be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44174/10]

I do not accept that the air travel tax has a material impact on tourism numbers. Prospective visitors will base their choice of destination on a range of issues. These will include the cost of travelling to a destination but are more likely to be influenced by the cost structure within that destination, and the range of activities and visitor attractions on offer. However, taking account of some of the comments made last year, I announced in the Budget a single revised rate of air travel tax of €3 with effect from 1 March 2011 and will assess the impact of this to see if passenger numbers are affected.

Banks Recapitalisation

Pearse Doherty

Question:

111 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when he intends to inject funds into Anglo Irish Bank or any of the other banks; the way in which this will affect the reserve money to fund the State in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1405/11]

Following is the information requested by the Deputy.

Capitalisation of Credit Institutions

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Value of Promissory Notes Issued

Capital Provided to 31 December 2010

Additional CT1 required by Central Bank

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4.000

25.28

29.280

Allied Irish Banks

3.700

3.50

7.200

6.065

Bank of Ireland

1.700

1.80

3.500

2.199

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.100

5.30

5.400

EBS Building Society

0.625

0.25

0.875

0.438

Total

10.100

5.30

30.80

46.300

8.700

*Cash received on cancellation of Warrants.

The table above sets out the amount of capital injected by the State into the Irish Banking System to date.

The Central Bank has set out the further capital that will be required by AIB, BOI and EBS in order for them to meet a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011 as agreed in the Programme for Financial Support with the IMF, EU and the ECB. In this regard, the position is as follows:

In order to meet its target AIB in December 2010 received a net capital injection of €3.7 billion from the National Pension Reserve Fund. To meet its core tier 1 ratio, it will require a further €6.1 billion which the State remains committed to meeting to the extent that it cannot be met through capital raising measures by the bank itself. This is expected to be met through a combination of fresh capital from the State, the execution of a liability management exercise in relation to existing subordinated debt holders and other capital generative measures ongoing by the bank.

The Central Bank has instructed Bank of Ireland to raise a further €2.2 billion to reach a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011. To date Bank of Ireland has raised some €700 million of this capital requirement through an LME exercise and intends to seek to generate the remaining required capital through a combination of internal capital management initiatives, support from existing shareholders and other capital markets sources. On 10 January 2011 Bank of Ireland announced the completion of the sale of Bank of Ireland Asset Management to State Street Global Advisors.

EBS is now required to raise an additional €438m Core Tier 1 capital to achieve a capital ratio of at least 12% core tier 1 by 28 February 2011. The final amount of additional State support, if any, will not be known until the outcome of the sales process is finalised.

With regard to the Promissory Notes for Anglo Irish Bank, INBS and EBS, the position is:

Anglo Irish Bank has been provided with €29.28 billion in capital, of which €25.28 billion was in the form of a Promissory Note. The terms of the Promissory Note provides that, inter alia, 10% of the initial principal amount shall be paid in March each year to the holder of the Note. In the case of Anglo, this amounts to €2.528m per annum, with the first such payment falling at the end of March 2011 from the Exchequer.

With regard to INBS, I have injected capital amounting to €5.4 billion into the society. This comprised a €100m cash injection in return for INBS Special Investment Shares and €5.3 billion by way of a Promissory Note. The terms of the INBS Promissory Note provides that, inter alia, 10% of the initial principal amount shall be paid in March each year to the holder of the Note. In the case of INBS, this amounts to €530m per annum, with the first such payment falling at the end of March 2011 from the Exchequer.

EBS has been provided with €875 million in capital. This comprised a €625 million cash injection in return for EBS Special Investment Shares and €250 million by way of a Promissory Note. The terms of the Promissory Note provides that, inter alia, 10% of the initial principal amount shall be paid in June each year to the holder of the Note. In the case of EBS, this amounts to €25 million per annum, with the first such payment falling at the end of June 2011 from the Exchequer.

These annual payments under the terms of the Promissory Notes, which are provided for in the budgetary arithmetic, will be provided through cash payments from the Central Fund.

Proposed Legislation

Willie Penrose

Question:

112 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the progress made with preparations for the introduction of a permanent special resolution regime for Irish banks; when he expects to publish the relevant legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1371/11]

The Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 provides the legislative basis for the reorganisation and restructuring of the banking system agreed in the EU-IMF Programme. It is the first step in putting in place an extensive Special Resolution Regime that will provide for a comprehensive framework to facilitate the orderly management and resolution of distressed credit institutions. In line with the commitment in the Programme agreed with the external authorities my Department is working in conjunction with the Central Bank of Ireland to publish legislation by end-February 2011 to strengthen the legal framework for dealing with distressed deposit-taking institutions. This draft legislation will broaden the available resolution tools with the aim of promoting financial stability.

Banking Sector Regulation

Liz McManus

Question:

113 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the progress with the restructuring and consolidation of the Irish banking system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1375/11]

Billy Timmins

Question:

114 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the progress made in drawing up plans, in agreement with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, for the future restructuring and viability of credit institutions here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1317/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.

The State's primary consideration in its involvement in the banking system is to protect, in the public interest, the financial and economic system of the State. Therefore, the Government's actions in the banking area are designed, while minimising the cost to the taxpayer, to support the development of a reformed and reinvigorated banking system that can serve our economy in a proper manner and, within which, there is scope for all viable credit institutions operating in the Irish market to play their full part.

The agreed joint EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support builds upon the banking measures taken to date and provides for further reform and reorganisation of the banking sector. The objective of the Programme, in so far as it relates to banking, is to fundamentally downsize and reorganise the sector so that it is proportionate to the size of the economy. It also envisages that the sector will be capitalised to the highest international standards and will also be in a position to return to normal market sources of funding. The Programme provides for a range of deleveraging measures, including appropriate actions to dispose of assets, as well as the enhanced re-capitalisation of certain banks. To this end, the Government provided further capital of €3.7 billion to Allied Irish Banks, €6.1 billion to Anglo Irish Bank, €2.7 billion to INBS and €525 million to EBS in December to ensure these institutions met their year end 2010 regulatory requirements of the Central Bank of Ireland. This was consistent with the objective of the joint IMF-EU programme to move Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, Irish Life and Permanent and EBS towards higher levels of capital and additional steps will be taken in the current year.

Further restructuring and viability plans for the relevant credit institutions will be submitted to the European Commission, including plans for the resolution of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in a manner that will fully protect their depositors, realise the maximum value from the two institutions' non-NAMA assets over time and minimise capital losses.

Departmental Reviews

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

115 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the independent review of his Department dealing with staffing structures and levels of expertise has been completed; his views on the recommendations therein; his proposals for implementation of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1135/11]

The Report of the Independent Review Panel chaired by Mr. Rob Wright, former Head of the Department of Finance in Canada, has been completed. The Report reviews the performance of the Department over the past ten years, how it dealt with the current crisis and, based on this assessment, recommends changes for the future development, structure and staffing of the Department.

The Report provided a set of recommendations to modernise management, reform existing organisational structures and increase substantially technical economic and other skills, some of which will require consideration by Government.

Banking Charges

Emmet Stagg

Question:

116 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance his views on recent changes to the charging structure on current accounts by Bank of Ireland, a bank subject to significant taxpayer support; his further views on whether the imposition of the new fee structure will impact most heavily on those least able to pay, that is, those with the lowest incomes and with the lowest balances; if he proposes the introduction of countervailing measures to combat a potential rise in financial exclusion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1391/11]

I am disappointed that the bank is increasing charges for its current account customers but can understand why they are doing so. The Government operates an arm's length relationship with the banks in which the State has a shareholding and the commercial decisions on how best to operate the bank remain a matter for management and the board.

I have no role in approving or setting bank charges. This responsibility lies with the Central Bank. Under the Consumer Credit Act 1995, banks must make a submission to the Central Bank if they wish to introduce or increase charges in respect of a service.

I would also advise the Deputy that the National Consumer Agency's website www.itsyourmoney.ie provides a cost comparison table on the main current accounts provided by individual firms which includes details of how to qualify for free account maintenance and transactions.

As part of the restructuring plan process currently underway with the European Commission it has been proposed that the domestic banking sector will be required to support and promote the availability of a basic bank account. This is to be done in the context of the implementation of the Government's strategy on financial inclusion in the State.

Work is underway on a review of the options available to achieve greater financial inclusion, including the introduction of basic bank accounts by year end 2011. The objective of the review, which is being undertaken by the Social Finance Foundation on my behalf, is to identify recommended actions to achieve a substantial reduction in financial exclusion over a 3 — 5 year period.

The preparation of the review is being overseen by a steering group chaired by my Department and comprising key stakeholders. I expect to receive a draft report which sets out the recommendations from the review sometime in the first quarter of this year, and I intend to publish this for consultation purposes.

EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

117 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance in respect of commitments set out in the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the International Monetary Fund, EU Commission and European Central Bank, if he has commenced the weekly reporting requirements; if he will set out any such reports which have been submitted to date and the date on which they were submitted; the form in which the onsite surveillance being carried out by staff of the relevant institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1397/11]

The policy conditionality associated with the EU-IMF Programme for Ireland is set out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) and in the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality. These documents together with the Technical Memorandum of Understanding which are collectively referred to as the MoU have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Annex 1 of the MoU sets out the data to be provided to the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF authorities. As regards weekly reporting, this commenced on Friday 7 January. Information was provided in relation to the main Government spending and receipt items and the Government's cash position and this information is being made available on the website of the Department of Finance.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

118 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the nature of the programme of external assistance negotiated with the International Monetary Fund; the gross interest charged by the IMF on the drawdown of Special Drawing Rights; the maturity of this lending arrangement; the nature and terms of the interest rate swap, currency swap or other derivate contracts related to the drawdown of SDRs by Ireland, including the margin or other cost charged on these contracts; the net interest, inclusive of associated derivate contracts, being paid by Ireland in respect of its drawdown of SDRs from the IMF; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1366/11]

The Programme of Financial support for Ireland of up to €85 billion, including €17.5 billion from the Government's own resources, involving the IMF, the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM), the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and bilateral loans from the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark has been put in place to provide funding for the Exchequer as required to meet its ordinary needs and, if necessary, to provide support for the banking system.

The external assistance being provided is as follows

€22.5 billion from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM)

€22.5 billion from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and bilateral loans from the UK, Sweden and Denmark.

€22.5 billion from the IMF.

The EU Commission estimated that the average interest rate on the €67.5 billion available to be drawn from the three external sources under the EU — IMF programme would be 5.82 per cent on the basis of market rates at the time of the agreement. The actual cost will depend on the prevailing market rates at the time of each drawdown. The average life of the borrowings, which will involve a combination of longer and shorter dated maturities, under each of these sources will be approximately 7.5 years.

The IMF lending is denominated in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). The SDR comprises a basket of four currencies, Euro, Sterling, the US Dollar and Japanese Yen. The IMF's SDR lending rate is based on the three month floating interest rates for the currencies in the basket. In the presentation of the financial support programme the interest cost on the IMF's floating rate SDR lending was expressed by the EU as the equivalent rate if the funds were fully swapped into fixed rate Euro of 7½ years maturity and was estimated to be 5.7 per cent per annum. This expressed the interest rate in terms which could be compared with the cost of borrowing from the EU sources at the time of the agreement.

Banks Recapitablisation

Michael Noonan

Question:

119 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance the progress being made to recapitalise AIB, Bank of Ireland and the EBS to a level of 12% Core Tier 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1303/11]

The Central Bank has set out the further capital that will be required by AIB, BOI and EBS in order for them to meet a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011 as agreed in the Programme for Financial Support with the IMF, EU and the ECB.

In order to meet this target AIB in December 2010 received a net capital injection of EUR3.7bn from the National Pension Reserve Fund. It will require a further €6.1 billion which the State remains committed to meeting to the extent that it cannot be met through capital raising measures by the bank itself.

The Central Bank has instructed Bank of Ireland to raise a further €2.2 billion to reach a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011. To date Bank of Ireland has raised some €700 million of this capital requirement through an LME exercise and intends to seek to generate the remaining required capital through a combination of internal capital management initiatives, support from existing shareholders and other capital markets sources. On 10 January 2011 Bank of Ireland announced the completion of the sale of Bank of Ireland Asset Management to State Street Global Advisors.

In December 2010 €525 million of capital was injected into EBS building society in return for the issuance of special investment shares. The Central Bank has instructed that EBS must raise an additional €438 million to meet the revised target. The State remains committed to meeting the remaining capital requirement, to the extent that private capital is not forthcoming. In relation to the sales process two bids for EBS are now being considered; one from Irish Life & Permanent and the other from an international consortium led by Cardinal Capital Group. The process of final negotiations with these parties is continuing and it would not be proper for me to comment further on the detail at this stage.

National Asset Management Agency

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

120 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out any changes made or proposed to the structure of the National Asset Management Agency Special Purpose Vehicle in view of the banks’ imminent nationalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1396/11]

There are no proposals to make any changes to the structure of the NAMA SPV. The recent acquisition of a majority shareholding in AIB does not have any implications for the ownership structure in NAMA. While a group of clients of Allied Irish Banks Investment Managers, have invested €17m in the NAMA SPV, it is important to note that the beneficial owners of the investment are pension funds or other clients of these investment companies and not the parent credit institution.

In relation to the recent Exchequer Statement reclassification of the €49 million advance for share capital of the NAMA SPV, I can confirm that is purely a classification issue and has no impact on the ownership of the NAMA Master SPV. An advance was made to NAMA from the Central Fund to allow NAMA to acquire a 49% share in the NAMA Master SPV. The transfer from the Central Fund therefore is now correctly classified as a loan to NAMA as opposed to an investment in share capital acquired as this share capital isn't directly held by the Exchequer but held by NAMA. I would stress that this has no impact on the ownership of NAMA. This reclassification has no impact on the General Government Debt as the €49m is still accounted for as non-voted capital expenditure.

Proposed Legislation

Willie Penrose

Question:

121 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the new or amending legislation that arises from the EU/International Monetary Fund bailout; his plans for this legislation to be enacted before the general election; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1370/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010 was published on 14 December 2010, completed all Stages in the Houses of the Oireachtas over the course of 15 and 16 December 2010 and has been signed into law by the President as the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010. The Act provides the legislative basis for the reorganisation and restructuring of the banking system agreed in the joint EU — IMF Programme for Ireland. It provides broad powers to the Minister for Finance (in consultation with the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland) to act on financial stability grounds to effect the restructuring actions and recapitalisation measures envisaged in the Programme. The Act applies to banks that have received financial support from the State, domestic building societies and credit unions.

The Act is the first important step in putting in place an extensive Special Resolution Regime (SRR) that will provide for a comprehensive framework to facilitate the orderly management and resolution of distressed credit institutions. As agreed under the Programme, draft legislation providing for the introduction of a comprehensive SRR, consistent with best international practice and the evolving EU framework, is scheduled for introduction to the Oireachtas by end-February 2011.

The Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 also provides for the amendment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2008 to facilitate the State's own contribution to the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland over the next three years.

In addition to the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act, the NAMA legislation will be amended to underpin the valuation and acquisition of land and development loans below a value threshold of €20m.

The Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1927 effectively requires that the Finance Act must be enacted within four months of Budget Day. For this year's Budget Day of 7th December, the Finance Bill has to be signed by the President by 6th April. The Finance Bill 2011 will be published on 20th January 2011 and is scheduled to have passed all stages by the 25th February 2011.

The Social Welfare Act, 2010 has been passed. Provisions announced in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 in relation to the National Minimum Wage and the reduction of public service pension costs require legislation, and to this end the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2010 has been approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas.

In the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, the Government sets out proposals for a range of budget reforms to underpin the sustainability of the Irish public finances into the future, including a Budget Advisory Council to provide an independent commentary on the Government's budgetary planning, by means of assessing the appropriateness of the budgetary stance and the aggregate targets being adopted; a medium term expenditure framework to ensure that public expenditure is managed within fixed, sustainable limits; and a Fiscal Responsibility Law to put key reform measures on a statutory basis. These commitments are also reflected in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. The Government intends to bring forward a Fiscal Responsibility Bill in the near future.

Other areas where it is at present envisaged that legislation will arise in the context of the EU-IMF Programme are detailed in the Memorandum of Understanding which was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 14 December 2010. Many of the proposals concerned are already contained in the National Recovery Plan. These include measures related to the labour market including measures designed to reduce the risk of long-term unemployment; increases to the state pension age under the Government's National Pension Framework; and legislative changes to remove restrictions to trade and competition in sheltered sectors and to enhance competition in open markets.

Banks Recapitalisation

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

122 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the timeline for the completion of the Prudential Capital Assessment Review on minimal capital requirements for the Irish Banks; when he expects any capital needs arising from the PCAR to be met by the Exchequer; the mechanism by which he intends to meet these capital needs whether by promissory notes, direct transfer from the Central Fund, direct transfer from the National Pension Reserve Fund and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1369/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the plan to reorganise the banking system in Ireland is a key part of the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Assistance to Ireland. This reorganisation has several elements, which will be bolstered by raising capital standards. While I expect that, in a restructured system, banks will be able to raise capital in the market, I recognise that the higher standards may imply that public provision of capital could be needed in the short term for banks that are deemed to be viable. To support this process — and to render it credible — the Central Bank is undertaking a review of the capital needs of banks, called the Prudential Capital Assessment Review 2011, or PCAR, on the basis of current asset valuations and stringent stress tests. This review will build on the previous PCAR announced in my Statement to Dáil Éireann of 30 September 2010, and is due to be completed by 31 March 2011.

The design and planning of the PCAR are already well under way and the terms of reference for its design and implementation have already been agreed between the Central Bank, the European Commission, IMF and ECB staff. Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks, ILP and EBS will be subject, as previously announced, to a stress test in March 2011 under the Central Bank's PCAR methodology. If, as a result of the PCAR, banks are assessed to require additional capital, the Central Bank may impose this requirement on them.

The PCAR, along with all the other measures being taken to stabilise the banking system, should enhance confidence in the solvency of the banking system in Ireland.

As the Deputy is aware, the National Pension Reserve Fund will provide up to €10 billion of the State's €17.5 billion contribution to the €85 billion EU-IMF programme. Any further capital requirements, if required, arising from the PCAR will be subject to alternative sources of financing, subject to the agreement of the Irish Authorities and the International Bodies.

Credit Availability

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

123 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance his views on the availability of credit to families and businesses here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1392/11]

Under the NAMA legislation, both AIB and Bank of Ireland are required to lend €3bn per annum (covering the period April to April) to SMEs. In my statement on banking at the end of March 2010, I asked AIB and Bank of Ireland to produce creditable plans for the achievement of that target. The Deputy will be aware that my Department and Mr. Trethowan of the Credit Review Office receive monthly progress reports from the two banks which allow us to monitor their lending to viable businesses in all sectors of the economy and in every area of the country. I also established the Credit Review Office to ensure that AIB and Bank of Ireland would lend to viable businesses. Mr. Trethowan has recently reported to the Department that both AIB and Bank of Ireland remain open for business and I would strongly encourage borrowers to use the Credit Review Office if they find this is not so.

Mr. Trethowan also found no evidence that banks have been indiscriminately refusing credit on formal loan applications. He also reported that no trade sector or geographical region was adversely affected by lending decisions

My officials are working on an ongoing basis with their colleagues in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, the Credit Review Office, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás to address access to credit issues for viable SMEs.

In relation to credit to families, I am not aware of any specific difficulties with access to personal credit from credit worthy individuals. The latest figures on mortgage lending published by the IBF/PWC for quarter 3 of 2010 show that while new mortgage lending continues to be low, it is still running at over €1 billion per quarter.

Public Sector Expenditure

Mary Upton

Question:

124 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if the shortfall, with reference to the target in Health Service Executive staff applying for the incentivised early retirement or redundancy scheme, will impact on savings in the public sector pay bill for 2011 as set out on budget day; if he plans to introduce other measures or such schemes to make up any shortfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1394/11]

The savings targets for 2011 are as set out in the Budget Estimates and now form part of the allocation for each Department and Agency over the coming year. These savings targets are based on a reduction of public service numbers to 301,000 by the end of 2011, through the continued implementation of the moratorium on recruitment, and other savings to be realised through a range of reform measures, including those set out in the Croke Park Agreement. The contribution of the health sector voluntary early retirement (VER) scheme/voluntary redundancy scheme (VRS) to these savings was provisionally estimated at around €123 million, with a corresponding reduction in the numbers employed of some 2,250 staff on a whole-time equivalents (w.t.e.) basis, based on an up-front cost ceiling of €250 million and depending on the take up of the early retirement/voluntary redundancy options between management/administrative and support staff. As is normal, each Department and Agency will be expected to take appropriate steps to remain within their 2011 Estimate allocation. The delivery of the required savings, including payroll savings, will be monitored closely and any necessary policy adjustments would have to be considered in that overall context during the course of 2011 and later years.

I understand that the latest figures on take up under the VER/VRS is approximately 2,000 on a headcount basis but my Department is still awaiting final figures on costs and savings from the HSE and the Department of Health and Children. It would be a matter for the HSE and Department of Health and Children in the first instance to assess the implications of the actual take up of the scheme and to make proposals to my Department in the matter, if appropriate.

Subordinated Debt

Brian O'Shea

Question:

125 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the subordinated bondholders of Irish banks in receipt of State support have been made shoulder some of the burden for their unwise investments; if he will provide a breakdown by institution of the total outstanding subordinated debts and their market values; the total subordinated liabilities paid back in full or in part since the introduction of the blanket bank guarantee in September 2008; the timescale and the mechanism for the imposition of further burden sharing on these subordinated bondholders; the amount of capital he expects to generate in this manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1376/11]

As detailed in the following tables, holders of subordinated debt in the covered institutions have experienced significant burden sharing which reduced the amount of State support that has been required by them. As set out in the tables, several of the institutions have carried out Liability Management Exercises (LMEs) in which their subordinated debt has been subject to buy-backs at very significant discounts. The Deputy will also be aware as part of the Joint Programme agreed with the EU and IMF at the end of November last, the Government is committed to achieving further burden sharing with holders of subordinated debt over the period of the programme. In line with the terms of the agreement and my Statement on Banking in September 2010 this will be achieved through deeply discounted LMEs or, if necessary, and subject to the provisions of the Credit Institutions Stabilisation Act enacted late last year by legislative means. The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tables following:

Allied Irish Banks Capital Qualifying Securities

Market value of subordinated debt

Capital generated

€m

€m

€m

Subordinated Debt at 30 September 2008

6,247

4,347

Nil

Subordinated Debt outstanding at 7 January 2011

4,775

1,246

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back or which matured between 29 September 2008 and 7 Jan 2011 at full book value

No maturities or buy backs

Nil

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back as part of an LME in the period 30 Sept 2008 to 7 Jan 2011*

4,586

3,053*

1,533*

(The above are subject to Currency fluctuations)

*Market Value and Capital generated adjusted for €13m of costs.

Anglo Irish Bank

€m

Indicative Market Price of subordinated debt

Capital generated€m

Subordinated Debt at 30 September 2008

€4,850 (€Equivalent)

€ Lower Tier 2 73/81

Nil

$ Lower Tier 2 58/65

£ Upper Tier 2 56/58

Tier 1 30/40

Subordinated Debt outstanding at 7 January 2011

* €768 (€Equivalent)

N/A — illiquid

Nil

(US PP USD200mio

Lower Tier 2 last traded at 25)

Subordinated Debt bought back or which matured between 29 September 2008 and 7 Jan 2011 at full book value

€0 — No Subordinated debt bought-back from the external market at par.

July 2009

Nil

€ Lower Tier 2 54/56

£ Upper Tier 2 36/38

Tier 1 26/28

October 2010

€ Lower Tier 2 24/28

£ Upper Tier 2 8/12

Tier 1 5/8

Subordinated Debt bought back as part of an LME in the period 30 Sept 2008 to 7 Jan 2011

€4,100

July 2009

2009 LME: €1,800 equity gain.

(€Equivalent)

€ Lower Tier 2 54/56

2009 LME Prices:

£ Upper Tier 2 36/38

Lower Tier 2 bought back at 55

Tier 1 26/28

Upper Tier 2 bought back at 37

Tier 1 bought back at 27

October 2010

2010 LME: €1,600 equity gain. Note this number is draft and unaudited (excludes tax, regulatory and other accounting adjustments)

2010 LME Prices:

€ Lower Tier 2 24/28

Lower Tier 2 exchanged at 20 — clean up call 1 cent per €1,000

£ Upper Tier 2 8/12

Upper Tier 2 & Tier 1 Consent fee of 5

Tier 1 5/8

Notes:

Please note exchanges rates as at 31 December 2010 have been used where possible in order to provide a corresponding EUR equivalent.

*Included in the total figure of €0.768bn of subordinated debt is the sum of €0.348bn which relates to 300,000 Non-Cumulative Preference Shares.

The inclusion of these preference shares in the bank's subordinated debt is required by accounting rules notwithstanding that they are now owned by the Minister as they remain technically a debt due to the shareholder on a winding up, albeit one ranking after all other debtors.

Bank of Ireland

Market value of subordinated debt

Capital generated

€m

€m

€m

Subordinated Debt at 30 September 2008

8,474

Nil

Nil

Subordinated Debt outstanding at 7 January 2011

2,808

1,346

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back or which matured between 29 September 2008 and 7 Jan 2011 at full book value

Maturity (1,350)

Nil

Nil

New Issues (as part of LM)

1,345

Subordinated Debt bought back as part of an LME in the period 30 Sept 2008 to 7 Jan 2011

5,692

3,293

2,533*

*Gain includes unwind of hedge adjustments.

EBS Building Society

Market value of subordinated debt

Capital generated

€m

€m

€m

Subordinated Debt at 30 September 2008

217.5

Indicative Market Value Range (EBS Treasury) €141m to €152m

Nil

Subordinated Debt outstanding at 7 January 2011

213.1

Indicative Market Value Range (EBS Treasury) €64m to €75m

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back or which matured between 29 September 2008 and 7 Jan 2011 at full book value

Nil

Nil

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back as part of an LME in the period 30 Sept 2008 to 7 Jan 2011

Nil

Nil

Nil

Irish Life & Permanent

Nominal Amount

Market value of subordinated debt

Capital generated

€m

€m

€m

Subordinated Debt at 30 September 2008

1,348

1,525

Nil

Subordinated Debt outstanding at 7 January 2011

1,467

765

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back or which matured between 29 September 2008 and 7 Jan 2011 at full book value

Nil

Nil

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back as part of an LME in the period 30 Sept 2008 to 7 Jan 2011

Nil

Nil

Nil

Irish Nationwide Building Society

Nominal Amount

Market value of subordinated debt

Capital generated

€m

€m

€m

Subordinated Debt at 30 September 2008

316

188.06

Nil

Subordinated Debt outstanding at 7 January 2011

171

31.6

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back or which matured between 29 September 2008 and 7 Jan 2011 at full book value

Nil

Nil

Nil

Subordinated Debt bought back as part of an LME in the period 30 Sept 2008 to 7 Jan 2011

267

Nil

120

Banks Recapitalisation

Emmet Stagg

Question:

126 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on progress made with the introduction of basic bank accounts as foreseen in the original bank recapitalisation agreement in December 2008, to tackle financial exclusion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1390/11]

As part of the restructuring plan process currently under way with the European Commission it has been proposed that the domestic banking sector will be required to support and promote the availability of a basic bank account. This is to be done in the context of the implementation of the Government's strategy on financial inclusion in the State. Work is under way on a review of the options available to achieve greater financial inclusion — including the introduction of basic bank accounts by year end 2011. The objective of the review, which is being undertaken by the Social Finance Foundation on my behalf, is to identify recommended actions to achieve a substantial reduction in financial exclusion over a 3-5 year period.

The preparation of the review is being overseen by a steering group chaired by my Department and comprising key stakeholders. I expect to receive a draft report which sets out the recommendations from the review sometime in the first quarter of this year, and I intend to publish this for consultation purposes.

Proposed Legislation

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

127 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the National Assets Management Agency legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1311/11]

The Programme of Financial Support for Ireland provides for financial sector reforms including further deleveraging of the banks which is to be in part achieved by transferring land and development loans from AIB and Bank of Ireland to NAMA which had been previously excluded from transfer by virtue of their being below a value threshold of €20m. The Programme requires that "[t]he NAMA legislation will be amended to underpin the valuation and acquisition of these assets on a portfolio basis" and that NAMA will apply different discounts to categories of loans "based on NAMA's loan valuation experience up to the point of valuation.". I will be introducing proposals to amend the legislation in near future to allow for the transfer of these pooled categorised eligible assets.

Financial Reserves

Pearse Doherty

Question:

128 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the amount of the reserves at the Central Bank; the extent of the National Pensions Reserve Fund at this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1404/11]

I am informed by the Central Bank that the most recent published figure for the accounting reserves of the Bank is €1.5 billion. At 31 December 2010 the total value of the National Pensions Reserve Fund was €24.4 billion. This figure comprised €9.5 billion in the Directed Portfolio (the value of investments in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks held on the direction of the Minister for Finance) and €14.9 billion in the Discretionary Portfolio (the balance of the Fund excluding directed investments).

As announced on 28 November 2010, the assets of the National Pensions Reserve Fund are to be used as part of the State's €17.5 billion contribution to the €85 billion EU-IMF programme of lending to this country.

Mortgage Arrears

Denis Naughten

Question:

129 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take to address the financial pressure facing families with mortgage difficulties; the discussions, if any, he has had with Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48335/10]

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's commitments to helping families in difficulty with their mortgages and personal debt under the Renewed Programme for Government and in that context the recent work completed by the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Expert Group (Expert Group) which was set up by me last February. The Deputy will also be aware that the Expert Group produced two Reports, an Interim Report published in July 2010 and their Final Report published in November 2010. The Expert Group, which was chaired by Mr. Hugh Cooney, included Mr. Matthew Elderfield, Head of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority as well as other external experts and senior officials from Government Departments. All of the Expert Group's recommendations are listed in Chapter 2 of the Final Report and have been noted by Government. They can be accessed at www.finance.gov.ie. Since the publication of the Reports the Code of Conduct for Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) has been revised by the Central Bank to reflect many of the recommendations of the Expert Group including key recommendations relating to the introduction by all regulated lenders of a standardised Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP). The most significant changes in the revised CCMA include:

Borrowers in arrears who co-operate with the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) will not be charged penalty interest charges;

Harassment of borrowers through unsolicited communications will be outlawed;

Borrowers in financial difficulties, but not in arrears, will be allowed to come under the MARP. And

Clarifying the existing 12 month moratorium on legal action in arrears cases.

The revised CCMA was published on 6 December 2010 and came into effect on 1 January 2011. The revised CCMA can be accessed at www.centralbank.ie. Lenders are required to comply with the CCMA as a matter of law but have been given a period of six months grace ending on 30 June 2011 to put in place the requisite systems and training of staff necessary to support the implementation of the MARP. In addition the Central Bank has also written to lenders to issue directions under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 which will mean that lenders cannot impose arrears charges or penalty interest on borrowers who are co-operating with the MARP.

The Expert Group's recommendations are intended to be of benefit to both lender and borrower and it is assumed that lenders will cooperate and implement the recommendations or variations of them as soon as possible. Failure to comply with the revised CCMA may result in sanctions under the Administrative Sanctions Framework.

Lenders representing the majority of the market have already indicated their willingness to implement the Expert Group's proposals for a Deferred Interest Scheme (DIS) or a variation of it and the remaining participants will be requested to do so. The Deputy will be aware from media reports that AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS, and Irish Life and Permanent are reported to have signed up to the DIS. The DIS is to apply to those homeowners unable to pay full interest on their mortgages but able to pay at least 66%. While the DIS is voluntary for all lenders, those who have signed up in support of the scheme will be monitored by the Financial Regulator to ensure compliance.

The Deputy may wish to note that in addition to those recommendations being implemented through amendments to the CCMA, other recommendations will require legislative support involving my Department, the Departments of Social Protection (DSP), Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG), Justice and Law Reform (DJLR).

In the case of my own Department, recommendations to do with the scope and the admissibility in Court of the CCMA will be examined in the context of the preparation of the second Central Bank Bill.

In order to implement those recommendations in relation to the mortgage interest supplement scheme (MIS) changes to both primary and secondary legislation will be required. The Department of Social Protection is currently developing an implementation plan that will set out a framework for the future of the scheme.

New regulations and guidance are currently being developed by DEHLG in the context of the social housing reform programme to provide that housing authorities could disregard the household's current accommodation for the purposes of determining eligibility for social housing support. I am informed that work is ongoing on the development of a new needs assessment process which will allow an earlier trigger point for the social housing needs assessment process to take place where a case has been determined to be unsustainable in the long term, following exploration of all other options. It has already been indicated by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to the House on several occasions that he intends to give early attention to the Final Report onPersonal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement of the Law Reform Commission which was recently published. That Report contains recommendations on comprehensive reform of the system of personal insolvency law in Ireland.

As I have said the Financial Regulator was a member of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and staff in my Department are in regular contact with staff in the Central Bank on matters to do with the implementation of the Expert Group's recommendations.

Insurance Industry

Richard Bruton

Question:

130 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to tackle increases in insurance costs; the person or agency that has responsibility for their implementation; the timeframe for their implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45388/10]

I am considering how best to implement the commitment contained in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 to identify further ways to tackle increases in insurance costs. I am aware of the increased pressure on insurance premiums in recent times particularly in the household insurance area. Much of this is due to the unprecedented level of claims which the insurance industry suffered in the winter of 2009/2010. The insurance industry estimated that, between the November 2009 flooding and the big freeze at the start of 2010, they have paid out about 550 million euro worth of claims. The industry has put the level of claims in further context by indicating that the insured cost of these two weather events exceeded the total cost of all serious weather events that have occurred in the last decade. This cost was estimated at 358 million euro. A further increase in the number of claims is expected because of the recent inclement weather.

Even in advance of the weather-related claims, market analysts had identified and reported on a number of important market developments that were expected to lead to upward pressure on premiums. For example, the 2009 Standard & Poors report on the non-life insurance market warned that the next few years were likely to mark a testing time for Irish non-life insurers. In particular, the report highlighted that underwriting profitability would become much more important due, for example, to the volatility of global stock markets amongst other factors. The report noted the importance of price discipline to ensure the long-term economics of the insurance marketplace.

Finally, the Deputy might wish to note that neither the Central Bank nor I, in my role as Minister for Finance, can prohibit or restrict an insurance company from increasing its annual premium rates. This is a commercial decision for the company in question based on an assessment of the risks involved.

Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 95.

Financial Services Sector

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

132 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the date on which he intends to proceed with the disposal or merger of Irish credit institutions in which the State has a majority or controlling stake, particularly Irish Nationwide and Educational Building Society; when he expects to make a final decision on any such disposals or mergers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1398/11]

A comprehensive reorganisation and downsizing of the banking sector was agreed under the Programme of Financial Support for Ireland as part of the financial sector reform measures. The State has given an undertaking to divest the stakes it has taken in the banks due to the financial crisis within the shortest timeframe possible which is compatible with financial stability and public finance considerations. Regarding INBS, I had previously indicated in my statement of 30 September 2010 that INBS does not have a future as a stand-alone entity and will have to be sold or amalgamated with another institution. To that end proposals are under active consideration, and will shortly be submitted to the European Commission, that will provide for the resolution and work-out of INBS in a manner that will fully protect its depositors and realise the maximum value for the taxpayer from its non-NAMA assets over time.

In relation to the EBS sales process two bids are now being considered; one from Irish Life & Permanent and the other from an international consortium led by Cardinal Capital Group. The process of final negotiations with these parties is continuing and it would not be proper for me to comment further on the detail at this stage.

Proposed Legislation

Terence Flanagan

Question:

133 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance when legislation will be introduced to establish a budgetary advisory council to provide an independent assessment of the his budgetary position and forecasts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1314/11]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

138 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance his plans for the establishment of a Budgetary Advisory Council; if he plans to put this Council on a statutory footing and the date on which he intends to publish the relevant legislation; his views on the need for a Budget Commissioner or similar office to facilitate enhanced information flows necessitated by the proposed new budgetary timeline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1379/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 138 together.

In theNational Recovery Programme 2011-2014, the Government commits to the introduction of a Budget Advisory Council to provide independent assessment of the Government’s economic forecasts and proposed fiscal stance. This commitment is also reflected in the programme of support agreed with the EU and IMF.

The Government intends to bring forward a Fiscal Responsibility Bill in the near future which will provide for the establishment of the envisaged Budget Advisory Council and other matters. As the role of the envisaged Budget Advisory Council is to provide independent assessment of the Government's economic forecasts and the fiscal stance, I have no plans to provide for a Budget Commissioner or similar office as proposed by the Deputy's party.

I note that the proposed new budgetary timeline, including the publication of a Stability Programme Update in April of each year, should facilitate the Dáil and its relevant Committees in engaging more effectively with the budget formation process.

Tax Code

Dan Neville

Question:

134 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance his plans to increase the higher rate of VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1315/11]

No change in the 21% standard rate of VAT was announced in the 2011 Budget. However, as part of the National Recovery Plan, it is proposed that the standard rate of VAT will increase by 1 percentage point to 22% from 1 January 2013, with a further increase on 1 January 2014 to 23%. The combined yield from these measures is expected to be €620m in a full year and should increase inflation by 0.72%.

The VAT changes are being introduced in the second half of the period covered by the Plan. It was decided that the initial years of the Plan should focus of fiscal measures in the areas of income tax, pensions and tax expenditures. For example, some 65% of the total income tax adjustments outlined in the Plan are being made in 2011. In addition the VAT take in Ireland is already relatively high by international standards.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

135 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the amount of senior and subordinated bonds outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank as at 29 September 2008; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank as at 30 September 2008 which were covered by the bank guarantee scheme; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds in Anglo Irish Bank which matured between 30 September 2008 and 29 September 2010 and since 29 September 2010; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds in Anglo Irish Bank bought back by the bank; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds currently outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank covered by the eligible liabilities guarantee; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds currently outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank outside the scope of eligible liabilities guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1412/11]

The detailed information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tables below. Holders of subordinated debt in the bank have in particular, following the outcome of the Liability Management Exercise (LME) concluded by the bank late last year, experienced very significant burden sharing through the very deep discounts offered for these liabilities.

Date

Senior Unsecured bonds outstanding

Subordinated bonds outstanding

Additional Information

29 September 2008

€11.0 billion (EMTN, US Extendible, Schuldshein)

€.4.8 billion (Dated & Undated)

30 September 2008

€11.0 billion (EMTN, US Extendible, Schuldshein)

€2.1 billion (Dated)

Covered by Bank Guarantee Scheme

Bonds Maturing

Date

Senior Unsecured bonds matured

Subordinated bonds matured

Additional Information

Between 30 September 2008 & 29 September 2010

€14.6 billion

NIL

Since 29 September 2010

€192 million

NIL

Scheduled contractual maturities since 29 September 2010.

Liability Management Exercise

As the result of Liability Management Exercises (LMEs) performed by the bank in 2009 and 2010 the following exchanges and cancellation/early maturities have occurred since 29 September 2010:

*Voted Yes: Exchanged

**Market — Voted No or No Vote: Cancelled/ Matured

***Anglo — No Vote: Cancelled/ Matured

SUBORDINATED DEBT:

€1,504,538,500

€119,668,250

€750,793,250

*Noteholders voting yes receive consent fee.

*Bonds offered by noteholders voting yes (exchanged for ELG senior unsecured notes).

**Bonds held by noteholders who voted ‘no' or elected not to vote (bonds redeemed through the clean up call).

***Bonds held by Anglo Irish Bank Ltd following the LME process in 2009. (the bonds were cancelled as part of the LME process in December 2010.)

Outstanding

Date

Senior Unsecured bonds bought back

Subordinated bonds bought back/ exchanged

Additional Information

Between 30 September 2008 – 31 December 2010

€177.6 million

€4.1 billion

Prior to Maturity

Date

Senior Unsecured bonds

Subordinated bonds

Additional Information

Currently outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank covered by the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme

€2.9 billion

NIL

Subordinated Debt is not “covered” under the ELG Scheme

Currently outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank not covered by the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme

€3.9 billion

€768 million*

*Included in the total figure of €0.768bn of subordinated debt is the sum of €0.348bn which relates to 300,000 Non-Cumulative Preference Shares.

The inclusion of these preference shares in the bank's subordinated debt is required by accounting rules notwithstanding that they are now owned by the Minister as they remain technically a debt due to the shareholder on a winding up, albeit one ranking after all other debtors.

Note: Please note exchanges rates as at 31 December 2010 have been used where possible in order to provide a corresponding EUR equivalent.

EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support

Martin Ferris

Question:

136 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the way in which the quarterly reviews, as agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund under the Memorandum of Understanding, will be undertaken; the outcome in the event that he does not meet the terms under the review; if he will introduce any emergency budgets or measures if they have fallen short of what is expected by the EU/IMF under the terms of the package agreed by them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1408/11]

The policy conditionality associated with the EU-IMF Programme for Ireland is set out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies and in the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality. These documents together with the Technical Memorandum of Understanding which are collectively referred to as the MoU have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The position in relation to quarterly reviews is summarised in the following extract from the MoU. "The quarterly disbursement of financial assistance from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) On 28 November 2010 Eurogroup and ECOFIN Ministers issued a statement clarifying that euro-area and EU financial support will be provided on the basis of the programme which has been negotiated with the Irish authorities by the Commission and the IMF, in liaison with the ECB. Further to the Union support from the EFSM, loans from the EU and its Member States will include contributions from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and bilateral lending support from the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark. The Loan Facility Agreements on these financing contributions will specify that the disbursements thereunder are subject to the compliance with the conditions of this Memorandum will be subject to quarterly reviews of conditionality for the duration of the programme. Release of the instalments will be based on observance of quantitative performance criteria, respect for EU Council Decisions and Recommendations in the context of the excessive deficit procedure, and a positive evaluation of progress made with respect to policy criteria in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) and in this Memorandum of Understanding on specific economic policy conditionality (MoU), which specifies the detailed criteria that will be assessed for the successive reviews up to the end of 2013. If targets are (expected to be) missed, additional action will be taken.

The authorities commit to consult with the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF on the adoption of policies that are not consistent with this Memorandum. They will also provide the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF with all information requested that is available to monitor progress during programme implementation and to track the economic and financial situation. Prior to the release of the instalments, the authorities shall provide a compliance report on the fulfilment of the conditionality."

As the Government is committed to ensuring compliance with the policy conditionality of the MoU, the question of emergency budgets or measures is not at present envisaged.

Official Engagements

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

137 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Finance if he proposes to meet the German Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel, to discuss her recent comments in relation to sovereign States debt levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43320/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, there is an ongoing debate at European level in relation to sovereign debt levels and how these might be reduced. While I am aware of the Chancellor's views, I do not currently have any plans to meet with Chancellor Merkel in relation to the matter mentioned by the Deputy. However, I am in regular contact with my European colleagues, including the German Finance Minister Herr Schåuble, through the monthly Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings of Finance Ministers. Similarly, the Taoiseach meets Chancellor Merkel, and the other European Heads of State, at the regular Council of Minister meetings. These fora offer regular opportunities for emerging proposals and issues to be discussed both formally and informally.

Question No. 138 answered with Question No. 133.

Banking Charges

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

139 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if additional banking charges, such as those recently announced by the Bank of Ireland, are referred to him for consultation or approval prior to being passed on to the customer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1136/11]

I have no function in the approval of banking charges. This is a matter for the Central Bank, which has statutory responsibility in this area. Under section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, banks may only impose charges up to the maximum levels approved by the Central Bank. Where a bank has exempted customers who meet certain criteria from charges, and subsequently change the criteria, there is no requirement for any subsequent notification to, or approval by, the Central Bank provided the charges are within the permitted limits.

Any proposed changes to charges or qualifying criteria must be notified to customers in advance. In the case of current accounts the minimum notice period is two months and must be in accordance with terms and conditions of the account.

Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, applies to credit institutions, money transmitters and bureaux de change.

Question No. 140 answered with Question No. 97.

Departmental Expenditure

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance to indicate the extent, if any, to which he and or his Department has monitored significant over or under spending for the end of year 2010 in the respective Departments; the reasons given for any such variation emerging; if any further action is contemplated in the event of further departure from budgetary targets in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1363/11]

Current spending was 0.6% or €231 million above profile and capital expenditure was -1.4% or -€82 million below profile.

Brian Hayes

Question:

142 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Taoiseach the cost to his Department from 2007 in respect of providing all computer, hardware and software, in his private and constituency office in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48162/10]

The cost to my Department from 2007 in respect of providing all computer, hardware and software, in my private and constituency offices is set out below.

Year

Private Office

Constituency Office (in DOT)

Constituency Office (in Tullamore)

2007

€7,214.02

Nil

Nil

2008

€559.02

€3,429.75

Nil

2009

Nil

Nil

Nil

2010

Nil

Nil

Nil

The costs outlined above are in respect of PCs allocated to staff in these offices during a Department-wide desktop refresh, the purchase of a scanner and the replacement of a printer.

No new hardware or software was supplied to my Constituency Office in Tullamore. Any hardware replaced in this office was replaced with items with a Nil asset value from existing pre-used stock.

Joan Burton

Question:

143 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach the details of any standing arrangements or contact between him and a company (details supplied) for the purpose of carrying out cost-benefit analysis on policy changes; the total sum paid in respect of any such arrangement in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48178/10]

Joan Burton

Question:

144 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will set out any sum of money paid by his Department to a company (details supplied) in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48192/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 and 144 together.

In 2010, following a public tender process, Indecon International Economic Consultants were awarded the contract to provide technical economic assistance to officials in Government Departments conducting Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIAs) and other technical exercises relating to the Better Regulation agenda. The aim is to help Departments improve the quality of the quantitative assessment of legislative proposals.

In the OECD Report on Better Regulation in Ireland (November 2010), the OECD recognised the need to improve the quality of quantitative analysis conducted in this context and to make greater use of this support. An earlier independent Review of the Operation of RIA, which was published in 2008, also recommended maintaining this support for Departments. Departments must seek the prior approval of the Department of the Taoiseach to avail of this support. In 2010, €13,929.70 was spent under this contract.

Separately, in 2007, following a tender process, Indecon International Economic Consultants conducted a review of the Irish Annuities Market. The Review was undertaken under the auspices of the Partnership Pensions Review Group comprising of representatives of Government Departments, the Pensions Board, IBEC and ICTU, and established under the terms of Towards 2016. The report of this review was published in October 2007. The cost of this review was €133,100.

Departmental Websites

Liz McManus

Question:

145 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Taoiseach the number and cost of each website that falls under his remit; the number of unique visitors per month to each website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48210/10]

My Department has 8 websites.

Department of the Taoiseach Websites

Site

Annual Support & Maintenance Charges

www.taoiseach.gov.ie

1,815.00

www.onegov.ie (formerly www.bettergov.ie)

1,815.00

www.betterregulation.ie

1,815.00

www.orp.ie

1,815.00

www.activecitizenship.ie

1,815.00

www.inp.ie

NIL

1www.forumoneurope.ie

NIL

www.merrionstreet.ie

2NIL

1 The www.forumoneurope.ie website is no longer active but will continue to be available as an information resource.

2 There is no annual support and maintenance charge in respect of merrionstreet.ie. Ongoing technical maintenance and support of the site is being provided by staff in my Department’s IT Unit with support from an external web services company on an “as needs” basis .

In addition to the above costs the total cost of hosting all eight sites for 2010 was €17,834.

Number of Unique Visits

SITE

Number of Unique Visits

www.taoiseach.gov.ie

8,115

www.onegov.ie (formerly www.bettergov.ie)

2,235

www.betterregulation.ie

1,002

www.orp.ie

310

www.activecitizenship.ie

411

www.inp.ie

633

*www.forumoneurope.ie

www.merrionstreet.ie

9,943

National Economic and Social Development Office Websites The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), which includes its constituent body the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), comes under the aegis of my Department. There are five websites in operation in the NESDO.

Site

Annual Support & Maintenance Charges

www.nesdo.ie

2,893.00

www.nesc.ie

726.00

www.nesf.ie

nil

www.ncpp.ie

nil

www.futuresireland.ie

nil

In addition to the above costs the total cost of hosting all five sites for 2010 was €99.28.

Following the dissolution in April 2010 of two constituent bodies of the NESDO, the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) and National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP), NESDO is reducing its websites to one. This work is currently under way. This website will include both NESDO and NESC, and will also incorporate pages from the websites of the former bodies, the NESF and NCPP, as well as the Futures Ireland Website.

Number of Unique Visits

SITE

Number of Unique Visits Per Month

www.nesdo.ie

25

www.nesc.ie

1,050

www.nesf.ie

150

www.ncpp.ie

50

www.futuresireland.ie

475

Citizen Honours System

Finian McGrath

Question:

146 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach if he will examine again the proposal to introduce the honours system in Ireland in order to honour citizens that have made a positive contribution to Irish society. [48270/10]

I believe that the introduction of a national honours system would require all-party agreement if it were to proceed.

As you are aware from previous replies, my predecessor, who shared this view, wrote to the main opposition party leaders in 1999, with a view to initiating discussions on the matter. It was evident, however, that there was not the cross-party support at the time to proceed with such a scheme. He wrote to party leaders in relation to this matter again in 2007 but not all the parties responded.

The timing of any further approach to opposition party leaders would have to take cognisance of other political priorities at the time.

Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 1.

Performance Management Systems

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

148 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the performance management systems implemented in his Department as specified in the Public Service Agreement 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48322/10]

A Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) was introduced for the Civil Service, including my Department, in 2000 and has been subject to ongoing evaluation and improvement since then. In 2002, the system was expanded to include Upward Feedback, and in 2005 agreement was reached between management and staff unions to integrate PMDS with wider HR policies and processes from 1 January 2007. Under this agreement, PMDS appraisals and ratings were linked directly to promotions, increments and higher scale posts. This integrated system has been operating in my Department since then.

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 contains a commitment ‘to introduce significantly improved performance management across all Public Service areas, and following the current review, the Performance Management and Development System will be strengthened with promotion and incremental progression linked in all cases to performance and the implementation of appropriate systems to address under-performance, including, where appropriate, training or, where necessary, through disciplinary procedures'.

In the civil service, work is well under way on achieving this goal. The 2010 evaluation of PMDS has been completed, and negotiations have begun with the unions in relation to how PMDS can be strengthened. My Department is committed to implementing initiatives which may arise from these negotiations.

Departmental Staff

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

149 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the number of staff working within his Department who are employed on a short-term, temporary or consultative basis in the years 2009, 2010; the costs of payment to such staff in each of those years; the number of any such staff who have been previously employed in the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48323/10]

The information sought by the Deputy regarding the number of staff employed by my Department on a short term, temporary or consultative basis and the payments made to them in 2009 and 2010 is set out in the table below. The figures mentioned do not include political appointees or staff seconded to my Department on a temporary basis from other Departments or other parts of the public service. According to my Department's records only one of the five staff concerned was previously employed in the public service.

Year

Number Employed

Cost

2009

2

3,435.44

2010

3

35,119.50

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

150 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the amount spent by his Department on opinion polling and focus group research in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1180/11]

No money was spent by my Department on opinion polling and focus group research in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

151 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the number of mobile telephones paid for by public bodies under his remit in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1195/11]

There is currently one public body under the aegis of my Department, the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO). The number of mobile telephones paid for by NESDO in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years is set out below.

Year

Number of Mobile Phones

Cost of paying mobile telephone bills

2006

16

11,109

2007

16

10,752

2008

17

9,022

2009

16

9,877

2010

9

8,634

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

152 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the number of mobile telephones paid for by his Department in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1210/11]

The number of mobile devices paid for by my Department in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and the total cost of paying mobile device bills in each of those years is set out below.

Year

Number of mobile devices

Cost of paying mobile device bills

2006

209

150,502

2007

232

167,415

2008

238

200,192

2009

167

108,442

2010

159

85,214

The figures above are in respect of all mobile devices i.e. Mobile Phones, Blackberries and Mobile Connect Cards.

Unemployment Levels

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

153 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Taoiseach the latest unemployment figures in respect of Tallaght social welfare office in Dublin 24. [1291/11]

The Live Register series gives a monthly breakdown of the number of people claiming Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance and other registrants as registered with the Department of Social Protection. Figures are published for each county and local social welfare office.

The most recent Live Register figures available are for December 2010. The table below contains the numbers signing on in Tallaght local office on the last Friday of December 2010.

It should be noted that the Live Register is not a definitive measure of unemployment as it includes part-time workers, and seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseekers Benefit or Allowance.

Office of the Attorney General

Alan Shatter

Question:

154 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Taoiseach in respect of the past five years if he will detail the number of court cases initiated against the State defended by the Office of the Attorney General; the number of such cases lost by the State upon completion of the litigation process; the number of cases won by the State; the number of cases settled; the number of cases not pursued or withdrawn by the plaintiff and the number of such cases currently outstanding before the courts. [1593/11]

The information requested by the Deputy in this question is being compiled by the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor and will be forwarded to him as soon as possible.

Alan Shatter

Question:

155 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Taoiseach the arrangements which exist within the Attorney General’s Office for the selection and appointment of counsel to represent the State in litigation; the names of those counsels in each of the past five years who have been instructed by the State and the fees paid to them in each of the past five years. [1594/11]

The information requested by the Deputy in this question is being compiled by the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor and will be forwarded to him as soon as possible.

Alan Shatter

Question:

156 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Taoiseach the circumstances, if any, in which the Attorney General’s office in each of the past five years sought advice from or instructed a private firm of solicitors to represent the State or provide legal advices on any legal matter for the benefit of the State; the arrangements or protocols currently in place to facilitate the obtaining of such advice, the names of such firms from where such advice was sought or representation obtained and the fees paid to them in each of the past five years. [1595/11]

The information requested by the Deputy in this question is being compiled by the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor and will be forwarded to him as soon as possible.

Legal Services

Alan Shatter

Question:

157 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Taoiseach in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 the arrangements entered into by his Department for the obtaining of advice from a firm of solicitors and or from senior or junior counsel; in each case the subject matter in respect of which advices were sought, the name of the solicitors firm and or barristers concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned, that is, whether it involved the drafting of legislation or the obtaining of legal advices; whether in each case the matter concerned was advertised for tender and where not, why not. [1627/11]

Alan Shatter

Question:

159 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Taoiseach with regard to legal services used by his Department, any Body under the aegis of his Department and any State agency for which he is responsible; if he will give details of the legal services of which there has been competitive tendering in each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; the legal firm in each case that furnished advice with regard to any such tendering and assisted in the preparation of tender documents and in each case to detail the solicitors firm who succeeded in each tendering process, the nature of the work for which each firm successfully tendered and the fees paid for any such advice or assistance to each firm for work for which it tendered. [1657/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 159 together.

My Department did not obtain legal advice from a firm of solicitors or from Senior or Junior Counsel, other than through the Office of the Attorney General, during the period in question.

In 2006, the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), which is the only agency under the aegis of my Department, conducted a competitive tendering process for the provision of legal advice and the contract was awarded to Mason Hayes Curran. Expenditure on legal services by NESDO in 2008 amounted to €18,001.29. The details are set out in the following table:

Body

Reason for Procurement

Fees paid

NESDO

Legal advice re procurement of NESDO IT System

336.50

National Economic and Social Forum (NESF)

Legal advice on recruitment

9,081.38

National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

Legal advice on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean Economic and Social Development Commission

841.25

National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP)

Legal advice on National Workplace Surveys contracts for ESRI and Amarach

7,742.16

There was no expenditure on legal services by NESDO in 2009 or 2010.

Legal Proceedings

Alan Shatter

Question:

158 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Taoiseach in respect of each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 if he will give details of the number of court cases initiated in each year in which he or his predecessor was named as a defendant; the number of such cases in each year initiated in the District Court, Circuit Court or High Court; the nature of the proceedings taken, for example, the number of cases in which damages were claimed; judicial review was sought of decisions made or were constitutional challenges and so on; whether in all such cases legal representation was provided by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and if not, by whom; if he will detail the legal costs incurred by his Department in each of the said years in respect of any such litigation and to provide a breakdown of same including details of fees paid to solicitors and barristers; to detail the number of cases in each of the aforesaid years that were lost and in respect of which he or the State was ordered to pay the plaintiff’s costs and the amount of costs so paid in each of the aforesaid years. [1642/11]

In 2008, proceedings were initiated by Derek Byrne, Margaret McNicholl & Justice for the Forgotten to seek access to the files of the McEntee Commission of Investigation — which are held, sealed, in my Department. In defending this case the State is honouring commitments of confidentiality given by Mr. McEntee in the course of his inquiries. The case is currently before the High Court and representation is being provided by the Chief State Solicitor's Office.

In 2009, proceedings were initiated by John Burke in the High Court, to bring judicial review proceedings in respect of a proposal to hold a constitutional referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on 2 October, 2009.

The High Court found in favour of the State on 3 September, 2009. Legal representation for the State was provided by the Chief State Solicitor's Office. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court. On 22 September, the Supreme Court concurred with the High Court and ruled in favour of the State. Costs were awarded to the State following the High Court proceedings, but not in the case of the Supreme Court proceedings. Details as follows:

High Court

Solicitor's fees — €6,250.

Barristers fees — €13,974.86.

Supreme Court

Barristers fees — €12,973.62.

Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 157.

FÁS Training Programmes

Phil Hogan

Question:

160 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 75 of 25 November 2010, if she will provide further details of the new training and internship proposal under consideration by the Government for the unemployed, including unemployed graduates; the source of this proposal; its operating arrangements, scope and providers; the projected number of participants; the proposed funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48106/10]

My Department has proposed and the Government has approved the Skills Development and Internship Programme which is a new enterprise-led labour market activation initiative aimed at those who are at least three months unemployed. This programme aims to enable the unemployed maintain their links with the labour market while also facilitating their upskilling and reskilling, thereby improving their employability.

It is intended that the maximum duration for participants on the programme will be 15 months, which will comprise of a 12 month placement with host organisations in the private or community and voluntary sectors and the potential for a further 3 months to facilitate education and training. By providing a 12 month placement coupled with a substantial education and training offering it is intended that the programme will provide a structured pathway to employment for those who are unemployed.

Firms who participate in the programme will contribute €150 per week per participant that they place. This will be used to finance the costs of the programme. The Government has also allocated €5m in Budget 2011 towards the costs of the programme.

FÁS will have responsibility for managing the programme. Participants on the programme who are in receipt of social welfare benefits will continue to receive an allowance equivalent to their social welfare entitlement. Participants will also receive an ‘Upskilling Bonus' of €100 per week during the actual 12 month placement phase of the programme.

The success of the programme will be entirely dependent on enterprises embracing the programme and offering quality placements to the unemployed. The Government have made provision for up to 5,000 places to be supported under this programme; however, this is subject to the level of interest and uptake by enterprises.

Operational details of the programme are currently being prepared and it is expected that the programme will be operational towards the end of the first quarter of 2011.

Further Education

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

161 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a certificate (details supplied) is fully recognised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48117/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

162 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a certificate (details supplied) is not a fully recognised certificate, if a student currently on the course and in receipt of a back to education allowance can proceed to another FETAC level 6 course and still be in receipt of the back to education allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48118/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

163 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a student on passing examinations from a course (details supplied) can then proceed to a degree course with the certificate achieved from the course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48119/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 to 163, inclusive, together.

My Department has requested information in relation to the certificate mentioned by the Deputy and will respond directly to the Deputy when this information is to hand.

In relation to the Back To Education Allowance, this allowance is a Department of Social Protection second-chance education opportunities scheme designed to encourage and facilitate people on certain social welfare payments to improve their skills and qualifications and therefore, their prospects of returning to the workforce. Eligibility for, and the payment structure of the BTEA is determined and administered by the Department of Social Protection and is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) including universities, institutes of technology and private colleges are autonomous institutions. They are also academically independent and reserve the right to determine the criteria for admission to any course run by the institution. It is therefore a matter for individual institutions to determine whether a student meets the eligibility criteria laid down by the institution.

The position is that students with appropriate FETAC Level 5/6 (NCVA Level 2/3) qualifications and modules may be admitted on a competitive basis to certain degree programmes run by third level institutions. In addition to the minimum entry requirements specific Higher Certificate and Ordinary Degree courses may have specific FETAC module or FETAC award requirements which are listed in individual institution prospectuses. In certain institutions a quota of places is reserved for applicants presenting FETAC level 5/6 awards. Such applicants are assessed separately from all other applicants.

Applicants presenting FETAC Awards should contact the relevant HEI to establish how FETAC awards are assessed and to obtain information on eligibility and the admissions process for the course they wish to apply for.

School Transport

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

164 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if school pupils with bus passes in rural areas where school buses are not currently running because of icy and snow-covered roads, may use their tickets to avail of Bus Éireann services to travel to schools in areas where parents can travel to the nearest pick-up town or village; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48127/10]

Bus Éireann operates the school transport services on behalf of my Department, while the operation of Bus Éireann public passenger services does not come under the remit of my Department.

The organisation of school transport services is a major logistical operation which involves the planning of bus routes in such a way as to ensure that, as far as possible, eligible pupils have a reasonable level of service while, at the same time, ensuring that school transport vehicles are fully utilised in an efficient and cost effective manner. Safety of children travelling on the school transport services is of paramount importance to my Department and to Bus Éireann.

Bus Éireann informed local and national media of developments regarding availability of services during the latest severe weather event and is also part of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination Committee that managed the response.

Parents of eligible pupils who are affected by adverse weather conditions, as detailed by the Deputy, should liaise with the school authorities and the local Bus Éireann office regarding school openings and the availability of school transport services. Bus Éireann has advised that tickets issued under the School Transport Scheme are not general commuter style bus tickets for use on multiple services, but instead offer a seat on a specific service to and from school.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

165 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if parents of school students who pay €300 per annum for school bus tickets will have a portion of the money refunded in rural areas where school buses have been unable to access for almost three weeks now due to recent snow and ice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48128/10]

The school transport scheme, which is operated by Bus Éireann on my Department's behalf, facilitates the transportation of over 123,000 children to primary and post-primary schools each day including approximately 8,000 children with special educational needs.

School transport is a very significant national operation involving about 42 million journeys and over 82 million kilometres on 6,000 routes every school year. This service is delivered using a mix of BE, both school transport and road passenger vehicles, private contractor vehicles including private operator scheduled services, and Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, DART and LUAS where practical.

Post Primary pupils who are eligible for school transport under the terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme pay €300 per annum subject to a maximum family charge of €650. Eligible pupils who hold valid medical cards are exempt from these charges.

These payments represent a contribution towards the overall cost of school transport and do not reflect the true economic cost of providing school transport services. There is no provision, within the terms of the scheme, to consider refunding a portion of these charges in the circumstances outlined by the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Brian Hayes

Question:

166 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the cost to her Department from 2007 in respect of providing all computer, hardware and software, in her private and constituency office in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48154/10]

Staff in Ministerial offices in my Department are equipped with a standard suite of computer hardware and software including a PC, access to a printer, network connectivity, standard office software and business applications to support their work similar to all other staff and exact costs for all aspects of the service are not readily available.

Computer equipment in the Minister's private office in the Department's Head Office does not change substantially on change of Minister. However, new equipment and services may be necessary depending on the location of the Minister's constituency.

My Department's records indicate that the cost to the Department of providing all computer hardware and software in Ministerial private and constituency offices from 2007 was:

€7,083 in 2007,

€4,771 in 2008,

€552 in 2009 and

€9,906 in 2010.

Joan Burton

Question:

167 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will set out any sum of money paid by her Department to a company (details supplied) in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48184/10]

The amount of money paid by my Department during the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 to Indecon is outlined in a tabular statement.

The 2006 payment relates to the development of guidelines and a template in respect of Cost-Benefit Analyses as required under the "Guidelines for the Appraisal and Management of Capital Expenditure Proposals in the Public Sector".

The 2008 and 2010 payments relate to the preparation of evaluation reports on EU-funded programmes by Indecon on behalf of the Department and in accordance with European Commission requirements.

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

€73,205.00

NIL

€104,084.20

NIL

€59,283.96

Departmental Websites

Liz McManus

Question:

168 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number and cost of each website that falls under her remit; the number of unique visitors per month to each website; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48202/10]

The annual cost of maintaining my Department's website in 2010 was €25,684.50. This figure incorporates the cost of an annual maintenance contract, a search engine licence and the Department's contribution to the Local Government Computer Services Board (LGCSB) for hosting the website. There were on average 55,031 unique visitors to this website per month last year.

To expedite claims and streamline the application process for the Energy Efficiency Scheme announced in May 2009 (this scheme is now closed) a new website www.energyeducation.ie was developed in partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The cost involved in setting up and maintaining this website in 2008 was €35,315.26. In 2010 the annual cost of maintaining the site was €12,095.16. There were on average 1,012 unique visitors to this website per month last year. As the Deputy will be aware the European Social Funds Unit transferred from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (D/ETI) to my Department in May 2010. In 2010 €1,084.25 was spent on an associated website www.esf.ie. There were on average 893 unique visitors to this website per month last year.

In addition the Early Years Education Policy Unit of my Department pays annual recurring fees totalling approximately €315 in order to retain two websites on-line. The www.cecde.ie website relates to the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education which ceased operations in 2008, while the www.siolta.ie website relates to Síolta — The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education in Ireland. Monthly Figures for the number of unique visitors to these two sites is not readily available.

Higher Education Grants

Billy Timmins

Question:

169 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a third level grant appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if this case can be re examined and awarded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48239/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that an appeal was received by my Department on 17/11/10 from the student to which he refers in relation to an unsuccessful application for a student grant.

The appeal was examined and a decision issued to the student on 18/11/2010.

The original decision of the awarding authority was upheld as the reckonable income in this case exceeded the income limits prescribed for grant eligibility in the applicable grant scheme.

Third Level Staff

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

170 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a breakdown of academic and non-academic staff employed for each individual institution, in all of the seven universities, all higher education authority designated colleges and all the institutes of technology during the periods December 2008, December 2009 and December 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48284/10]

Data are available on the numbers of academics and non-academics employed at the end of 2008 and 2009 and are given in the table below. The latest data for December, 2010 are being collated currently and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The figures show a reduction in staffing numbers across the institutions since 2008 in line with the Government's recruitment and promotion moratorium. The purpose of the Government decision to implement a recruitment and promotion moratorium in the public sector is to facilitate a permanent, structural reduction in the numbers of staff serving in the public sector and is intended to contribute significant and ongoing savings to the Exchequer.

In the area of higher education, the Government agreed that an Employment Control Framework (ECF) be developed to provide for the application of the moratorium arrangements to higher education institutions, subject to the continued oversight and review by the HEA and both my Department and the Department of Finance. The Government is anxious to work with the publicly funded higher education institutions in achieving necessary reductions in public expenditure within the sector as an essential part of overall budgetary strategy. The ECF aims to enable this while providing some flexibility around recruitment in the filling of posts. It is a matter for the individual higher education institutions to manage their staffing resources in the context of implementing the framework.

The framework, covering the period up to 31 December, 2010, required the higher education institutions to achieve a minimum 6% reduction in the number of overall core staff by the end of 2010 as compared with the numbers in place at 31 December 2008. The recently published National Recovery Plan includes provision for the application across the public service of an updated ECF, covering the period 2011 to 2014, aimed at significantly reducing the overall public sector paybill. Details of the specific application of the ECF in the education area are being finalised at present.

University and other designated HEA Colleges — Academic — V — Non Academic

UCD

UCC

NUIG

NUIM

TCD

UL

DCU

MIC

SPD

NCAD

MDI

St Ang

Total

December 2008

Academic

1,190.03

781.30

780.54

262.00

757.92

522.00

501.77

136.31

145.50

78.00

27.00

58.00

5,240.37

Non-Academic

1,561.69

1,130.70

889.80

319.00

1,133.79

577.00

441.66

129.00

81.45

72.20

19.35

60.00

6,415.64

December 2009

Academic

1,084.49

742.11

757.12

255.50

709.76

510.20

484.80

134.09

141.00

73.20

26.00

52.50

4,970.77

Non-Academic

1,483.44

1,081.14

841.53

308.50

1,092.54

555.00

426.10

133.36

79.05

74.30

17.35

57.50

6,149.81

UCD = Univesity College Dublin; DCU= Dublin City University; UCC= University College Cork; MIC = Mary Immaculate College, Limerick; NUIG= National University of Ireland, Galway; SPD = St. Patricks Training College, Drumcondra; NUIM= National University of Ireland, Maynooth; NCAD= National College of Art and Design, Dublin; TCD= Trinity College Dublin; MDI=Mater Dei Institute, Dublin; UL= University of Limerick; St. Ang = St Angela's College, Sligo.

Institutes of Technology Staff — Academic — V — Non Academic

Athlone

ITB

Carlow

Cork

Dublin

Dundalk

DLIADT

GMIT

LKIT

LIT

Sligo

Tallaght

Tralee

WIT

Total

December 2008

Academic

272.20

119.93

221.79

656.17

953.73

299.50

128.33

394.05

197.53

307.73

301.00

211.58

226.10

579.38

4869.02

Non-Academic

274.30

82.67

157.01

353.49

1,172.37

243.90

87.88

311.53

143.72

200.57

187.00

156.03

141.80

508.42

4,020.69

December 2009

Academic

255.49

134.42

211.62

608.34

1,110.91

290.75

119.72

372.14

177.66

307.26

294.00

208.21

211.62

540.41

4,842.55

Non-Academic

248.79

83.13

146.09

346.73

940.39

231.61

86.27

297.29

177.62

200.30

176.00

148.02

131.28

423.35

3,636.87

ITB= Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown; DLIADT= Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design; GMIT= Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology; LKIT= Limerick Institute of Technology; LIT= Letterkenny Institute of Technology; WIT= Waterford Institute of Technology.

Other 3rd Level Institutes — Academic — V — Non Academic Staff

TRBDI

DIAS

RIA

RIAM

DDH

CoE

December 2008

Academic

53.40

49.00

61.00

45.00

55.60

62.30

Non-Academic

75.70

30.00

29.25

23.00

87.40

31.70

December 2009

Academic

52.90

46.00

57.50

44.00

54.61

56.70

Non-Academic

68.02

32.50

27.25

25.20

83.39

43.30

TRBDI = Tipperary Rural Business Development Institute; DIAS = Dublin Institute for Advanced; RIA = Royal Irish Academy; RIAM = Royal Irish Academy of Music; DDH = Dublin Dental Hospital; CoE = Colleges of Education (not under the Higher Education Authority).

FÁS Training Programmes

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

171 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if it is possible for teachers to complete the probationary diploma year with the new voluntary scheme for teachers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48304/10]

My Department issued circular 66/2010 which permits schools to participate in the FÁS Work Placement Programme (WPP) if they so wish.

In the event that primary teachers in a placement under the FÁS Work Placement Programme can meet the conditions associated with the operation of the primary probationary process as outlined in circular 58/2010, there will be nothing to preclude them from applying to be probated.

The probationary process must be completed satisfactorily by teachers if they are to fulfil the conditions of their registration with the Teaching Council, the body with statutory responsibility for the registration of teachers in Ireland. The probationary period ends when the Teaching Council is satisfied that both the service requirement and the professional competence requirement are fully met.

The Inspectorate of my Department evaluate the professional competence of teachers for the purposes of informing the Teaching Council's decisions regarding the registration of primary teachers and set down the criteria used in the inspection of the work of teachers. Limerick Education Centre administers the probationary process on behalf of the Inspectorate and applications for the evaluation of the professional competence aspect of the probationary process should be made to this Centre in the first instance.

School Accommodation

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

172 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has received correspondence from a school (details supplied); if she has agreed to lease a new premises for this school on a 12-year lease; if she will issue a written commitment to this effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48324/10]

My Department advised the school authority in August 2010 that it was not in a position to grant aid the relocation of the school in question to another property. In reaching this decision, my Department considered the costs associated with a relocation together with the fact that a building project is being advanced which will provide a permanent solution for the long term accommodation needs of the school. An improved rental quotation for the property in question was recently submitted by the school authority to my Department. The proposal is being assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority in due course.

The Deputy will be aware that a new school building is being provided for the school in question. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department expects to commence the tender process for the appointment of a Design Team for the project in the near future. My officials will be in contact with the school authority in this regard at that point.

FÁS Training Programmes

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

173 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if there are any circumstances, where a person on a FÁS training course and who is not in receipt of a social welfare payment can receive a training allowance from FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48332/10]

In Budget 2010, in order to maximise the impact of budgets for training the unemployed, the Government decided to cease the payment of FÁS training allowance to new entrants to FÁS training courses who are not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit/Allowance. Since February 2010, participants must confirm their entitlement to Jobseekers Benefit/Allowance with the Department of Social Protection prior to commencing a FÁS course.

FÁS training courses are open to all unemployed persons. However, if a participant is not entitled to Jobseekers Benefit/Allowance from the Department of Social Protection at the commencement of the course, then he/she does not receive a FÁS training allowance.

There are some exceptions. For example, those whose entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit ceases during their participation on a FÁS course retain their allowance until the end of the course. Also, those under 18 who continue on a course after the age of 18 (mainly early school-leavers in Community Training Centre's) retain their allowance without having to prove their entitlement to Jobseekers Allowance/Job Seekers Benefit.

Departmental Contracts

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

174 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the criteria for the decision in 2008 to appoint a company (details supplied) as the provider of occupation health services to her Department; the tendering process employed to make this appointment; the other companies who tendered for this work; the fee per consultation paid by her to the company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48413/10]

A contract to provide an occupational health service for teachers was awarded in 2008. My Department sought proposals on the open market for the provision of the service and, as a result of an EU competitive tendering process, the successful company was selected based on the following criteria: Expertise and Skills Cost of Providing Service Quality and Technical Merit Management and Service Structure.

Fees paid to the company are not based on a per consultation basis but rather are based on a fixed annual rate.

Five other companies participated in the tender and I will arrange to have the details of those companies forwarded to the Deputy.

School Catchment Areas

Finian McGrath

Question:

175 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the school catchment area in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15. [48422/10]

The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. In this regard a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a board of management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Vocational Educational Committee or to the Secretary General of my Department.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

School Services Staff

Finian McGrath

Question:

176 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if he will support a matter regarding a school (details supplied). [48524/10]

The Boards of Management of schools are responsible for the employment of school secretaries and it is a matter for each school to determine the level of secretarial and caretaking needs required for the school. Funding to cater for these needs is made available from my Department under two separate schemes.

One is the 1978/79 scheme under which my Department meets the full cost of salary and the school secretaries are paid directly through my Department's payroll. The 1978/79 scheme is being phased out as posts become vacant and no new posts are being created.

The 1978/79 scheme has been superseded by a more extensive school support grant scheme towards the funding of ancillary services in schools including secretarial services. The scheme is flexible in nature giving Boards of Management and schools discretion as to the manner in which these services are provided. In relation to the application of Circular 0070/2010 in schools, I would like to point out that the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009 (the Act) determined the criteria for reducing the pay of public servants with effect from January 2010. However, when the Act was introduced, there was a question as to how a public servant should be determined for the purposes of this Act. Subsequently, following receipt of legal advice, it has now been determined that all staff employed by a recognised school or VEC come within the definition of "public servant" solely for the purposes of the Act.

In view of the time lapse involved in reaching a determination on this issue, the Minister for Finance has allowed for a temporary exemption from the application of the Act for certain categories of public servants up until 31 December 2010.

Accordingly, my Department outlined that adjustments in salary should be applied with effect from 1 January 2011, to all relevant staff in the employment of recognised schools or VECs, who were not already affected by the pay reductions introduced under the Act. One of the categories of staff affected by Circular 0070/2010 was school secretaries.

Special Educational Needs

Phil Hogan

Question:

177 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a special needs assistant will be provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48570/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating 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.

In considering applications for teaching and SNA support for individual pupils, the SENOs take account of the needs identified in the professional reports and decide whether the circumstances come within the Department's criteria. They then consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupil from its current level of resources. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Schools Refurbishment

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

178 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if funding is available from any source in her Department for the refurbishing of windows at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin. [1003/11]

The scope of works required at the school to which the Deputy refers is appropriate for consideration under the Summer Works Scheme.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I announced details of the Summer Works Scheme for 2011 on 17 December last. Full details, including the application form, are available on my Department's website www.education.ie. The closing date for receipt of applications under the Scheme is 21 January 2011.

I wish to point out, however, that in the current budgetary climate, it will not be possible to fund all applications received and therefore schools should only apply for those projects of an urgent and priority nature.

Higher Education Grants

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

179 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a higher education grant will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1037/11]

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.

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.

No appeal has been received by my Department to date from the candidate referred to by the Deputy.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

180 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the cost of setting up a special needs, autism unit in a second level school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1038/11]

The construction cost for a special needs/autism unit will vary from project to project depending on a number of factors such as site conditions, the project brief, etc. However, the indicative capital cost for a special needs/autism unit would be circa €750,000 to €1,000,000.

School Transport

Joe McHugh

Question:

181 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 109 to 112, inclusive, of 16 December 2010, if she will acknowledge that the changed system will greatly reduce the number of pupils attending certain schools (details supplied); if she will review the changes in order to ensure that such schools will not be damaged in this way; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1065/11]

The Department of Education and Skills assesses school accommodation needs in each area based on local demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and the capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places.

As I outlined in my previous reply of 16 December, from the beginning of the 2011/2012 school year, as an initial step following changes in relation to school transport arising from a Value for Money Review of School Transport, which were announced in the 2011 budget, the distance criteria will be applied to all pupils attending primary schools and the exemption under the closed school rule will cease. This means that children categorised for transport under the CSR who reside less than 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) from the school of attendance and who are availing of free transport to that school under the CSR will lose transport eligibility.

All remaining children in this category, who meet requisite distance criteria, will continue to retain school transport eligibility. A sample survey undertaken as part of the Value for Money Review on transport arrangements for pupils availing of transport under the CSR showed that the majority of pupils are in fact attending their nearest open school. This survey did not include the areas identified by the Deputy. In cases where the school of attendance is not the nearest school, these pupils will continue to retain school transport eligibility until they complete their education at that school. Transitional school transport arrangements will therefore remain in place for a reducing number of pupils over a maximum period of seven years until this group of children have all completed their primary education.

From the 2012/2013 school year, full implementation of the change will mean eligibility based on the closed school rule and the central school rule will cease nationally for all new children entering primary schools.

The detailed arrangements for the 2011/2012 school year in the areas identified by the Deputy can only be established when the applications for transport are made and considered.

Joe McHugh

Question:

182 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 109 to 112, inclusive, of 16 December 2010, if she will acknowledge that the new system will reduce the numbers of students travelling on certain school buses to below the ten pupil threshold; if she will explain the way in which she will transport these students to school when this arises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1066/11]

Changes in relation to school transport, arising from the Value for Money Review of School Transport, were announced in the 2011 budget. These changes include, with effect from the 2011/2012 school year, the application of the distance criteria to all pupils attending primary schools and the ceasing of the exemption under the closed school rule which as a consequence will mean that pupils residing less than 3.2 kms from the school of attendance will lose their transport eligibility, discontinuation of services under the revised minimum number of eligible pupils (10) and the pick up density of eligible pupils residing in a distinct locality required to establish a school transport service will increase from 7 to 10. With effect from the 2012/2013 school year, eligibility based on the closed school rule will cease for all new primary children entering primary schools and the catchment boundary system will cease for all new post primary children. These changes will mean that there will be a reduction in the number of eligible pupils in 2011 as a result of the application of the distance criteria for all primary pupils and there will also be a reduction in the number of school buses arising from the changes in the minimum numbers. As is currently the position, families of eligible pupils who meet the distance eligibility criteria under the terms of the school transport scheme, but for whom there is no suitable school transport service available, will continue to be eligible to apply for the remote area grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

Joe McHugh

Question:

183 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 109 to 112, inclusive, of 16 December 2010, her views on the fact that the new system will effectively shut down school transport services in the medium term in view of the fact that families with children currently availing of bus transport services under the closed school rule and with children who will not commence primary school until 2013, will not pay €110 per annum to send their older children to school by bus when they will be transporting the younger children to school privately; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1067/11]

The new system the Deputy is referring to is the ceasing of the Closed School Rule (CSR) for school transport eligibility purposes for new pupils entering at primary level.

I advised the Deputy in my previous reply in December that from the beginning of the 2011/2012 school year, as an initial step, the distance criteria will be applied to all pupils attending primary schools and that the exemption under the closed school rule will cease. This means that pupils categorised for transport under the CSR who reside less than 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) from the school of attendance and who are availing of free transport to that school under the CSR will lose transport eligibility.

The remaining pupils in this category, who meet the requisite distance criteria and whose numbers will be diminishing annually over a maximum period of seven years, will continue to retain school transport eligibility until they complete their education at their school of attendance.

From the 2012/2013 school year, full implementation of the change will mean eligibility based on the closed school rule and the central school rule will cease for all new children entering primary schools.

There is no evidence to suggest that the new system will effectively close down school transport services in the medium term. Survey work undertaken as part of the school transport value for money review showed that the majority of pupils categorised under the closed school rule are in fact attending their nearest school.

This rule, which has remained fundamentally unchanged since 1968, has perpetuated a system where a cohort of pupils are deemed eligible for transport where the distance criterion of 3.2 kms is not met or the school of attendance is not their nearest. I acknowledge that some families will be affected by the fact that older siblings will be eligible for transport to the amalgamated school while siblings newly entering primary schools will be assessed for transport eligibility to their nearer open school but this practical effect would occur at whatever point in time this rule was ceased.

This change means that the distance criteria will be applied equitably nationally and that consistency will be introduced in relation to planning for school places which is already based on local demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and the capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. In the case of all future primary school amalgamations, eligibility for school transport will be based on distance from and attendance at the nearest school, as determined by my Department.

Irish Language Exemption

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

184 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if, when, a child is exempt from studying Irish at second level, if that exemption prevents them from taking a foreign language in leaving certificate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1081/11]

Exemptions from studying Irish at post-primary level are granted in accordance with the provisions of Circular M10/94, to the following categories of student:

students whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside Ireland

students over 11 years of age who are being re-enrolled in a school following a period of at least 3 years spent outside the State,

certain categories of students with special educational needs who are failing to achieve adequate levels of attainment in their mother tongue,

pupils from abroad who have no understanding of English. In such cases they are required to study one language only, Irish or English.

The scheme devolves decision making to school authorities who are required to operate strictly within the criteria. Exemptions granted under this Circular relate only to the study of Irish and do not prevent students from studying any other language.

FÁS Training Programmes

Frank Feighan

Question:

185 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the awarding of an apprenticeship which has been held up in a dispute over standards as against time served and the reason a person (details supplied) has not received their due accreditation; and when they will receive same. [1128/11]

This is an operational matter for FÁS, the national training authority responsible for the operation of the apprenticeship system in Ireland.

However, I understand that the apprentice in question is fully aware of his status and that FÁS continues to work with him to facilitate his progression to certification.

Schools Recognition

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

186 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed Educate Together National School in the Clane/Prosperous area of County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1150/11]

A review of the procedures for the establishment of new primary schools is currently being carried out under the Commission on School Accommodation. In the interim it is not proposed to recognise any new primary schools, except in areas where the increases in pupil numbers cannot be catered for in existing schools and which require the provision of new schools. The Commission is due to report to me shortly at which time I will have to consider the policy matters and necessary arrangements and revised procedures that will need to be put in place. The establishment of new schools, including the one referred to by the Deputy, will be considered in this context.

School Discipline

Michael Creed

Question:

187 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the duties and obligations on schools including principals and boards of management regarding comprehensive anti-bullying policies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1156/11]

Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, all schools are required to have in place a Code of Behaviour and this code must be drawn up in accordance with the guidelines of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The NEWB guidelines were issued to schools in 2008 and make it clear that each school must have policies to prevent or address bullying and harassment and schools must make clear in their code of behaviour that bullying is unacceptable. The guidelines further state that as well as making explicit that bullying is prohibited in the school, and having an anti-bullying policy, the code of behaviour should indicate what action the school will take in relation to alleged breaches of the school's bullying policy.

Every school therefore must have in place, a policy which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour, within the framework of the school's overall school code of behaviour. Such a code, developed through consultation with the whole school community and properly implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools. Responsibility for tackling bullying falls to the level of the individual school, as it is at local level that an effective anti-bullying climate must be established and at that level that actions should be taken to address allegations of bullying.

My Department has also issued Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour as an aid to schools in devising measures to prevent and deal with instances of bullying behaviour. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of school management, teachers and parents, and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of their school.

As a further aid to post primary schools, my Department published a template that can be used by post-primary schools in developing an anti-bullying policy. The anti-bullying policy template is based primarily on the key document Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour. However, it also takes account of more recent legislative and regulatory changes, and reference is made to issues of contemporary concern such as the need to tackle text bullying, cyber-bullying and homophobic bullying. The education of students in both primary and post-primary schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. SPHE is now a compulsory subject both at primary level and in the junior cycle of post-primary schools.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

188 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers employed in each individual, private fee-paying primary and secondary school; the gross salary cost of these teachers per school during the 2009/10 academic year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1164/11]

The information requested by the Deputy regarding the number of teachers employed in each individual, private fee-paying secondary school; the gross salary cost of these teachers per school during the 2009/10 academic year is shown in the following table.

My Department does not fund any private Primary Schools.

All Fee Paying Schools Gross Salary Costs 2009-2010 School Year

School No.

School

Address

No. of Teachers

Total Cost

60030V

Blackrock College

Blackrock, Co Dublin

58

4,269,361

60040B

Willow Park School

Rock Road, Blackrock

11

780,107

60090Q

Rathdown School

Glenageary, Co Dublin

21

1,420,743

60100Q

Castleknock College

Castleknock, Dublin 15

31

2,116,001

60120W

Mount Sackville Secondary School

Chapelizod, Dublin 20

34

2,033,965

60130C

Loreto Abbey Secondary School

Dalkey, Co Dublin

33

2,373,975

60140F

Mount Anville Secondary School

Mount Anville Rd, Dublin 14

33

2,428,807

60160L

Notre Dame Secondary School

Upper Churchtown Road, Dublin 14

12

620,619

60180R

Christian Brothers College

Monkstown Park, Dun Laoghaire

27

1,972,513

60240J

Loreto College Foxrock

Foxrock, Dublin 18

38

2,337,670

60250M

Holy Child Secondary School

Military Road, Killiney

18

1,354,589

60260P

St Joseph Of Cluny

Bellevue Park, Ballinclea Rd

25

1,573,901

60272W

The Kings Hospital

Palmerstown, Dublin 20

41

2,788,611

60320H

St Columba’s College

Whitechurch, Dublin 16

15

1,176,793

60321J

Rockbrook Park School

Edmondstown Road, Rathfarnham

7

497,460

60340N

Loreto High School

Beaufort, Grange Rd

34

2,229,519

60381E

Sutton Park School

St Fintans Road, Sutton

13

1,060,041

60520P

Belvedere College S.J

6 Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1

51

3,553,887

60530S

Gonzaga College

Sandford Road, Ranelagh

32

2,288,461

60540V

Catholic University School

89 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

24

1,753,332

60560E

St Marys College

Rathmines, Dublin 6

24

1,771,092

60561G

St Michaels College

Ailesbury Road, Dublin 4

34

2,044,516

60570H

Terenure College

Templeogue Road, Terenure

38

2,679,814

60590N

St Conleths College

28 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge

14

1,076,458

60630W

St Killians Deutsche School

Roebuck Road Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

19

1,246,441

60640C

Sandford Park School Ltd

Sandford Road, Ranelagh

17

1,312,643

60650F

St Andrews College

Booterstown Ave, Blackrock

52

3,629,036

60660I

St Patricks Cathedral G.S

St Patricks Close, Dublin 8

7

479,694

60670L

The High School

Zion Road, Rathgar

43

2,577,589

60820E

Loreto College

53 St Stephens Green, Dublin 2

29

2,110,535

60892G

The Teresian School

12 Stillorgan Road, Donnybrook

11

797,973

60910F

Alexandra College

Milltown, Dublin 6

34

2,389,240

60930L

Rosemont School

Temple Road, Blackrock

7

329,659

61010U

Wesley College

Ballinteer, Dublin 16

51

3,240,671

61080S

Royal School Cavan

College Street, Cavan

12

848,450

61570M

Kilkenny College

Castlecomer Road, Kilkenny

43

3,230,684

61680T

Newbridge College

Newbridge, Co. Kildare

44

3,054,524

61720F

Clongowes Wood College

Naas, Co Kildare

26

1,706,532

61811I

St Gerard’s School

Thornhill Road, Bray

25

1,803,771

62060R

Bandon Grammar School

Bandon, Co Cork

30

1,938,024

62370J

Midleton College

Midleton, Co Cork

19

1,247,497

62520C

Christian Brothers College

Sidney Hill, Wellington Road

42

2,842,211

62570R

Presentation Brothers College

The Mardyke, Cork

35

2,366,502

62690E

Scoil Mhuire

2 Sidney Place, Wellington Road

22

1,631,436

63300Q

Wilson’s Hospital School

Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

22

1,557,824

63870L

Drogheda Grammar School

Mornington Rd, Drogheda

17

1,168,032

63920A

Dundalk Grammar School

Dundalk, Co Louth

30

2,109,062

64150F

Glenstal Abbey School

Murroe, Co Limerick

12

834,271

64310B

Villiers Secondary School

North Circular Road, Limerick

33

2,230,663

64420I

Franciscan College

Gormanstown, Co Meath

28

1,775,931

64830E

Monaghan Collegiate School

Corlatt, Monaghan

13

961,236

65010R

Newtown School

Waterford, Co. Waterford

15

1,132,072

65190W

Sligo Grammar School

The Mall, Sligo

25

1,830,485

65410K

Cistercian College

Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

13

981,966

68071G

St John Scottus Secondary School

74/76 Morehampton Road Donnybrook, Dublin 4

10

731,393

1,454

100,298,282.68

Third Level Institutions

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

189 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent by each Irish University on awarding honorary degrees in each of the years from 2005 to 2010 inclusive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1166/11]

As the Deputy is aware, an honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study and the passing of examinations. The degree is typically a doctorate or, less commonly, a master's degree, and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution. Usually the degree is conferred as a way of honouring a distinguished visitor's contributions to a specific field, or to society in general. The university may derive benefits by association with the person in question. Some universities present honorary degrees as part of wider degree awarding ceremonies, while others may hold special ceremonies for such recipients. The exact cost of such ceremonies is not readily available as it is not identified separately by Universities.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

190 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent by her Department on opinion polling and focus group research in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1172/11]

My Department engages with a wide range of stakeholders and interest groups on an ongoing basis in relation to educational issues, and it is not possible to identify separately the costs involved. Typically, such engagements would include, seeking feedback from industry, students, parents associations, management bodies, unions, subject associations, and special interest groups as well as focus group research and are a normal part of the work of the Department in such areas as curriculum, special needs provision, the higher education strategy, internationalisation of education etc.

Accordingly, the information in the table below includes only consultations and surveys where the specific cost can be identified.

Relevant details of Opinion Poll and/or Focus Group research

Amount Spent 2010

Public Consultation — Press Advertisements inviting views on the Memorial for Victims of Institutional Abuse

20,572.90

Public Consultation — Press Advertisements inviting views on the proposed Statutory Fund to support the needs of Survivors of Residential Institutional Child Abuse

32,578.75

Survey of parental preferences of parents in Gorey, County Wexford in relation to the patronage of a new post-primary school.

€4,998.31

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

191 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of mobile telephones paid for by public bodies under her remit in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1187/11]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

192 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of mobile telephones paid for by her Department in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1202/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 192 together.

The information requested in relation to my Department is currently being compiled and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

With regard to bodies under the aegis of my Department the procurement of mobile phones and associated costs is an operational matter for the bodies themselves and therefore the information requested by the Deputy is not collated centrally.

Special Educational Needs

Mary Upton

Question:

193 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a special needs assistant who retires through ill health may be replaced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1247/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in all mainstream and special schools. This includes determining the level of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support in schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. The Board is the SNA's employer and the terms of employment are subject to the conditions of the contract of employment. The retirement of a SNA is therefore a matter in the first instance for the Board of Management as the SNA's employer. The replacement of a retired SNA is also a matter for the school's Board of Management, subject to the continuing determination by the NCSE of the overall allocation of SNA support required to support the care needs of pupils enrolled in the school.

Schools Building Programme

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

194 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress made in respect of the building programme of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if she will note the continued concerns of the local community in the matters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1292/11]

The project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

The design team are currently working on stage 2(b) of architectural planning which includes applications for Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate (DAC) and the preparation of tender documents. An application for Planning Permission was lodged on 23rd November 2010. On receipt of the necessary statutory approvals the design team will complete and submit their stage 2(b) report to my Department for technical review.

Following the review, and assuming no issues arise, my Department will then revert to the school authority with further instructions regarding progression of the project to tender and construction.

Schools Refurbishment

Phil Hogan

Question:

195 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will issue on an application for grant assistance under the emergency works grant scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1319/11]

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 school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for funding under this scheme to my Department and this application is being assessed. A decision will issue to the school as soon as possible.

John McGuinness

Question:

196 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a grant under the emergency works grant scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Laois and if a decision will be expedited [1327/11]

The Deputy will be aware that a major building project is being advanced for the school in question. In this regard, my officials met with the school authority at the school in December 2010. The school's application for an emergency works grant was also discussed. My officials pointed out to the school authority that the scale of work proposed within the emergency works application suggested that it would be more appropriate to progress this as part of the major building project. The school authority agreed to revisit the application with a view to identifying any emergency works that it considered needed to be carried out in advance of the major building project and to submit a revised application to the Department. Any application received will be considered within the context of my Department's 2011 School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Educational Disadvantage

John McGuinness

Question:

197 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the projects funded under the children at risk fund; the amount allocated to each project in each of the past five years; if the funding will be continued for each of the projects and if not the plans that are in place to continue the work being undertaken to support children at risk; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1329/11]

The Fund for the Development of Targeted Educational Responses to Certain Children at Risk, which was also known as the Children at Risk Fund commenced in 1998. The objective of the Fund was to support the development of preventative and supportive programmes, which were targeted at children and young people who were at risk of educational disadvantage and social exclusion. A key focus of the initiative was the empowerment of local communities to develop innovative and flexible programmes that address identified needs of intended participants. Resources allocated under this initiative were used for the provision of a range of holistic supports to enable pupils from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds to participate fully in education.

In 2005 the Department launched the DEIS initiative which brought together a range of programmes and supports aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in some 878 schools throughout the country. Through DEIS an additional €40 million was provided bringing the allocation for disadvantage in schools to in excess of €200 million. In the light of this additional investment, a decision was taken in Budget 2009 to discontinue the Children at Risk fund.

In 2009 my Department conducted an evaluation of seven remaining projects as part of a review of support for projects under the Children at Risk fund to assist in determining future funding arrangements and possible mainstreaming of appropriate projects or models of intervention. The evaluation reports were finalised and issued in 2010.

The following are details of the number of projects and funding provided under the Children at Risk Fund over the last 5 years:

2005 — 28 projects and a Music Initiative — €1,243,955.

2006 — 35 projects and the Music Initiative — €1,251,041.

2007 — 26 projects and 9 schools — €1,269,738.

2008 — 9 projects and 1 school — €607,028.

2009 — 8 projects — €480,143.

2010 — 6 projects — €402,800 was issued in December 2010.

The School Completion Programme is a major component of DEIS. This programme provides support for targeted children who are at risk of early school leaving. The supports are provided through 124 local projects and include interventions on school attendance, literacy/numeracy as well as social and sporting interventions. The School Completion Programme will be comprehensively reviewed in the coming year. In the context of this review, consideration will be given to the integration of some of the remaining six projects with the School Completion Programme where appropriate.

Children at Risk Fund 2005-2010

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Project Name

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Cherry Orchard After Schools Project

90,000.00

70,000.00

70,000.00

70,000.00

70,000.00

66,500.00

a) The Life Centre, Pearse Square, Dublin 2

65,000.00

70,000.00

70,000.00

70,000.00

70,000.00

66,500.00

b) Sunday’s Well Life Centre, 6 Winters Hill, Cork

50,000.00

50,000.00

50,000.00

50,000.00

50,000.00

47,500.00

Citywise, Jobstown, Dublin 24

40,000.00

b) Drogheda Partnership — Homework Project

25,000.00

Hillstreet Family Resource Centre, Hillstreet, Dublin 1

20,000.00

20,000.00

20,000.00

Mountwood/Fitzgerald Homework Project, Dun Laoghaire

20,000.00

Fr McGrath Centre, Kilkenny

125,000.00

140,000.00

140,000.00

140,000.00

140,000.00

133,000.00

Meitheal Programme, Co Wexford

70,000.00

80,000.00

80,000.00

80,000.00

80,000.00

76,000.00

St Aloysius Secondary School, Marie of the Isle, Cork

3,000.00

Fingal ICTU Centre for Unemployed, Finglas Village, Dublin 11

64,000.00

64,000.00

64,000.00

64,000.00

Foróige Rathmines Schools Initiative

13,000.00

15,000.00

15,000.00

Whole School Programme, Ballymote, Co. Sligo

27,000.00

27,000.00

27,000.00

10,000.00

Drogheda Intervention and Intergration Programme

25,000.00

Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Waterford (Travelling Comm)

10,000.00

External Learning Community Project (XLC/ELC Project) Waterford

3,000.00

2,692.00

Mayfield Development Group, Clondalkin

17,600.00

5,000.00

18,500.00

St. Joseph’s N.S. Tivoli Rd, Dun Laoghaire,

6,000.00

Ard Scoil Mhuire, Limerick

5,000.00

Out of School Transition Project, Dun Laoghaire Youth Service

20,000.00

Mosney Homework Club, Mosney, Julianstown, Co. Meath.

11,000.00

14,000.00

14,000.00

14,000.00

14,000.00

13,300.00

Roscommon Partnership Company, c/o VEC Administrative Office,

31,000.00

25,000.00

25,000.00

Drogheda Integrated Early School Leavers Project

25,000.00

Rathkeale Homework Club

8,000.00

Crunchy Breakfast Club, Scoil Mhuire, Mourne Rd, Drimnagh

6,000.00

8,000.00

Moate Community School, Moate, Co. Westmeath

25,000.00

27,000.00

27,000.00

St. Philips SNS, Mountview

4,600.00

Children at Risk Fund 2005-2010— continued

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Project Name

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Music Disadvantage Initiative

85,000.00

Dóchas, Clondalkin

7,355.00

St. Joseph’s Youthband Project (Ballymun Wind Band)

60,000.00

60,000.00

Irish Refugee Council

4,000.00

Cool School Scheme, Meath

10,000.00

Carlow Regional Youth Services

3,000.00

Scoil Chriost Ri, Ennis

6,000.00

Mary Mother of Hope N.S. Littlepace, Dublin 15

50,000.00

Milford Community Youth Project

20,000.00

Music Disadvantage Initiative 2005

419,000.00

The Hive Youth Café New Ross, Co. Wexford

10,000.00

Youth Horizons

25,000.00

St Joseph Secondary School Rochfortbridge

1,934.00

BEST Ballymun — Out of School Group

35,000.00

Blanchardstown Area Partnership — Blakestown Comm Sch

35,000.00

Inchicore College of further Education

11,440.00

Dublin 15 Primary Principal in Action- St Patricks’ Drumcondra

46,000.00

Co-operation Fingal (Traveller programme)

5,500.00

Freemount National School, Charleville

8,000.00

St Aidans National School, Kiltimagh

7,600.00

Littleton National School, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

8,700.00

11,000.00

St Philip’s Junior National School, Mountview Clonsilla, Dublin

46,000.00

Inishowen Children’s Autism Related Education (i.C.A.R.E.)

60,000.00

Beneavin De la Salle College, Finglas, D11

3,500.00

St Saviours National School, Waterford

46,200.00

Children at Risk Fund 2005-2010— continued

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Project Name

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Amount Allocated

Cnoc Mhuire Senior National School, Killinarden, Tallaght

41,000.00

Music Disadvantage Initiative 2006

125,567.00

DunLaoghaire Youth Service — Arts’ Programme

10,000.00

Pavee Point Travellers Centre

50,893.00

46,143.00

Ramelton Community Project, Ramelton, Co. Donegal

100,000.00

Na Calaí Communtiy Development, Portuma

50,000.00

Pioneer Total Abstinence Association

60,000.00

St Benedict’s National School, Littlepace/Ongar Dublin 15

28,500.00

Scoil Mhuire Junior School, Blakestown, Dublin 15

15,100.00

Ballbriggan Educate Together N.S, Ballbriggan, Co. Dublin

5,000.00

Youth Café, An Daingean, Co. Kerry

13,297.00

St Tiernan’s College, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo

3,608.00

Castaheney Educate Together National School

20,000.00

Familiscope, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10

50,000.00

Montague Direct Provision Centre, Emo, Portlaoise

936.00

Colaiste Choilm, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

20,000.00

The Base, Ballyfermot Youth Centre & Childcare Facility Ltd.

30,000.00

Colaiste Muire, Tuar Mhic Eadaigh, Co Mhaigh Eo

27,072.00

14,028.00

Dun Laoghaire Alternataive — Pathways

66,140.00

20,000.00

1,243,955.00

1,251,041.00

1,269,738.00

607,028.00

480,143.00

402,800.00

Literacy Levels

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

198 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason the draft national plan to improve literacy and numeracy in schools does not contain any discussion on proposals to raise the literacy standards of children with sensory or physical disabilities; the measures she is taking to increase the literacy standards of these children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1357/11]

The measures proposed in the Draft National Plan to Improve Literacy and Numeracy in Schools are intended to improve the literacy standards of all students, including those with special needs and learning difficulties. The strategy places particular emphasis on a whole school approach to promoting literacy and numeracy, setting out a range of actions relating to curriculum and assessment, school leadership, planning and review, parental engagement, and providing for comprehensive professional development of teachers.

A key priority for the Government over the past decade has been to improve the provision of additional resources for all pupils with special educational needs (SEN), including those with sensory and/or physical disabilities. The measures include:

a general allocation model at primary level which ensures that all schools have have additional teaching resources in place to meet the learning support needs of students with high incidence special educational needs and learning support needs, including those experiencing difficulty with literacy and numeracy.

An ex quota provision for learning support and guidance in all post primary schools in the free education/block grant schemes.

Additional teaching supports allocated as necessary by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to support children with low incidence special educational needs, including pupils with sensory/physical disabilities. Over 5,500 pupils with sensory and/or physical disabilities were allocated additional teaching support by the NCSE in the 2009/10 school year.

21 special schools/classes with lower pupil: teacher ratios of between 6:1 and 10:1 for pupils with Hearing Impairment or sensory or physical disabilities.

A Special Education Support Service (SESS) provides access to a range of professional development programmes for teachers of pupils with special needs, providing for in-school support, individualised teacher support, direct provision of courses and access to on-line programmes offered by the Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe. This is supplemented by post graduate programmes for teachers available on an inservice basis in Learning Support and Special Education offered in the universities and colleges of education. These courses include a strong focus on literacy and numeracy. A visiting teacher service for visual and hearing impairment provides teaching support for children and specialist advice to schools, teachers and parents.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for teachers at primary and post primary level on supporting the needs of students with general learning disabilities across a range of subjects, including communications and language and mathematics. This is supplemented by professional development programmes in ICT and advice provided by the National Centre for Technology in Education on the use of assistive technology for students with disabilities, including students who are deaf or hard of hearing, have a visual impairment or a physical disability.

Schools and parents are supported by the National Council for Special Education through its network of over 80 local Special Educational Needs Organisers. Support is also provided to schools through my Department's National Educational Psychological Service. Schools without an assigned NEPS psychologist can avail of the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments.

In 2010 my Department provided approximately €1.8m to schools to purchase assistive technology and/or specialist equipment required to support pupils who have been assessed as having a special educational need, including pupils with sensory/physical disabilities.

My Department also provides funding (€1.28m in 2010) to the National Braille Production Centre (NBPC) who provide visually impaired pupils at first and second level with textbooks in Braille and audio format. There were 489 clients registered with the NBPC in 2010.

I have invited submissions from interested parties on the Draft National Plan by 31 January 2011.

Higher Education Grants

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will confirm if she has received correspondence from Union of Students in Ireland in relation to proposed changes to maintenance grant criteria in Budget 2011; if she recognises the impact of same on students; if she will review same in the coming months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1415/11]

I can confirm that my Department received the correspondence referred to by the Deputy on 7th January, 2011. A response to the matters raised by the Union of Students in Ireland will issue shortly.

The allocation for student grants in 2011 is just over €385m. This is an increase of some 5% or €18m over the 2010 provision.

Increases in the number of students qualifying for grants, increases in proportions now qualifying for higher rates of grants as well as the introduction of the Student Contribution paid for on behalf of grant-holders each account for additional cost pressures in 2011.

In order to manage these cost pressures, a number of savings measures are necessary in 2011. While the measures involved will result in changes to the rate of grant payable, none of the measures will result in a student losing a grant or becoming ineligible for a grant.

Schools Refurbishment

Bobby Aylward

Question:

200 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will approve the application for funding for emergency works by a national school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1436/11]

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 school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for funding under this scheme to my Department and this application is being assessed. A decision will issue to the school as soon as possible.

School Staffing

Michael Creed

Question:

201 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has received an application to retain a resource teacher for Travellers post from schools (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1467/11]

My Department has received a representation in respect of Resource Teacher for Traveller posts at the schools mentioned by the Deputy.

The position is that the Government has taken a decision to provide educational teaching supports to Traveller students on the same basis as other students in schools. This means that Traveller students who require additional tuition will receive this tuition through the existing learning support provision in schools.

All schools will be advised to select students for learning support on the basis of priority of need.

Resource Teacher for Traveller posts will be withdrawn, effective from September 2011. It is intended that alleviation measures will be provided for schools with high concentrations of Traveller children and that schools will shortly be advised of the alleviation measures which will apply and of the qualifying criteria.

My Department will advise all schools of their staffing allocation in advance of the next school year.

Higher Education Grants

Emmet Stagg

Question:

202 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a substantive response has not issued in relation to correspondence to her office (details supplied). [1471/11]

A substantive response issued to the Deputy's representation on behalf of the person to whom he refers on 11 January, 2011. The Deputy should be aware that a decision on grant eligibility is a matter for the student's grant awarding authority in the first instance. A fully and accurately completed application form is necessary in this regard for the grant awarding authority to make an informed decision on grant eligibility.

School Transport

Frank Feighan

Question:

203 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the way the current school transport scheme for primary school children is operated before the €50 school transport charge for primary school children is introduced. [1502/11]

Frank Feighan

Question:

204 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary school children who avail of the public transport school scheme across the country. [1503/11]

Frank Feighan

Question:

205 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary school children who avail of the public transport school scheme in County Roscommon. [1504/11]

Frank Feighan

Question:

206 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary school children who avail of the public transport school scheme in County Leitrim. [1505/11]

Frank Feighan

Question:

207 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the revenue projections for introducing a €50 school transport charge and the way that this revenue will be allocated. [1506/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 203 to 207, inclusive, together.

Under the terms of the Primary School Transport scheme pupils are eligible for transport if they reside 3.2 kilometres or more from, and are attending, their nearest national school, as determined by my Department. Eligible primary pupils have up to now been transported free of charge. Pupils who avail of concessionary transport pay an annual charge of €200.

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes on behalf of my Department, has advised that in the current school year nearly 59,000 primary pupils are availing of school transport, including 8,000 children with special educational needs and over 3,200 pupils availing of concessionary transport.

Bus Éireann has also advised that 1,193 and 1,359 tickets were issued for primary school transport services in Counties Roscommon and Leitrim respectively for the 2009/10 school year.

Eligible primary pupils holding medical cards and all children with special educational needs will be exempt from paying the primary charge. The latest data shows that 42% of all post primary pupils travelling hold valid medical cards and are currently exempt from paying the post primary school transport charge. Using this % as a guide in establishing the number of eligible primary pupils liable to pay charges, it is estimated that, based on current take up, just over 27,500 pupils would be liable to pay charges in the 2011/2012 school year.

The 2011 estimate for school transport services is €180 million compared to an allocation for 2010 of €186 million. Under the four year national recovery plan €4.5 million in savings will need to be secured in 2011, rising to €17 million in 2014, through a combination of increases in charges and the implementation of measures identified in the value for money review of the school transport scheme. The annual revenue projection as a result of the introduction of this charge in a full year is approximately €1.3 million. The revenue raised will be used to offset the overall cost of the scheme to the Exchequer.

Schools Building Programme

James Bannon

Question:

208 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the approval of an application for the funding of a new national school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1575/11]

The school to which the Deputy refers applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for a new school building. 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 the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

I wish to clarify for the Deputy that in December 2009, my Department approved grant-aid to facilitate the re-location of the school from their original premises to temporary accommodation at the current site. The school authorities secured a three year lease on this site. My officials are in ongoing contact with the school authority regarding the school's long term accommodation needs.

Departmental Correspondence

Denis Naughten

Question:

209 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will reply to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1584/11]

The correspondence in question was recently referred to my Department from another educational body. The issue raised is currently under consideration in my Department and a response will issue shortly.

Special Educational Needs

Denis Naughten

Question:

210 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the total funding provided for the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities into the education system; if she will provide a breakdown in this allocation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1586/11]

The Deputy will be aware of my Department's commitment to ensuring that all children including those with special needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants and the appropriate school curriculum with the option, in line with each child's ability, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

My Department's policy is to provide for children with special educational needs to be integrated into mainstream schools unless such a placement would not be in their best interests or the interests of the children with whom they are to be educated. Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school. Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

There are now in excess of 20,000 adults in our schools working solely with pupils with special needs. This includes over 10,000 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) at a cost of approximately €340m; over 9,000 resource and learning support teachers employed in mainstream schools, 500 teachers in special classes and 1,100 special school teachers at a cost of approximately €650m.

My Department continues to fund special school transport arrangements for pupils with special educational needs at a cost of approximately €50m per annum. Funding is provided to schools to purchase assistive technology and/or specialist equipment at a cost of approximately €1.8m. In addition, funding is provided for school buildings to be adapted where necessary.

My Department has also responded to the need to provide teachers with continuing professional development in special education. This has been a key priority in recent years. The establishment of the Special Education Support Service (SESS) to provide expert support, professional development and training opportunities in special education for school staff has been very significant. My Department provided funding of over €2.4m to the SESS in 2010 for this purpose. 22,516 training places were provided in 2010 through the SESS.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) was set up to improve the delivery of education services to persons with special educational needs arising from disabilities with particular emphasis on children. The NCSE, with its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), provides a service to schools seeking additional teaching and/or care supports for enrolled students who qualify for additional supports. Working locally on the ground, the SENOs are a focal point of contact for parents and schools. The NCSE has advised my Department that additional SNA support and resource teaching hours were in place in mainstream schools in the 09/10 school year in respect of over 13,000 and 34,000 pupils respectively.

The Deputy will be aware that there has been unprecedented investment in providing supports for pupils with special needs in recent years and Special Education continues to be a key Government priority. Over €1 billion was spent in supporting special educational provision last year.

I wish to assure the Deputy that the education of children with special educational needs remains a key Government priority and children with special educational needs will continue to have access to an appropriate education in line with my Department's policy.

FÁS Training Programmes

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

211 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in view of the delay in publishing the proposed Qualifications (Education and Training) Bill, if her Department will issue a circular which will allow Irish students, workers and employers to access the wide range of non-Irish qualifications (details supplied) that have been formally aligned with the Irish National Framework of Qualifications; to note that many of these qualifications meet the standard expected in Ireland, for historical reasons many of these providers are well known in Ireland, are highly sought after by employers here and would help meet the growing need to re-skill large parts of the workforce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1611/11]

Many non–Irish qualifications, such as qualifications awarded by the organisation referred to by the Deputy, are aligned with the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are available to Irish learners through a variety of education providers. Alignment with the NFQ enables learners and employers to understand how their award fits in with the Framework and ensures that programmes leading to awards have external quality assurance from a recognised agency.

Legal Services

Alan Shatter

Question:

212 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 the arrangements entered into by her Department for the obtaining of advice from a firm of solicitors and or from senior or junior counsel; in each case the subject matter in respect of which advices were sought, the name of the solicitors firm and or barristers concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned, that is, whether it involved the drafting of legislation or the obtaining of legal advices; whether in each case the matter concerned was advertised for tender and where not, why not [1619/11]

It is not possible to provide the information requested in the time available. A reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as the information is to hand.

Legal Proceedings

Alan Shatter

Question:

213 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in respect of each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 if she will give details of the number of court cases initiated in each year in which she or her predecessor was named as a defendant; the number of such cases in each year initiated in the District Court, Circuit Court or High Court; the nature of the proceedings taken, for example, the number of cases in which damages were claimed; judicial review was sought of decisions made or were constitutional challenges and so on; whether in all such cases legal representation was provided by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and if not, by whom; if she will detail the legal costs incurred by her Department in each of the said years in respect of any such litigation and to provide a breakdown of same including details of fees paid to solicitors and barristers; to detail the number of cases in each of the aforesaid years that were lost and in respect of which she or the State was ordered to pay the plaintiff’s costs and the amount of costs so paid in each of the aforesaid years. [1634/11]

It is not possible to provide the information requested in the time available. A reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as the information is to hand.

Legal Services

Alan Shatter

Question:

214 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills with regard to legal services used by her Department, any Body under the aegis of her Department and any State agency for which she is responsible; if she will give details of the legal services of which there has been competitive tendering in each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; the legal firm in each case that furnished advice with regard to any such tendering and assisted in the preparation of tender documents and in each case to detail the solicitor’s firm who succeeded in each tendering process, the nature of the work for which each firm successfully tendered and the fees paid for any such advice or assistance to each firm for work for which it tendered. [1649/11]

It is not possible to provide the information requested in the time available. A reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as the information is to hand.

Proposed Legislation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 will advance to Committee Stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48515/10]

The Government has confirmed its support for the Construction Contracts Bill which was introduced in the Seanad by Senator Feargal Quinn. In this regard, the Government is working closely with the Senator to develop a robust piece of legislation that provides a remedy to parties operating at various levels under a construction contract when payments are not forthcoming. This is a complex area. Amendments are being drafted with the aim of having the Bill progress to Committee Stage in the Seanad in the next few weeks.

National Asset Management Agency

Martin Ferris

Question:

216 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance his views on the reluctance of the National Assets Management Agency to lease property on its books to businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1355/11]

NAMA has acquired eligible assets from the Participating Institutions, which for the most part, consist of loans. The property or other assets securing these loans remain in the possession of the Debtor. In cases where enforcement action is taken against a Debtor, NAMA may ultimately take ownership of property but it is expected that in the majority of these instances the property will be managed by a receiver. To date, NAMA does not own any such property and therefore the arrangement of leases between NAMA and third parties is not applicable. I am advised by NAMA that as part of the business plan process and ongoing management of the Debtor relationship, NAMA is actively engaging with debtors to get their assets to produce income and is approving decisions relating to the underlying security including lease agreements between the Debtor and third parties where it makes commercial sense to do so. There is no reluctance on the part of NAMA to approve commercially viable arrangements.

Disabled Drivers

Denis Naughten

Question:

217 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if he will amend the current regulations covering the primary medical certificate to allow any designated area medical officer to sign off rather than the senior AMO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1424/11]

I have no plans to amend the current regulations covering the issue of a Primary Medical Certificate under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 to allow any designated area medical officer to sign off rather than the Senior Area Medical Officer.

Tax Code

Arthur Morgan

Question:

218 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to an anomaly that exists whereby an unmarried couple are assessed as a couple for the purposes of social welfare but are not recognised as a couple for the purposes of Revenue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48092/10]

The position is that cohabitating couples are expressly recognised for the purpose of social welfare law but are not recognised for the purposes of Income Tax law. Although this may appear contradictory, the main aim of both the welfare code and the tax code is to uphold the constitutional right of married couples not to be treated less favourably than unmarried couples. The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs the Attorney General (1980) which held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income.

The treatment of cohabiting couples for the purposes of social welfare is primarily a matter for the Minister for Social Protection. However, it is also based on the principle that married couples should not be treated less favourably than cohabiting couples. This was given a constitutional underpinning following the Supreme Court decision in Hyland v Minister for Social Welfare (1989) which ruled that it was unconstitutional for the total income a married couple received in social welfare benefits to be less than the couple would have received if they were unmarried and cohabiting.

In the particular circumstances outlined, where a couple are cohabiting rather than married, they are treated as separate and unconnected individuals for the purpose of Income Tax. Each partner is a separate entity for tax purposes and, accordingly, credits, bands and reliefs cannot be transferred from one partner to the other. However, I should point out that relevant legislative changes to take account of the provisions under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill 2011.

Financial Services Regulation

Martin Ferris

Question:

219 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if Irish institutions and individuals hold Irish bonds and if he will give a figure or an estimate of the amount involved in same. [48093/10]

I am advised by the NTMA that according to the most recent figures available from the Central Bank of Ireland, Irish resident institutions and individuals held €15.5 billion of Irish Government stock at end-November 2011, equivalent to 17.2% of the total.

Departmental Contracts

Joe Carey

Question:

220 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the way the principle of section 5 of a public works contract is implemented and enforced by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48120/10]

Clause 5 of the Public Works contracts require main contractors and all subcontractors employed by main contractors to comply with the rates of pay and conditions of employment including pension contributions in employment agreements registered under the Industrial Relations Acts 1946 to 2004. The one exception is in regard to the registered agreement for pensions where a firm registered in another Member State and working in this country has employees temporarily posted from that other jurisdiction and who subscribe to a national pension scheme in their own country, then the firm or its employees do not have to subscribe to the Irish pension scheme.

The Public Works Contracts also requires a main contractor to provide a certificate of compliance (titled ‘Rates of Pay and Conditions of Employment Certificate') with each interim statement submitted (normally on a monthly basis). Failure to provide this compliance certificate will result in payment not being made by the contracting authority. If a main contractor provides a certificate of compliance and it is subsequently found to be untrue or partly untrue the contracting authority has the right to deduct the money relating to the work or part of the work covered by the certificate from any sums due to the main contractor. This money can be withheld until the pay and conditions of employment issue is made right. The ultimate sanction if a main contractor continues to be non-compliant is for the main contract to be terminated.

Under a Public Works Contract a contracting authority has the right, whenever it is deemed necessary, to access data and records on pay and conditions for work persons employed on the site. In the case of capital works projects in excess of €30 million and with a contract duration in excess of 18 months, contracting authorities provide in their contracts for random checks of the records of contractors and sub-contractors to assess compliance with the requirements of the Registered Employment Agreement, as appropriate.

The Public Works Contracts were developed by my Department working with the Government Construction Contracts Committee for use by all public contracting authorities. Each contracting authority must ensure that contractors comply with all the requirements of the contract.

Fiscal Policy

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

221 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Finance the interest rate being discussed for the loan from the British Government to the Republic of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48129/10]

Based on the market conditions prevailing at the time of the agreement, the interest rate on the UK loan is 5.9%.

The amount lent to Ireland by the UK will be the sterling equivalent of €3.8bn. The interest rate is based on a 7.5 year period. The rate on each tranche will be a fixed rate, set by adding a fixed margin to the sterling 7.5 year swap rate at the time of disbursement.

The interest charge is aligned with international rates and is between the EFSM and EFSF rates.

Black Economy

Terence Flanagan

Question:

222 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will deal with a matter regarding the black economy (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48139/10]

My Department does not produce estimates of the size of the informal economy nor of the estimated loss to the Exchequer arising from such activities. Internationally, a considerable amount of research has been undertaken in this area but, by definition, it is always difficult to quantify the scale of the informal economy.

Having said that, the Central Statistics Office in compiling estimates of national income, and in line with best international practice, makes adjustments to the figures in order to control informal activity in some sub-sectors of the economy. This is done at a very detailed level, with the result that an overall economy-wide estimate is not available.

Departmental Expenditure

Brian Hayes

Question:

223 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the cost to his Department from 2007 in respect of providing all computer, hardware and software, in his private and constitutency office in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48157/10]

My Department has incurred no costs in relation to the provision of computers or software in my private and constituency office from 2007 as the existing computers and software were purchased prior to 2007.

2007

2008

2009

2010

Private & constituency Office

Computers

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Software

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Printers

Nil

€678

Nil

€474

Tax Yield

Joan Burton

Question:

224 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 14 December 2010, the total number of taxpayers, total income and the total tax paid for each of the income bands based on the most recent available data. [48175/10]

The information requested, estimated by reference to the income tax year 2010, is set out in the following table. However, because of the Revenue Commissioners' obligation to observe confidentiality in relation to the taxation affairs of individual taxpayers and small groups of taxpayers, the breakdown by income bands requested by the Deputy is not provided in relation to incomes exceeding €2 million due to the small numbers of income earners with incomes in excess of that level.

All income earners for Income Tax Year 2010 (provisional)

Gross Income Range

Gross Income

Numbers

Tax Paid

0-5,000

522,779,138

228,716

0

5,001-10,000

1,378,803,216

184,571

67,612

10,001-14,000

1,915,579,666

159,676

2,599,857

14,001-15,000

564,086,397

38,898

1,344,356

15,001-15,514

320,426,159

21,000

781,611

15,515-17,542

1,377,467,402

83,243

3,839,506

17,543 -20,000

2,083,642,309

111,098

10,868,049

20,001-30,000

10,137,686,015

408,875

312,390,392

30,001-33,343

3,464,273,201

109,483

181,830,919

33,344 -40,000

6,862,360,897

187,686

449,592,682

40,001-50,000

9,044,330,416

202,568

855,813,626

50,001-60,000

7,361,564,619

134,600

924,246,734

60,001-70,000

6,078,966,851

93,895

878,259,934

70,001-80,000

4,978,336,338

66,643

802,366,956

80,001-90,000

3,943,717,249

46,572

703,670,207

90,001-100,000

3,066,193,378

32,373

595,135,165

100,001-125,000

5,249,831,313

47,355

1,132,087,062

125,001-150,000

3,030,835,653

22,265

732,853,386

150,001-175,000

1,937,482,544

12,005

505,315,958

175,001-200,000

1,330,025,498

7,135

359,687,030

200,001-250,000

1,745,821,086

7,854

488,030,058

250,001-300,000

1,164,312,901

4,271

334,568,674

300,001-350,000

847,891,772

2,625

244,170,235

350,001-400,000

623,384,633

1,672

185,408,706

400,001-450,000

461,108,243

1,091

134,134,453

450,001-500,000

382,533,023

808

115,082,701

500,001-750,000

1,140,075,102

1,889

354,486,267

750,001-1,000,000

542,706,383

633

167,540,659

1,000,000-2,000,000

795,187,850

608

263,907,461

Over 2,000,000

841,976,405

188

305,368,898

Total

83,193,385,657

2,220,296

11,045,449,154

The current minimum wage which has been annualised at €17,542 and the new minimum wage which has been annualised at €15,514 are included among the income ranges in the table. The latest available average industrial wage of €33,343, which relates to 2009, is also included among the income ranges in the table.

The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends in the interim. These are, therefore, provisional and likely to be revised.

It should be noted that the income ranges shown in the above tables relate to Gross Income as defined in Revenue Statistical Report, 2006.

It should also be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Tax Code

Joan Burton

Question:

225 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if subscribers to a company (details supplied) and other premium TV services pay VAT on these services to the Irish Exchequer or to the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48176/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under the provisions of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010, and the EU VAT Directive with which Irish VAT law must comply, the place of supply, and hence the place of taxation, of television services that are supplied to non-taxable persons by a business in the EU is where the supplier of those services has established its business. In effect, this means that where a business based in another Member State of the EU supplies such services to customers in Ireland who are private individuals, the supplier must account for VAT due on those services in its own Member State and not in Ireland. As the company referred to by the Deputy is based in the UK, Irish subscribers to their television services are charged UK VAT on those services. I would add, however, that further provisions of the EU VAT Directive relating to the place of supply of television services are due to take effect by 1 January 2015. This will provide that, as and from that date, VAT due in respect of the supply of television services by suppliers in an EU Member State to non-taxable persons in other EU Member States will be payable in the Member State of the customer. Accordingly, from that date where the customer is a private individual based in Ireland, the supplier will be obliged to charge Irish VAT on the supply of the service.

Tax Reliefs

Joan Burton

Question:

226 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out the tax foregone by the Exchequer for film relief for the years 2009 and 2010; the estimated tax foregone due to film relief for 2011; if he will publish a cost benefit or similar analysis in respect of film relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48179/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated amount of tax foregone by the Exchequer in respect of film relief for the years 2009 and 2010 is €42 million and €65 million respectively. The cost figure for 2010 is provisional and may be revised. Projections for tax receipts are based on assumed movements in macro-economic parameters and not by reference to the costs of individual tax reliefs. Accordingly, I am not in a position to provide the projected cost data requested by the Deputy for the year 2011 in relation to this relief.

In relation to the second part of the Deputy's question on cost-benefit analysis Indecon International Economic Consultants were engaged to undertake a review of Section 481 film relief in 2007. In light of the findings and recommendations of this review the relief was extended for a further four years to 2012.

The Commission on Taxation also considered Film Relief and recommended that it should be continued but should be subject to regular review. It is intended that such a review will be undertaken in advance of any adjustments or extension to the relief.

Departmental Expenditure

Joan Burton

Question:

227 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out any sum of money paid by his Department to a company (details supplied) in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48187/10]

The below amounts were paid to the company in question during the years 2006-2010:

Date

Amount

Detail

8 March 2007

42,592.00

Update of review of scheme of tax relief for residential units associated with nursing homes.

6 December 2007

92,111.25

Review of Section 481 Film Relief Scheme

Departmental Websites

Liz McManus

Question:

228 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance the number and cost of each website that falls under his remit; the number of unique visitors per month to each website; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48205/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tables:

Department of Finance

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

http://www.finance.gov.ie

Department of Finance Web site

5,800 plus VAT

150,000

http://www.budget.gov.ie

Publication of Annual Budget

Nil

50,000

http://www.gov.ie

Government of Ireland

Nil

50,000

http://www.bankinginquiry.gov.ie

Banking Inquiry website

Nil

916

http://www.training.gov.ie

Civil Service Training and Development

Nil

414

http://www.cmo.gov.ie

Office of the Chief Medical Officer

Nil

113

http://www.reviewbody.gov.ie

Review Body on Higher Remuneration

Nil

172

http://www.cspensions.gov.ie

Civil Service Pensions Calculator

Nil

1,382

http://www.benchmarking.gov.ie

Benchmarking Body

Nil

147

http://www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie

Information on Construction Procurement

Nil

2,184

http://www.cprm.gov.ie

Committee for Public Management Research

Nil

947

http://www.cspvg.gov.ie

Civil Service Performance Verification Group

Nil

83

http://www.decentralisation.gov.ie

Decentralisation publications

Nil

581

http://www.disability.gov.ie

Disability Information Website

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.personnelcode.gov.ie

Publication of Personal Code & Circulars

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.eprocnet.gov.ie

eProcurement Network Information

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.eustructuralfunds.ie

EU Structural Funds

Nil

Facility is under Develpement

http://www.foi.gov.ie

Information on Freedom of Information

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.ictprocurement.gov.ie

ICT Procurement

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.ict.gov.ie

ICT Control Website

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.peerreview.gov.ie

Information website on Peer Review Process

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.ppp.gov.ie

Public Private Partnership

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.psi.gov.ie

Re-use of Public Sector Information

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.cseas.gov.ie

Civil Service Employee Assistance Service

Nil

Not recorded

http://www.taxcommission.ie

Commission on Taxation

Nil

Facility is under Develpement

www.ndp.ie

National Development Plan Website

Nil

With the exception of where costs were supplied all other sites were hosted and maintained in-house.

Public Appointments Service

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

www.publicjobs.ie

Public Appointments Service

€5,500

110,000

Commission for Public Service Appointments

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

www.cpsa.ie

Commiission for Public Service Appointments

Approx €350 p.a.

Approx 1,200

Office of the Ombudsman

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

www.oic.gov.ie

website of the office of the Information Commissioner

€2,638.00

8,516

www.ocei.gov.ie

Website of the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information

www.ombudsman.gov.ie

Website of the Office of the Ombudsman

€3,956

5,192

www.sipo.gov.ie

Website of the Standards in Public Office Commission

€2,198

2,251

While development spend on websites may be subject to discussion with CMOD as part of that body's overarching role in monitoring IT expenditure generally, each of the institutions in the Office of the Ombudsman as shown above are fully independent bodies and none of them falls within the remit of the Minister for Financeper se.

National Treasury Management Agency

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

www.ntma.ie

The National Treasury Management Agency

The five sites each cost €99.99 (exclusive of VAT) to maintain

22,302

www.nprf.ie

National Pensions Reserve Fund

2,821

www.stateclaims.ie

State Claims Agency

889

www.ndfa.ie

National Development Finance Agency

479

www.nama.ie

National Assets Management Agency

14,743

Note that the number of unique visitors is the number of unique visitors last November and that, in addition to the annual maintenance charge, there is also an annual domain registration charge of €330 (ex VAT) for all five sites together with a cost of €4,000 per annum for 24 hour security monitoring of all the websites and the provision of specialist web disability software to aid users with literacy and visual impairments in the use of the web sites.

Special EU Programmes Body

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

www.seupb.org

Special EU Programmes Body

£93.97 + VAT (see note below)

1,035

**This figure has been generated using Google Analytics using figures from June to December 2010. It is based on a monthly average of 3,000 non bounce visits to the website where approximately 34.5% of these visits originate from new visitors.

Annual costs of maintaining the SEUPB website are negligible. Costs incurred relate to the registration of the necessary domain names. Information updates to the website are completed in house. Please note that the costs outlined above would have been funded jointly by the Department of Finance (DoF); the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP); and the European Union and therefore do not reflect the total cost to DoF.

Revenue Commissioners

Website Address

Website Name

Maintenance Costs

Average unique visitors per month

www.revenue.ie

Revenue Commissioners Websites

€931,000

Unique visitors are not recorded, however the number of visits per month is 2.8 million (approx)

www.ros.ie

www.payeanytime.ie

Providing tax & customs information and secure online services such as filing tax returns, making tax payments, checking liabilities

Office of Public Works

Web address

Site Name

Annual maintenance cost if applicable

*Number of unique hits

www.opw.ie

OPW main website

4,467

40,054

www.floodmaps.ie

Flooding information

141,407

10,098

Www.castletown.ieincludingwww.castletownhouse.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,020

10,538

Www.farmleigh.ieincludingwww.farmleighgallery.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

2,469

40,101

Www.flooding.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,470

8,189

Www.irisoifigiuil.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

2,469

10,946

Www.battleoftheboyne.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,020

8,841

Www.blaskets.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,020

Not available

Www.botanicgardens.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

Not available

Www.heritageireland.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,020.00

176,553

Www.kilkennycastle.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,020.00

15,273

Www.peacemonument.ie

Site reserved for future development

1,020.00

Not applicable

Www.phoenixpark.ie

Heritage attraction — information and promotion

1,020.00

26,230

www.OPWAdmin.ie

1,020.00

Not available

*These figures are an aggregate total of unique hits for the last six months July to December 2010 using the Google Analytics tool deployed on these websites.

There are a number of sites where this tool has not been deployed yet and so no figures are available.

EU Funding

Pat Breen

Question:

229 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance if Irish small and medium enterprises may apply for funding under the EU’s risk sharing finance facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48227/10]

The Risk Sharing Finance Facility, based on the principle of sharing credit risk between the European Community and the European Investment Bank (EIB), is an EIB lending facility intended to improve access to debt financing for private companies and public institutions promoting research, development and innovation activities. The scope of eligible activities is wide and extends from traditional "brick and mortar" investments to equipment and soft investments such as R&D operating cost, salaries of researchers, management and support staff, utilities, consumables, acquisition or protection costs for intellectual property rights and, under certain conditions, leasing and depreciation. Projects to be financed by the EIB need to be technically, economically, financially and environmentally feasible according to the Bank's project evaluation criteria. I understand that funding from the Facility, under which the EIB can provide finance to higher-risk creditworthy research development and innovation projects up to a total of €10 billion, is open to small and medium-sized enterprises in the form of risk-sharing lines of credit through the EIB's banking partners. I further understand that discussions have taken place between the EIB and Irish financial institutions with regard to accessing finance under the Facility.

This facility is in addition to the €30 billion facility for increasing lending to small and medium-sized enterprises announced by the EIB on 3 October 2008 and through which four banks operating in Ireland have access to €350 million. These funds are being successfully onlent to small and medium-sized enterprises for investment and I understand that EIB will be in further discussions with Irish banks with a view to providing access to additional funds.

Tax Code

Michael Noonan

Question:

230 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take to implement a decision by the European Court of Justice, reference case C-554-07; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48238/10]

The European Court of Justice Case C-554/07, which concerns the VAT treatment of State and public bodies in Ireland, ruled against Ireland on 16 July 2009. In compliance with the Court's ruling, Section 117 of the Finance Act 2010 included provision to make public bodies subject to VAT with effect from 1 July 2010. In summary, the VAT Act 1972, which has since been consolidated into the VAT Consolidation Act 2010, was amended to provide that public bodies, including local authorities, are made subject to VAT. More specifically, they are subject to VAT where they engage (i) in economic activities; (ii) in any activities as outlined in Annex I of the EU VAT Directive, unless the activity is carried out on such a small scale as to be negligible; and (iii) in the case of their regulatory capacity as a public authority, when their treatment as non-taxable could lead to a distortion of competition.

Services that became liable to VAT on 1 July 2010 include such services as waste collection, landfill and recycling services; off-street parking; toll roads; the operation of leisure facilities; rent from certain lettings of commercial property; and the supply of staff and data. It should be noted that such services had already been subject to VAT if provided by a private operator. VAT on the provision of community and sporting facilities by public bodies will come into effect by Ministerial order.

However, other services operated by public authorities were not made subject to VAT by the Finance Act 2010 provisions, as they are otherwise exempted. In that context, for example, the supply of water, education, health and passenger transport services were not made subject to VAT as they are otherwise exempted from VAT. Examples of the types of activities by public bodies where a charge applies which remain outside the scope of VAT, include parking fines, fees for passports, driving licences etc, development levies, casual trading licences and certificates of compliance. These are purely regulatory functions.

State Assets

Martin Ferris

Question:

231 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if he or the review group on State assets and liabilities has met with the International Monetary Fund regarding the work of the group in relation to its review of State assets and their possible disposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48242/10]

As the Deputy is aware, a delegation from the EU Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank visited Dublin in November 2010 to finalise a programme of financial assistance for Ireland. During this visit, the delegation was briefed on a number of issues of interest, including the ongoing work of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities. The International Monetary Fund did not meet the Review Group as such.

Martin Ferris

Question:

232 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the reason the report of the review group on State assets has not been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48243/10]

The Review Group is currently finalising its Report but may need to undertake some further limited consultation before doing so. I expect to receive the Report thereafter in due course.

Martin Ferris

Question:

233 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if the establishment of the review group on State assets came about as a consequence of contacts with the International Monetary Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48244/10]

I established the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities in July, 2010 to advise me on how the assets can be better used or disposed of to support economic growth and national investment priorities. The International Monetary Fund had no role in the establishment of the Group.

Martin Ferris

Question:

234 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if the International Monetary Fund has suggested that State assets be sold off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48245/10]

The financial assistance programme agreed recently with International Monetary Fund and the EU Commission, in liaison with the ECB, is governed by a detailed Memorandum of Understanding which sets out specific milestones that must be met before funds are drawn down. The Memorandum of Understanding provides,inter alia, that an independent assessment of Ireland’s electricity and gas sectors will be carried out before end 2011 with a view to enhancing their efficiency and that the Government will consult with the Commission on the results of this assessment with a view to setting appropriate targets for the possible privatisation of State-owned assets.

Martin Ferris

Question:

235 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance his views on the sentiments of his party colleague (details supplied) that a wholesale sell-off of State assets could lead to the loss of sovereign control over vital sectors of the economy [48246/10]

Given the current financial condition of the State, it would be negligent not to examine all reasonable ways in the public interest to reduce the State's indebtedness, including through the sale of certain State assets. The issues raised in the Deputy's question will naturally be considered and weighed in the balance when decisions are made by Government on the continued ownership or otherwise of such assets.

Tax Reliefs

Joe Behan

Question:

236 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding tax relief (details supplied). [48291/10]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme. The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of a car adapted for the transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, to those who meet certain disability criteria.

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under this scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get the Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions:

(a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

(b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

(c) be without both hands or without both arms;

(d) be without one or both legs;

(e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

(f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the SMO to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual. I would point out that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions.

Insurance Industry

Frank Feighan

Question:

237 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance his plans for supporting jobs in the Quinn Group in view of the fact that Anglo Irish bank is no longer in the picture. [48295/10]

At the outset the Deputy will appreciate that owing to considerations of commercial confidentiality it would not be appropriate for me in my role as Minister for Finance to make any comment on the participation of any party in relation to the sale of Quinn Insurance Limited (QIL). Responsibility for the sales process is a matter for the Joint Administrators who were appointed by the High Court. I am also of the view that it is inappropriate to speculate as to what may happen in relation to jobs in that company before any decision is made on the sale of the company. I understand however, that it is expected that the Joint Administrators will decide on a preferred bidder shortly with a view to entering into detailed discussions with them to seek to conclude an agreement on the sale of QIL.

In assessing the bids, the Joint Administrators are required to consider how best the interests of policyholders can be protected and how the company can be returned to a sound commercial footing. The retention and protection of employment is also a very important priority subject to their other responsibilities.

The final decision of the Joint Administrators is subject to the approval of the High Court. It is important to be clear that neither I nor the Government have any input or influence over the administration process, including any decision on the sale of the company.

Mortgage Arrears

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

238 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the scheme as it currently exists whereby households found to be in mortgage arrears are protected through agreement with the banks in the current economic climate; if those who end up being in arrears and communicate immediately with the banks do not have to pay interest on their arrears, at least for the time being; the banks involved in the scheme, including subsidiaries; if Haven Mortgages, part of the EBS Group, are part of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48306/10]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

239 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Finance when the revised scheme to assist homeowners who are finding it difficult to keep up their mortgage payments will be up and running; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48307/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 238 and 239 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Expert Group (Expert Group) have now completed their work having submitted an Interim Report to me on 5th July 2010 and their Final Report on 16th November 2010. Both Reports were brought before Government. The Expert Group's Reports are available at www.finance.gov.ie and a complete list of all the recommendations is included in Chapter 2 of the Final Report.

Following a consultation process, the Central Bank published a revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) on 6th December 2010. The revised CCMA closely follows the recommendations of the Expert Group and applies to the mortgage lending activities of all regulated entities, except credit unions, operating in the State, including a financial services provider authorised, registered or licensed by the Central Bank of Ireland. This applies to subsidiaries which fall into this category and Haven Mortgages which the Deputy refers to.

The revised CCMA came into effect on 1 January 2011. Lenders are required to comply with the CCMA as a matter of law however they will be allowed a six month period of grace, ending on 30 June 2011, where the Central Bank of Ireland will be cognisant of issues relating to systems development, required staff training and other difficulties. Failure to comply with the revised CCMA may result in sanctions under the Administrative Sanctions Framework.

The most significant changes in the revised CCMA include:

Lenders will be prohibited from moving borrowers in arrears of existing tracker mortgages;

Borrowers in arrears who co-operate with the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) will not be charged penalty interest;

Harassment of borrowers through unsolicited communications will be outlawed;

Borrowers in financial difficulties, but not in arrears, will be allowed to come under the MARP.

Clarifying the existing 12 month moratorium on legal action in arrears cases.

Lenders representing the majority of the market have already indicated their willingness to implement the Expert Group's proposals for a Deferred Interest Scheme (DIS) or a variation of it and the remaining participants will be requested to do so. The Deputy will be aware from media reports that AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS, and Irish Life and Permanent are reported to have signed up to the DIS. The DIS is to apply to those homeowners unable to pay full interest on their mortgages but able to pay at least 66%.

I understand that ‘normal interest accrues on a mortgage, even it is is in arrears. Provision 9 of the CCMA states that lenders are restricted from imposing charges and/or surcharge interest on arrears arising on a mortgage account in arrears to which the CCMA applies in respect of which a borrower is co-operating reasonably and hoestly with the lender in the MARP.

Full details of the DIS are in the Final Report at pages 22 to 25, where the Deputy will note in relation to interest charges that deferred interest accumulates in a non-interest charging deferral account. While the DIS is voluntary for all lenders, those who have signed up in support of the scheme will be monitored by the Financial Regulator to ensure compliance. The Expert Group's recommendations are intended to be of benefit to both lender and borrower and it is assumed that lenders will cooperate and implement the recommendations or variations of them as soon as possible.

The Deputy may also wish to note that in addition to those recommendations being implemented through amendments to the CCMA, other recommendations relating to home owners with mortgage arrears will require legislative support involving my Department, the Departments of Social Protection (DSP), Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG).

In the case of my own Department, recommendations to do with the scope and the admissibility in Court of the CCMA will be examined in the context of the preparation of the second Central Bank Bill.

In order to implement those recommendations in relation to the mortgage interest supplement scheme (MIS) changes to both primary and secondary legislation will be required. The Department of Social Protection is currently developing an implementation plan that will set out a framework for the future of the scheme.

New regulations and guidance are currently being developed by DEHLG in the context of the social housing reform programme to provide that housing authorities could disregard the household's current accommodation for the purposes of determining eligibility for social housing support. I am informed that work is ongoing on the development of a new needs assessment process which will allow an earlier trigger point for the social housing needs assessment process to take place where a case has been determined to be unsustainable in the long term, following exploration of all other options.

Road Network

Leo Varadkar

Question:

240 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance his plans to carry out works in an area (details supplied) which is still in poor condition notwithstanding the works carried out in autumn 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48317/10]

Similar to many roads throughout the country, the recent extreme weather has taken a further heavy toll on the main road in the Phoenix Park with an increase in the number of potholes in the road surface. Since the holidays, seven tonnes of filler has been used to repair potholes on an emergency basis. The OPW has been examining options for a permanent solution to this problem. A number of surveys critical to the finalisation of the options were recently undertaken. The timing and scope of the works will necessarily be affected by the level of funding available.

Tax Code

Joan Burton

Question:

241 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on extending, under section 82 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, the deductibility of pre-trading expenses to those who incurred the expense as an individual but who subsequently incorporated as a company; if he views the current legislation to be in any way anomalous and his plans to deal with any such anomalies in the forthcoming finance Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48330/10]

Section 82 TCA 1997 provides that certain pre-trading expenses of a trade or profession are allowable in calculating the trading income of that trade or profession once it commenced. The relief applies to trades or professions, whether incorporated or not, which commenced on or after 22 January 1997. A deduction is only available for pre-trading expenditure in computing income under Cases I and II of Schedule D where it is incurred in the three years prior to commencement of the trade or profession and is wholly and exclusively laid out or expended for the purposes of the trade or profession.

While a deduction for pre-trading expenditure is available under section 82 TCA, the relief is conditional on the expenditure being of a type that would have been allowable in computing income under Case I or II of Schedule D had it been incurred after the commencement of the trade or profession. For the purposes of allowing the deduction, the allowable amounts are treated as having been incurred at the time the trade or profession commences. Allowable amounts are not available for set-off against income other than income from the trade or profession.

Pre-trading expenses related to a trade or profession may not be taken into account in calculating a loss to be set-off against other income. Any losses resulting from pre-trading expenses may only be carried forward for use against future income of the trade or profession.

Arguments can be made in favour of allowing this relief to individuals who incurred pre-trading expenses and who subsequently incorporated as a company. One argument may be that it is unreasonable to deny relief to the company in respect of such expenses in a situation where the bulk of otherwise allowable expenses were properly incurred by an individual prior to the formation of the company. On the other hand, under existing legislation the losses or expenses of a sole trader may not be transferred to a company on incorporation of the business. Moreover, difficulties could arise in devising a suitable legislative framework to enable companies to obtain relief for pre-trading expenses incurred prior to incorporation where there are a number of shareholders. If provision were to be made for this, for example, it might be necessary to put restrictions on the facility so that only expenses incurred by substantial shareholders would be allowed.

Another issue to consider in this context is whether it is appropriate to allow an expense incurred by one person (e.g. an individual) to be offset against the income of another separate person, in this case a company. After all, they are separate legal persons and the implications of proceeding down this road would have to be carefully considered.

I would take the view that the current legislation is not so much reflective of a situation that is anomalous but perhaps more reflective of the difficulties involved in drawing the line under what is reasonable and appropriate. I am not aware of any major difficulties being caused by the existing legislative provisions. I am, however, open to examining the detail of any particular problems in this area that may be put to me with a view to finding a possible resolution to those problems.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the basis for alleged underpayment of income tax in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48336/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the review for 2006 was issued in error. The person's record has been adjusted to cancel the underpayment and a revised certificate of tax credits and standard rate cut-off point for 2011 will issue to the person shortly to cancel the recovery of the underpayment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

243 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the way he proposes to address the issues set out in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48337/10]

I announced in the Budget that the necessary arrangements are being made to ensure that bets placed on the Internet by domestic punters are subject to the same level of betting duty as applies to high street betting shops. This will serve to broaden the tax base and increase betting duty receipts. It is the Government's intention to include provisions in the Finance Bill and to revise the Betting Act 1931 to provide that bookmakers taking bets from Ireland, notwithstanding what platforms are used i.e. Internet or otherwise, will pay the 1% betting duty. Betting Exchanges will also be subject to tax under the new arrangements, however the calculation of the tax will take account of their particular business model.

I am hopeful that by including the high-growth area of the betting sector the tax base from betting will be boosted significantly.

In addition, this measure conveys a positive signal to international betting operations that have expressed an interest in or have already invested in Ireland. A location with an appropriate licensing regime coupled with relatively low taxes provides real investment and employment opportunities in this sector, which ultimately can potentially be beneficial to all concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

244 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if a review can or will be taken in relation to proposed carbon tax on domestic fuels which will have implications on those who sell same to the domestic market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48338/10]

The carbon tax was applied to transport fuels, petrol and auto-diesel, from December 10, 2009. From 1 May 2010, the carbon tax was applied to kerosene, marked gas oil (also known as ‘green diesel' or ‘agricultural diesel'), liquid petroleum gas (LPG), fuel oil and natural gas. The third and final phase involves the application of the tax to coal and commercial peat, which is subject to a Ministerial Commencement Order. Solid fuels are subject to a commencement order so as to allow time for issues such as fuel poverty and the sourcing of coal of a lower environmental standard from Northern Ireland to be addressed. Progress is being made in this regard by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

245 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when a tax refund will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48339/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are contacting the taxpayer's employer for the details necessary to carry out reviews. The taxpayer's liability will be reviewed on receipt of the required details and any tax overpaid will be refunded.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

246 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the reason there is a 21 day holding period by Irish life and Permanent of British pensions paid by Irish citizens [48406/10]

I am advised by the institution that their policy for encashment of all sterling cheques — pension and non pension — is that a hold is placed on the cheque for 20 working days. The above number of days has been set to ensure there is a fair period where the Bank/customer is protected from ‘unpaid' items and that the customer is not inordinately penalised by not having access to the funds for a long period. ILP have indicated that on an individual account basis there is discretion within the Bank to pay against uncleared funds, and this can be used where the Bank considers it appropriate to allow a customer withdraw against an uncleared cheque.

Funds are immediately available where they are transferred electronically.

Dan Neville

Question:

247 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding tax credits in respect of a person (details supplied) [48418/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the individuals in question are a single male and a single female residing at the same address. The position is that there is no provision within the Tax Acts to allow for the transfer of tax credits from one individual to another in these circumstances.

Tax Reliefs

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

248 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the tax relief scheme for home insulation works announced in the budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48430/10]

Tax relief for Energy Efficiency Measures (REEM) was announced in the Budget and will be introduced in the forthcoming Finance Bill. It is intended that the relief will encourage individuals to invest in a range of works aimed at making their homes more energy efficient. The incentive will complement the grant aid that is available through various schemes currently operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. Standard rated tax relief will be available, on a subsequent year basis, on expenditure of up to €10,000 on a list of approved works. The total relief available in any one tax year will be €30 million which will allow for works to be carried out on a minimum of 15,000 homes.

Full details of the new incentive will be provided in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

249 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a claim in respect of a person (details supplied). [48530/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they met with the taxpayer in question on 21 December 2010 and that an agreement has been reached to the satisfaction of the taxpayer.

Dan Neville

Question:

250 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance if tax compliant details of a company (details supplied) can be provided to this Deputy. [48539/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the tax affairs of any individual/business are a confidential matter between that individual/business and the Revenue Commissioners. Accordingly, no details of compliance with statutory taxation requirements can be supplied to any third party, other than the authorized tax advisor, without the express approval of the individual/business. In general, payment of grants requires that the contractor/supplier holds a current tax clearance certificate. Persons intending to avail of a grant should therefore ensure that the contractor holds a current tax clearance certificate that will not expire before the anticipated completion of the work.

Alan Shatter

Question:

251 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance if he will apply the stamp duty changes on the acquisition of residential property introduced by him to those who completed house purchases in the period 1 November 2010 up to budget day and who paid a substantially greater sum by way of stamp duty than they would have incurred had such house purchases been completed after budget day; his views that such relief was provided for stamp duty changes introduced in 2007 in order to avoid unfairness and the reason such relief was not provided on this occasion. [48540/10]

The Stamp Duty reforms announced in the Budget have two aims: stimulation of the property market and commencing the necessary infrastructure for the commitment in the National Recovery Plan to introduce a Site Value Tax. As a result of the changes, Stamp Duty at a rate of 1% where the property value is under €1m and 2% on the excess above €1m, will now be payable on all residential property transactions. I have put in place a transitional arrangement: where a binding contract has been entered into before 8 December 2010, and the effect of this measure would increase the Stamp Duty otherwise chargeable, Stamp Duty can be calculated and charged under the old regime, so long as the instrument effecting the transfer of the property is executed before 1 July 2011.

I have no plans to make the changes suggested by the Deputy. The overall transaction costs for property transfers are now much lower than in recent years because of the decline in property values. I am aware that there will always be winners and losers in a situation such as this, but unfortunately this will happen no matter what date is chosen to commence any new measure. For example, if I followed the Deputy's suggestion and allowed individuals who completed house purchases after 1 November 2010 to avail of the new residential property Stamp Duty rates announced in the Budget, an individual who completed a property transaction on or before 31 October would not benefit. These persons might then seek a change to the date which would lead, in time, to further requests for changes to the date.

In 2007 it had been signalled before the election that First Time Buyer relief from Stamp Duty would be extended to all first time buyers. If this change had not been backdated to its original announcement, anyone who could have benefited from the change would not have bought property until the proposal was eventually enacted. No indication that a change was imminent was given before the change announced in Budget 2011.

Niall Collins

Question:

252 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if stamp duty is applicable to a transaction (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48550/10]

Section 83A of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 provides for an exemption from Stamp Duty where a parent transfers a site to a child to enable the child construct a dwelling house for use as his or her only or main residence. The value of the site must not exceed €500,000 and the size of the site must not exceed 1 acre (excluding the area of the house). As the Deputy is aware, I announced in Budget 2011 a major reform of the charge to Stamp Duty on residential property transactions, which applies to all instruments executed on or after 8 December 2010. These changes have simplified the system by lowering the rates applicable and abolishing a number of exemptions and reliefs, including Site to Child relief. The "Site to Child" relief from Capital Gains Tax is unaffected by the Budget changes. In the case of the transfer of a site from a parent to a child which takes place on or after 8 December 2010, Stamp Duty is chargeable on the value of the site transferred. The normal Stamp Duty liability arising on the transfer of a site valued at €60,000, at the rate of 4%, is €2,400. However, where the parties are related, as is the case here, the duty payable is restricted to 50% of the duty that would otherwise be payable. This liability is, therefore, reduced by 50% to €1,200 because of the parent/child relationship.

Joan Burton

Question:

253 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce supports or incentives to attract video game producers here through a BITES scheme or through the extension of the scope of the research and development tax credit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48553/10]

As I announced in the recent Budget, the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) will be replaced by the new Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) once the approval of the European Commission has been received. Under the new incentive, the lifetime limit that can be raised by companies will be increased from €2 million to €10 million, and the amount that can be raised in any twelve month period will be increased from €1.5 to €2.5 million. The certification requirements will also be simplified. Full details of the new incentive will be set out in the forthcoming Finance Bill. It would be expected that video game producers would qualify for the new incentive, as indeed they would for the existing BES, which will continue to operate until the new incentive has been approved by the European Commission.

In regard to extending the scope of the research and development (R&D) tax credit, the scheme already applies to basic research, applied research and experimental development. The R&D expenditure must be in a field of science or technology and involve systematic, investigative or experimental activities. The qualifying activities must also seek to achieve scientific or technological advancement and involve the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty.

Video games are essentially software development and would be a field of science and technology for the purposes of the scheme. If they satisfy the science test (an advance in a field of science and technology), which is the basis for most R&D incentive schemes in other countries too, they would qualify for the relief.

Banking Charges

Joan Burton

Question:

254 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance his views on moves in retail banking from the use of Laser cards, charged on a per transaction basis and Visa or Mastercard debit cards, charged on a percentage basis; his further views on whether Irish based retail banks may use the opportunities arising from reduced competition to significantly increase direct and indirect charges to customers for banking services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48555/10]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 59 of 7 December 2010. Fees may be charged to retailers by acquiring banks for the use of debit or credit cards. These charges include fees for items such as terminal rental, customer services and dispute resolution services. They are a function of and are determined by the interchange fees set by the payment card schemes for the participating acquirers. Interchange fees are paid by the merchant's acquiring bank to the cardholder's bank every time a payment card is used. While interchange fee levels vary depending on the type of payment card, the purpose is to reflect the real operating costs. I understand that certain international card schemes charge fees on the basis of a percentage of the value of the transaction rather than a per transaction fee as is the case with the Laser Card scheme (which is an Irish-based debit card scheme managed by the Irish Payment Services Organisation on behalf of those Irish banks that operate the Laser Card Scheme).

As Minister for Finance, I do not have any role in the regulation of such fees as they are a commercial matter between the given card scheme, the acquiring bank and their customers.

With regard to non-interest charges imposed by retail banks for banking services, all credit institutions, money transmitters and bureaux de change are required, under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 (as amended), to notify the Central Bank if they wish to impose new charges or increase existing charges for customers.

These charges are assessed by the Central Bank in accordance with the criteria laid down in the legislation as follows:

the promotion of fair competition between holders of authorisations and credit institutions;

the commercial justification submitted in respect of the proposal;

the impact new charges or increases in existing charges will have on customers, and

passing on costs to customers.

Having considered the proposed charge(s) under the assessment criteria set out in the legislation, the proposed charges are either rejected, approved at lower levels than requested by the entity or approved in full. Approvals are issued in the form of a letter of direction and the entity is legally bound to comply with this letter of direction. The letter of direction sets out the maximum amount the regulated entity is allowed to charge.

Tax Reliefs

Terence Flanagan

Question:

255 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will contact a person (details supplied) regarding the abolition of section 23 relief in budget 2011; if he will advise as to whether it is legal to take this relief away; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48556/10]

For the Deputy's information the person (details supplied) has been in contact with my Department and is being responded to in the normal way. In relation to the second part of the Deputy's question the measures relating to Section 23 relief announced in the Budget were the subject of legal advice.

Banks Recapitalisation

Arthur Morgan

Question:

256 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the funding that has gone into the recapitalisation of each of the guaranteed institutions to date; the extent of funds provided to each financial institution on foot of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill 2010; the full extent of future funds likely to be required by each institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1000/11]

The table sets out the amount of capital injected by the State into the Irish Banking System to date. The Central Bank has set out the further capital that will be required by AIB, BOI and EBS in order for them to meet a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011 as agreed in the Programme for Financial Support with the IMF, EU and the ECB.

Capitalisation of Credit Institutions

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Value of Promissory Notes Issued

Capital Provided to 31 December 2010

Additional CT1 required by Central Bank

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4.000

25.28

29.280

Allied Irish Banks

3.700

3.5

7.200

6.065

Bank of Ireland

1.700

1.8

3.500

2.199

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.100

5.30

5.400

EBS Building Society

0.625

0.25

0.875

0.438

Total

10.100

5.30

30.80

46.300

8.700

*Cash received on cancellation of Warrants.

These Central Bank estimates take account of all elements of the banks' loan books, including the mortgage loan books. It has taken a realistic view of the likely losses to mortgage lenders. Indeed, the loss rates that have been used in both the base and stress case scenarios are in excess of the latest official figures released by the Central Bank. Furthermore, the detailed review undertaken by the external authorities of the financial status of the Irish banks and, in particular, of the Central Bank's PCAR exercise was an important part of the technical discussions underpinning the negotiated package of assistance with the IMF and our European partners. As part of the agreement with the EC, IMF and EU the State has agreed to adopt deleveraging measures and to implement restructuring of the banking sector. To this end, a Prudential Liquidity Assessment Review or "PLAR" will establish target funding ratios for each of the banks, identify non core assets and set an adjustment path to these targets based on specified non public annual benchmarks.

The completion of the Central Bank's PCAR/PLAR exercise will determine the requirement for any future capital support required by the banks.

Departmental Properties

Billy Timmins

Question:

257 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding premises (details supplied) rented in view of the fact that the owners of some premises include developers who are in NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1013/11]

Billy Timmins

Question:

258 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding leases on premises (details supplied) that are owned by developers who are in NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1014/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 257 and 258 together.

Government Departments, Offices and Agencies lease premises primarily from the Office of Public Works but also from a range of landlord companies, some of whose loans may have transferred to NAMA. Where a lease has been signed, legally binding contractual obligations clearly come into existence. These obligations cannot unilaterally be set aside without creating a breach of contract.

Details about rent paid to individual landlords annually and details regarding the duration of individual leases cannot be divulged for reason of commercial sensitivity.

Tax Collection

Joan Burton

Question:

259 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of interest bearing deposit accounts here, and their value; the number of interest bearing deposit accounts here exempt from DIRT, and their value; the amount of DIRT accruing to the State in the most recent tax year; the amount of DIRT foregone by the State in the most recent tax year on DIRT exempt accounts; the single largest instance of DIRT foregone by the State in the most recent tax year; the number of individuals to whom DIRT-exempt interest in the sum of €1m or more accrued in the most recent tax year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1047/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) on interest bearing deposits is returned on a twice yearly basis by financial institutions: in October of the tax year in question and the following January. The total value of DIRT due and paid and the total number of DIRT exempt interest bearing accounts is reported to Revenue on the January returns at institutional level. Returns for 2010 are due by 15 January 2011. Revenue does not have complete details on interest bearing deposit accounts here and their value. Separately, under regulations as provided for in Section 891B of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, certain financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, are required to make automatic annual returns at account level electronically to Revenue. The information under S891B is provided where the total payment of interest is greater than €635 in a year, regardless of deduction of DIRT, and in all instances of a first interest payment irrespective of threshold for accounts opened on or after 1 January 2008. These returns include DIRT exempt accounts. Returns for 2010 are due by the end of March 2011.

The total number of interest bearing deposit accounts reported under the regulations for 2009 is 1,272,899. The total value of interest paid to these accounts for 2009 is €3,203,923,841.71. Financial institutions reported 93,100 such accounts as being exempt from DIRT. Revenue does not have data on the value of DIRT forgone in respect of such accounts.

The amount of DIRT collected by the State in the most recent tax year (2010) to date is €446 million approximately. The amount of DIRT collected in 2009 was €614 million approximately.

The EU Council Directive 2003/48/EC of 3 June 2003 on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments, commonly known as the "Taxation of Savings Directive", introduced a system of information sharing between tax authorities in respect of interest payments from 1 July 2005. The purpose of the Directive is to ensure that interest payments made in one EU Member State to an individual resident for tax purposes in another Member State are taxed in accordance with the laws of the latter.

Under this Directive the Revenue Commissioners provides information regarding interest payments made by Irish paying agents to individuals resident in other EU Member States. DIRT is not paid on these accounts. A detailed breakdown of the information reported under the Directive is not currently available.

Universal Social Charge

Joan Burton

Question:

260 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the 2012 and full year cost to the Exchequer of increasing the zero-rate threshold for the universal social charge by €100; the 2012 and full year cost to the Exchequer of increasing the 4% rate threshold for the universal social charge by €100; and the 2012 and full year cost to the Exchequer of increasing the 7% rate threshold for the universal social charge by €100. [1050/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the costs to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, of increasing the proposed thresholds as suggested by the Deputy are set out as follows:

increasing the lower exemption threshold by €100 from €4,004 to €4,104 would cost €0.4 million in 2011 and €0.5 million in a full year.

increasing the middle threshold by €100 from €10,036 to €10,136 would cost €6.5 million in 2011 and €9 million in a full year.

increasing the upper threshold by €100 from €16,016 to €16,116 would cost €3.5 million in 2011 and €5 million in a full year.

It should be noted that these changes have been individually costed and if the three measures were taken together the overall aggregate cost as a package could vary from the sum total of the three individual costs.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

The Revenue costing model is not currently in a position to provide corresponding estimates in terms of 2012 incomes.

Joan Burton

Question:

261 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the 2012 and full year cost to the Exchequer of reducing the lower universal social charge rate by 1%; the 2012 and full year cost to the Exchequer of reducing the higher universal social charge rate by 1%; the 2012 and full year revenue which would be raised by introducing a third higher rate for the universal social charge on single incomes of more than €100,000, and dual incomes of more than €200,000, at rates of 8%, 9%, 10%, 11%, 12%, 13%, 14% and 15% on that part of income which is above the relevant threshold [1051/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the costs to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, of reducing the proposed rates as suggested by the Deputy are set out as follows:

reducing the lower USC rate of 2% to 1% would cost €160 million in 2011 and €220 million in a full year.

reducing the 4% rate to 3% would cost €80 million in 2011 and €110 million in a full year.

reducing the 7% rate to 6% would cost €325 million in 2011 and €465 million in a full year.

These changes have been individually costed and if the three measures were taken together the overall aggregate cost as a package could vary from the sum total of the three individual costs.

The Universal Social Charge is an individualised charge and as such the yields are calculated for individual incomes of more than €100,000 rather than dual incomes of more than €200,000. On that basis, the estimated Exchequer yields from introducing new higher rates ranging from 8% to 15% to replace the existing 7% rate on single incomes in excess of €100,000 are set out as follows:

a new rate of 8% would yield €40 million in 2011 and €70 million in a full year.

a new rate of 9% would yield €80 million in 2011 and €140 million in a full year.

a new rate of 10% would yield €120 million in 2011 and €205 million in a full year.

a new rate of 11% would yield €160 million in 2011 and €275 million in a full year.

a new rate of 12% would yield €205 million in 2011 and €345 million in a full year.

a new rate of 13% would yield €245 million in 2011 and €415 million in a full year.

a new rate of 14% would yield €285 million in 2011 and €480 million in a full year.

a new rate of 15% would yield €325 million in 2011 and €550 million in a full year.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

The Revenue costing model is not currently in a position to provide corresponding estimates in terms of 2012 incomes.

Banks Capitalisation

Joan Burton

Question:

262 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the subscribed capital of the Central Bank of Ireland; the total size of the balance sheet of the Central Bank; if he is satisfied that the Central Bank is sufficiently capitalised or if he plans to increase its subscribed capital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1052/11]

I am advised by the Central Bank that its capital and reserves stand at €1.5 billion (of which €50,790 is subscribed capital, fixed under Section 9(1) of the Central Bank Act 1942). I am further advised that the Central Bank's total balance sheet stood at €205.45 billion as at 31 December 2010; this is a provisional figure subject to the finalisation of year-end accounts.

The Central Bank of Ireland, as part of the European System of Central Banks, is subject to particular arrangements for the sharing of income and risks throughout the Eurosystem. With regard to the sufficiency of the Central Bank's own capital, this is kept under review.

Tax Code

Chris Andrews

Question:

263 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the payment of stamp duty in respect of a person, a first time buyer (details supplied) in Dublin 6. [1058/11]

As the Deputy is aware, I announced in Budget 2011 a major reform of the charge to Stamp Duty on residential property transactions, which applies to all instruments executed on or after 8 December 2010. These changes have simplified the system by lowering the rates applicable and abolishing a number of exemptions and reliefs. The changes in rates are as follows:

Stamp Duty rates on transfers of residential property up to 7 December 2010

Aggregate Consideration

Rate of Duty

First €125,000

0%

Next €875,000 (up to €1m)

7%

Excess over €1,000,000

9%

New Stamp Duty rates on transfers of residential property from 8 December 2010

Aggregate Consideration

Rate of Duty

First €1,000,000

1%

Excess over €1,000,000

2%

In order to broaden the tax base, a number of reliefs and exemptions have been abolished as follows:

First Time Buyer's Relief;

Relief from Stamp Duty on new houses under 125 sq metres;

Reduced Stamp Duty on new houses over 125 sq metres

Consanguinity relief in respect of residential property transfers;

Exemption for residential property valued under €127,000; and

Site to child relief.

There is also a transitional measure in place, for circumstances where the effect of these changes is to increase the Stamp Duty payable on the transaction. Stamp Duty can be paid under the old regime where a binding contract is in place before 8 December 2010 and the instrument is executed before 1 July 2011.

The Deputy asked about an individual who paid a deposit for a residential property in November 2010. If a legally binding contract to purchase the property was in place before 8 December 2010, that person can avail of the Stamp Duty rates that were in place before Budget 2011, or can opt to avail of the new rates, whichever is more beneficial. If there was no legally binding contract the new rates of Stamp Duty will apply. It should be noted that, for a contract to be legally binding, it is not necessary for it to be set out in writing. The individual's solicitor should be able to advise whether a legally binding contract was in place at that time.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Question:

264 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if a person leaving the civil or public service to take up a position in the private sector can transfer their pension contributions made as a civil or public servant to their new occupational pension scheme. [1064/11]

The vast majority of pension schemes in the Civil and Public Service are Defined Benefit (DB) schemes which are funded by the Exchequer on a ‘pay-as-you-go' basis. Unless it is required under the Family Law Acts, pension contributions or accrued pension benefits may not be transferred by a Civil or Public Servant to the private sector. On leaving the Civil or Public Service, accrued benefits are preserved for the individual until they reach normal preserved pension age.

Property Transfers

Joe Carey

Question:

265 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the actions he has taken and those he proposes to take in relation to his stated policy of pursuing to the ends of the earth those that have transferred property and have loans in the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1076/11]

I am aware that the Chairman of NAMA has recently outlined a range of measures which the Agency is adopting in its drive to ensure that debtors meet their obligations. In return for NAMA's ongoing support, NAMA requests from Debtors significant lifestyle changes, the reversal of asset transfers and the granting to NAMA of legal charges over unencumbered assets. I am informed that three debtors have already agreed to the reversal of some €130m in asset transfers as part of their business plan review with NAMA.

In relation to asset transfers, in circumstances where it is obvious that the purpose of an asset transfer, whether to a spouse or otherwise, was a pre-emptive attempt to put assets beyond the reach of NAMA, NAMA has a number of statutory remedies available to it. These include the provisions of the Conveyancing Act, the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 and Section 211 of the NAMA Act which provides that NAMA may apply to a Court to declare a disposition to be void if it can show that the effect of the disposition was to impair the value of an eligible bank asset or any rights that NAMA would have acquired but for the disposition.

Ultimately, where the evidence available to NAMA is that a debtor has failed, as part of a sworn statement, to disclose all his assets as part of the debtor business plan process, he will be faced with very serious consequences as it would be an offence under section 7 of the NAMA Act. NAMA has made it very clear that it will not work with debtors who fail to co-operate fully and openly with it. NAMA will also pursue through the courts debtors who fail to co-operate with it in terms of agreeing to the reversal of asset transfers or to the granting of legal charges over unencumbered assets where NAMA believes that assets were intentionally put beyond its reach.

Commemorative Events

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

266 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider the issue of a euro-denominated commemorative coin, in either €5 or €10 denominations, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 2016, that the coin be used both as a presentation item and also on sale to the general public; and in view of the fact that the issue of such a coin would require the approval of the European Central Bank, will he also make a decision in the near future to ensure that a design competition could be initiated in order to have the coin available by the start of 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1088/11]

The issue of a euro denominated commemorative coin is among the initiatives being considered in relation to the Centenary of the Easter Rising. The Commemorative Programme for the Centenary of the Rising is under development at present at official level and will be progressed with an all party Oireachtas consultation group under the chairmanship of Mr. Tony Killeen T.D., Minister for Defence.

Approval from the ECB is not required to issue this type of coin. It is not envisaged that the design process will commence before 2014. The decision on the denomination and the specifications of the coin and whether it will be gold or silver will also be decided on at that point.

National Solidarity Bonds

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

267 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he will now reassure potential investors on the benefit to them of the four and ten year national solidarity bonds in view of the decision to cancel section 23 relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1089/11]

In Budget 2010, I announced the Government's intention to launch a 10 year National Solidarity Bond, the purpose of which is to allow citizens an opportunity to invest and provide money to the State to stimulate economic recovery and to assist in the maintenance and creation of employment. The necessary legislative basis was provided in the 2010 Finance Act and the Bond, which was launched on Tuesday 4 May 2010, has been very successful with some €350m invested by 16,200 customers during 2010. In Budget 2011, I announced the introduction of a new, four-year, National Solidarity Bond to complement the ten-year National Solidarity Bond. The bond will pay a coupon each year and a bonus for those who hold the bond to maturity.

All State savings which are managed by the National Treasury Management Agency are a direct unconditional obligation of the Irish Government and the Government is committed to repaying all State Savings without any limit.

As regards Section 23 reliefs, the Government committed in the Joint Programme for Government to ending unnecessary tax reliefs. The measures announced in the Budget for 2011 will achieve the phased abolition of the property-based "legacy" tax reliefs, including Section 23 relief, and will eliminate the remaining cost of such schemes to the Exchequer.

Tax Collection

Pat Breen

Question:

268 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the revenue generated by the carbon tax in 2010; if he will outline the spending of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1103/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners the revenue received from the carbon tax is €246.5 million in 2010. The breakdown by each fuel type between the carbon tax and the estimated VAT is as follows:

2010 Jan. to Dec.

Carbon Tax

Estimated VAT

Total

€m

€m

€m

Auto Diesel

98.4

2.1

100.5

Petrol

65.1

13.7

78.8

MGO

27.0

3.6

30.6

Kerosene

17.0

2.3

19.3

Fuel Oil

1.6

1.6

LPG

2.6

0.3

2.9

Natural Gas

11.3

1.5

12.8

Total

223.0

23.5

246.5

The revenue will, amongst other things, be used to boost energy efficiency, to support rural transport and to alleviate fuel poverty.

Revenue Correspondence

Paul Kehoe

Question:

269 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the status of the request for assistance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1104/11]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the action it took in this instance followed a failure by the person concerned to engage with Revenue. Revenue has not received any request for assistance from the person concerned. The person concerned should make direct contact now with Revenue with a view to all matters being resolved.

International Monetary Fund

Leo Varadkar

Question:

270 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 141 of 16 December 2010, the reason he claims that the International Monetary Fund interest rate of 5.7% when Mr. Ajai Chopra of the IMF says that it is 4.1%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1124/11]

IMF lending is denominated in the Fund's unit of account, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). The SDR comprises a basket of four currencies, Euro, Sterling, the US Dollar and Japanese Yen. The IMF's lending rate is based on the three month floating interest rates for the currencies in the basket. The IMF's interest rate is a floating rate that is linked to the SDR interest rate with some surcharges applied on top of that. The way this works is that the interest rate depends on the amount borrowed and for how long it is outstanding. This is the rate that applies to all member countries of the IMF and this is a formula that applies to all member countries. It is not a number that is case specific. The IMF have two different types of loan facilities. One is for low-income countries that qualify for concessional financing, and the other is the regular facility and that is what Ireland is borrowing under so that the formula for the interest rate does not change

Quota subscriptions generate most of the IMF's financial resources. Each member country of the IMF is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative position in the world economy. A member country's quota determines its maximum financial commitment to the IMF, its voting power, and has a bearing on its access to IMF financing.

In relation to the clarification sought by the Deputy, under the Extended Fund Facility arrangement which applies in Ireland's case, the basic rate (of charge) is based as stated above on the fluctuating SDR rate currently 33 bps to which a margin is added that is fixed annually in May, currently 100 bps, and a burden sharing element currently 1 basis point. Surcharges are added to the basic rate and, in Ireland's case, these amount by definition to 300 bps for credit outstanding above 300% of Quota after thirty-six months resulting in an overall cost of funds of 4.34% (for the first thirty-six months this surcharge for credit outstanding above 300% of Quota is 200 basis points). If the relevant IMF rate is technically swapped into fixed rate Euro of 7.5 years duration, it corresponds to the average interest of 5.7% quoted at the date of the EU-IMF Agreement. This expresses the IMF interest rate in terms which can be compared with the cost of borrowing from EU sources. Both interest rates equate to the same cost of funding.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

271 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the amount spent by his Department on opinion polling and focus group research in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1175/11]

My Department did not incur any such costs during the years 2007-2010.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

272 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of mobile telephones paid for by public bodies under his remit in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1190/11]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

273 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of mobile telephones paid for by his Department in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the total cost of paying mobile telephone bills in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1205/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 272 and 273 together.

The table sets out the total number of mobile telephones paid for and the total costs of paying mobile phone bills by my Department and by public bodies under my remit in each of the past four years (2007 to 2010).

In the time available the Office of Public Works was unable to provide the information requested. The information is being collated by that office and will issue directly to the Deputy.

The costs included for the Special EU Programmes Body are co-funded by the Department of Finance & Personnel and in some cases by the EU. Accordingly a maximum of 50% of the costs included for that body are borne by my Department.

2006

2006

2007

2007

2008

2008

2009

2009

2010

2010

Office

Number

Cost

Number

Cost

Number

Cost

Number

Cost

Number

Cost

(€)

(€)

(€)

(€)

(€)

Office of the Minister for Finance

185

69,851

206

93,634

195

84,954

167

57,499

155

53,148

Office of the Ombudsman

10

3,965

10

3,417

8

4,284

9

3,376

9

3,480

Valuation Office

76

31,852

89

46,824

92

43,086

98

31,478

90

27,438

State Laboratory

8

3,779

8

3,951

7

2,040

4

1,043

4

1,036

Office of the C&AG

20

5,879

20

4,990

18

4,815

19

3,714

15

2,872

Offices of the Appeals Commissioner and of the Revenue Commissioner

1,013

320,862

1,091

421,314

1,191

404,925

1,255

371,546

1,278

335,362

Public Appointments Service

41

19,947

41

19,074

42

21,583

41

20,623

27

14,523

Commission for Public Service Appointments

6

2,015

6

2,085

6

2,072

6

2,013

3

206

Special EU Programmes Body

12

10,092

14

11,912

20

18,325

20

17,531

20

13,840

Public Service Agreement

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

274 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the discussions he has had with public service unions in relation to strengthening performance management and delivery systems in the Civil Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1213/11]

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 contains a commitment "to introduce significantly improved performance management across all Public Service areas, and following the current review, the Performance Management and Development System will be strengthened with promotion and incremental progression linked in all cases to performance and the implementation of appropriate systems to address under-performance, including, where appropriate, training or, where necessary, through disciplinary procedures". In the civil service work is well underway on achieving this goal. The 2010 Evaluation of PMDS has been completed. Negotiations with the Unions have commenced in relation to how the PMDS can be strengthened. A meeting of the sub-committee of General Council on PMDS on which the Unions are represented took place on 2 December 2010 and further meetings are planned for early 2011.

Performance management in the civil service is already linked to promotion and to incremental progression and the systems in place to address underperformance are now being assessed.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

275 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the allocated funding and expenditure of the Central Bank Commission in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1232/11]

Primarily the allocation of funds within the Central Bank is a matter for the Bank itself. Full details of the Bank's income and expenditure are set out in its 2009 Annual Report. I have been advised by the Central Bank that for the most recent audited period outturn data for 2010 has yet to be finalised. Prior to the commencement of the Central Bank Reform Act 2010 on 1 October 2010, I approved the Financial Regulators Statement of Income and Expenditure for 2010 under section 33N of the Central Bank Act, 1942. The Statement showed the Regulatory Authority which was then a constituent part of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (CBFSAI) would have overall operating expenses of €78.079 million in 2010. The Bank proposed that €41.240 million would be raised by means of levies imposed on the financial services industry with the balance of €36.839 million to be met by way of subvention by the CBFSAI.

Following commencement of the 2010 Act section 33N of the Central Bank Act 1942 is replaced by a new procedure whereby the role of the Minister for Finance is limited to approving regulations made by the Bank each year to impose levies on financial service providers for the purpose of funding financial regulation.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

276 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the total remuneration awarded to the chairperson, deputy chairperson and lay members of the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the allocated funding and expenditure of the tribunal in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1233/11]

The Central Bank Act, 1942 as amended by the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003 provided for the establishment of the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal (IFSAT). IFSAT is an independent body providing for appeals against certain decisions made by the Central Bank (formerly by the Financial Regulator) including administrative sanctions. The Act provides for the appointment of two executive members i.e. the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson and no fewer than one and no more than five lay members.

The Chairperson's Remuneration for the years 2007 to 2010 are as follows:

Year

Fees

2007:

Administrative Fees:

48,528.00

Hearing Fees:

9,099.00

Total:

57,627.00

2008:

Administrative Fees:

34,374.00

Hearing Fees:

Nil

Total:

34,374.00

2009:

Administrative Fees:

24,264.00

Hearing Fees:

5,580.72

Total:

29,844.72

2010:

Administrative Fees:

24,264.00

Hearing Fees:

930.12

Total:

25,194.12

The Deputy Chairperson's Remuneration for the years 2007 to 2010 are as follows:

Year

Fees

2007:

Administrative Fees:

26,426.40

Hearing Fees:

1,101.10

Total:

27,527.50

2008:

Administrative Fees:

18,796.05

Hearing Fees:

Nil

Total:

18,796.05

2009:

Administrative Fees:

13,267.80

Hearing Fees:

7,120.39

Total:

20,388.19

2010:

Administrative Fees:

13,267.80

Hearing Fees:

Nil

Total:

13,267.80

The Lay Members' Remuneration for the years 2007 to 2010 are as follows:

Year

Fees

2007:

Administrative Fees:

Nil

Hearing Fees:

€12,328.80

Total:

€12,328.80

2008:

Administrative Fees:

Nil

Hearing Fees:

Nil

Total:

Nil

2009:

Administrative Fees:

Nil

Hearing Fees:

€10,106.84

Total:

€10,106.84

2010:

Administrative Fees:

Nil

Hearing Fees:

€1,214.40

Total:

€1,214.40

Budget and expenditure details are as follows:

Year

2007

Budget: €452,630

Expenditure: €193,343

2008

Budget: €488,230

Expenditure: €107,419

2009

Budget: €419,166

Expenditure: €123,814

2010

Budget: €529,602

The Tribunal's Accounts for the year 2010 have not been prepared at this time and consequently the expenditure figure is not available.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

277 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the remuneration and expenses awarded to members of the following State boards and agencies in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010: the Civil Services Disciplinary Appeals Board, Credit Union Advisory Committee, Decentralisation Implementation Group, Financial Services Ombudsman Council, Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, National Development Finance Agency, National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission, Outside Appointments Board, Public Appointments Service Board and Sealuchais Arachais Teoranta; the allocated funding and expenditure of each board or agency in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1234/11]

Following is the information requested by the Deputy.

Civil Service Disciplinary Appeals Board

The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Civil Service Disciplinary Code Appeals Board are the only members of the Appeals Board to receive a fee. The current fees per sitting day are €752.40 and €416.36 respectively. The majority of appeals are heard in one sitting day. The following are the rates and amounts actually paid.

Record of payments to Chairperson

Year

Amount Paid

Comment

2007

Nil

2008

€5,130 (€855 per diem)

Six appeals heard in six sitting days (two in respect of 2007)

2009

€12,825 (€855 per diem)

Nine appeals heard in fifteen sitting days (two in respect of 2008).

2010

€1,504.80 (€752.40 per diem)

Two appeals heard in two sitting days

Record of payments to Deputy Chairperson (role created 1 January 2009)

Year

Amount Paid

Comment

2009

Nil

2010

€866.36 (€450 and €416.36 per diem)

Two appeals heard in two sitting days ( one in respect of 2009)

Financial Services Ombudsman Council

Year

Remuneration

Council Expenses

2007

Chairman €24,000

€40,714

Member €14,000

2008

Chairman €24,000

€23,802

Member €14,000

2009

Chairman €22,400

€8,994

Member €13,067

2010

Chairman €21,600

€6,500 (Approx)

Member €12,600

Estimate and Costs of Decentralisation Implementation Group 2007-2010

Years

2007-2010

2010

2009

2008

2007

Estimate*

193,850

8,900

4,950

90,000

90,000

Remuneration including Employers PRSI

137,857

3,882

26,350

61,239

46,386

*Initial Annual Allocation.

Credit Union Advisory Committee (CUAC)

2007

2008

2009

2010 *

Fees

16,900.00

16,900.00

16,900.00

5,351.65

Expenses incl. lunch/other

15,570.97

14,496.23

11,424.67

349.45.00

Allocated funding

80,000.00

50,000.00

46,000.00

16,000.00

Expenditure

37,621.24

36,557.57

29,594.84

5,701.10

*CUAC was re-established in early September 2010, therefore the figures for 2010 cover only 4 months and there have been no payments made for expenses claims as the only member to claim has as yet not provided sufficient detail to be set up on our system.

Sealuchais Arachais Teoranta

No comparable information is available for Sealuchais Arachais Teoranta which is a holding company.

National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) Commission

The fees and expenses of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission, which are charged to the National Pensions Reserve Fund, were as follows:

2007

2008

2009

2010*

fees

281,934

285,691

276,064

222,749

expenses of NPRF Commission

52,467

55,019

8,788

15,399

*Figures in respect of 2010 are preliminary and unaudited.

The principal component of fees and expenses of the NPRF is investment management fees paid to third-party investment managers.

National Development Finance Agency (NDFA)

The NDFA performs its functions through the NTMA. The associated costs are included in the administration expenses of the NTMA and are charged to the Central Fund. The figures for 2007 to 2009 were as follows:

2007

2008

2009

2010

NDFA

€4.4m

€7.7m

€7.3m

n.a.*

NDFA Board

— Fees

€84,000

€84,000

€81,900

€75,600**

— expenses

*Not yet available

**Preliminary and unaudited.

Fees and expenses with regard to infrastructure projects in which the NDFA is involved are recharged to the procuring State authorities and are not included in the above figures.

Remuneration and Expenses awarded to PAS Board

Year

Remuneration

Expenses

Total

2007

34,651.32

0.00

34,651.32

2008

27,543.55

136.00

27,679.55

2009

29,902.00

5.40

29,907.40

2010

28,800.00

0.00

28,800.00

The Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

The Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal is hosted by the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH),

Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin on behalf of the Department of Finance. The cost of the Board has been recouped to the NRH since 2005 from the Department of Finance Vote.

The amounts recouped to the NRH in the years 2007 to 2010 are shown below. These amounts include the salary costs of the Chairperson of the Board who also works as a consultant with the NRH and Beaumont Hospital.

The Medical Board of Appeal deals with appeals under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme. It constitutes a Chairperson and a panel of medical doctors. In addition to the Chairperson, two doctors from the panel attend each Appeal Board sitting. The latter doctors are paid a session rate per hearing, locum cover and travel and expenses where appropriate; for example in 2010 the overall total cost of such payments amounted to around €29,200.

All appointments to the Medical Board of Appeal are made by the Minister for Finance on the nomination of the Minister for Health and Children and are for a period of 4 years.

Years

Original Allocation

Expenditure/Amount recouped

Consultant/ Chairpersons Salary

Session rate per Doctor per hearing

2007

300,000

285,539

180,511

235/330 per half day

2008

330,000

320,323

187,344

660 per full day

2009

300,000

371,467

226,460

607.20 per full day

2010

350,000

311,548

189,059

607.20 per full day

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

278 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the allocated funding and expenditure of the State Claims Agency policy committee in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1235/11]

The State Claims Agency (SCA) is a function of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The administrative costs incurred by the NTMA in the performance of this function, which include the fees and expenses of the State Claims Agency Policy Committee, are included in the administration expenses of the NTMA and are charged to the Central Fund—

2007

2008

2009

2010

Administrative costs

€7.2m

€7.5m

€7.8m

n.a.*

of which:

fees

€41,578

€35,553

€32,378

€43,425**

expenses of SCA Policy Committee

€1,426

€1,426

€1,470

€270**

*Not yet available.

**Preliminary and unaudited.

Universal Social Charge

Paul Kehoe

Question:

279 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if persons receiving social welfare payments are exempt from the universal social charge; if persons receiving a social welfare payment from another country are exempt, for example, a person over 70 years receiving a UK state pension; if not, can they be included in the list of exemptions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1246/11]

The position is that payments made under the Social Welfare Acts and payments that are of a similar nature, including social welfare payments made by authorities in other countries such as a UK social security pension, are exempt from the Universal Social Charge (USC). However, where an individual has both social welfare-type payments and other income, the other income will be liable to the Universal Social Charge once it exceeds the annual entry threshold of €4,004. While there is no general exemption from the USC for individuals aged over 70 years, such individuals will pay USC, on any non-social welfare type income, at the rate of 2% on the first €10,036 of income and at a rate of 4% on income above that amount. Other individuals will pay USC at the rate of 2% on the first €10,036 of income, a rate of 4% on the next €5,980 of income and a rate of 7% on the remainder of their income.

Public Service Agreement

Denis Naughten

Question:

280 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the steps taken to date on the implementation of the Croke Park agreement; the implementation plans for 2011; the specific measures which will be taken at local government level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1253/11]

The Public Service Agreement (Croke Park Agreement) provides a sustainable framework to manage the provision and delivery of our essential public services in a period of unprecedented pressure on public resources. In this regard, the Exchequer Pay Bill will be approximately 8% less in 2010 over 2009 while the number of public servants has reduced by almost 12,000 since March 09, resulting in significant savings in the public service paybill. Further savings targets for 2011 of €310m, and a reduction in numbers to 301,000 as set out in the Budget Estimates, now form part of the allocation for each Department and Agency over the coming year. The delivery of the required savings, including payroll savings, will be monitored closely, including by reference to the implementation of the Croke Park Agreement.

Specific measures planned for the Local Government sector are included in the Action Plan for that sector which is published on the website of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Implementation Body for the Agreement requested the various sectors, including the Local Government sector, in December last to revise their Action Plans to take account of the targets in the National Recovery Plan and the allocations made under Budget 2011. These revised plans are due to be submitted this week. The Implementation Body will be seeking to ensure that the plans deliver the necessary savings and efficiencies to meet the Government's requirements under the National Recovery Plan.

EU-IMF Fund

Martin Ferris

Question:

281 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if it would be possible for this Government, or an incoming Government, to renegotiate the interest rate on the funding made available from the EU as part of the recent EU-International Monetary Fund package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1320/11]

It is important to understand that while there has always been the possibility under the EU-IMF Programme for this Government or any new Government to substitute alternative measures within the programme where they are as economically efficient and of equal fiscal effect and that the agreed size and speed of the budgetary adjustment is maintained, the position in relation to the interest rate charged is different. The interest rate for funding from the IMF and the various EU funding lines were determined by a common approach for any borrower. Accordingly, any changes to these rates cannot be negotiated for Ireland in isolation and must be seen in the wider context. We must bring realism to the debate about our financial difficulties. I agree with recent comments in this regard by the Governor of the Central Bank, Professor Honohan to the effect that there must be "a clearer understanding of what is possible and what is not possible to be done".

It is important to note that the (blended) interest rate on the loans to be provided to Ireland is at a far lower cost than would be available to Ireland in the financial markets. It is designed to avoid overburdening the Member State concerned or acting as an impediment to economic growth while at the same time providing an incentive to return to the markets. At present the yield on Irish government bonds is just below 9% in the secondary markets. We will not be obliged to drawdown any of these loans if there is an opportunity to return to the markets at sustainable rates or we can access funds at lower cost elsewhere.

Tax Reliefs

Finian McGrath

Question:

282 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine and support a proposal on forced lay-offs (details supplied). [1326/11]

As stated in my response to the Deputy's previous question in this matter, the decision to abolish the relief was taken in the light of a recommendation to this effect by the Commission on Taxation. The Commission's views on this relief were quite definitive. It found that it had not had the desired impact on innovation and R&D activity and, that despite various refinements to the scheme over the years, suggested that the relief was not a particularly well-targeted measure providing good value for money. The Commission also expressed the view that the relief had not resulted to any great extent in companies carrying out R&D activity and that it was being used in some cases by companies "as a tax avoidance device to remunerate employees". Abolition of the patent income exemption will yield €50 million to the Exchequer in a full year and this is provided for in the National Recovery Plan.

The Government agrees with the conclusions of the Commission and believes that in the current challenging times scarce resources should be focused instead on the R&D tax credit scheme. The R&D credit scheme provides a more direct and effective incentive for enterprises to innovate and invest in R&D activities and the scheme has been enhanced considerably in recent years to make it one of the most competitive of its kind anywhere.

The Business Expansion Scheme is also available to help small and medium sized companies raise risk capital investments from private investors. As you may be aware, I announced in the recent Budget that this scheme will be replaced by an Employment Investment Incentive once the approval of the European Commission has been received. The new incentive will provide an increase in the limits that companies can raise as well as a simplified certification requirement. Full details will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Business Regulation

Mary Upton

Question:

283 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 108 of 1 December 2010, the number of occasions in each of the past five years that the Revenue Commissioners have published notices of a cancelled licence, as provided by section 23 of the Auctioneers and House Agents Act 1947; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1338/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under the Auctioneers and House Agents Acts 1947 to 1973 licences are issued to auctioneers and house agents by their Office. I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under the provisions of section 18 of the Auctioneers and House Agents Act 1947, whenever a Court cancels or suspends a licence or an auction permit, or declares a person to be disqualified from holding a licence, or confirms, annuls or varies any cancellation, suspension or disqualification, the registrar or clerk of the Court shall inform the Revenue Commissioners. Section 23 of that Act provides that the Revenue Commissioners shall, as soon as may be after the cancellation of a licence or an auction permit, publish inIris Oifigiúil notice of the cancellation.

For the years 2006 to 2010 inclusive, the Revenue Commissioners have no record of having received a notification from the Courts under the provisions of section 18 of the Auctioneers and House Agents Act 1947 and, accordingly, they have not published any notices of cancelled licences for the years in question.

Tax Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

284 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the pension levy (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1339/11]

As outlined in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 (published 24 November 2010), the Government decided, in the context of present budgetary constraints, that it would be appropriate for some retired public service pensioners to make a contribution to required financial adjustments. This decision was taken having regard to the gap between the burden being borne by those currently in public service employment (where the pension related deduction (PRD) and pay reduction have impacted) and those in retirement. The Government also took into account the general reduction in prices: CPI is now at 2007 levels, whereas public service pensioners received general round increases of 2% in June 2007, 2.5% in March 2008 and 2.5% in September 2008 — providing an increase in the real value of public service pensions.

Accordingly, in Budget 2011 (on 7 December 2010) I announced that public service pensions above €12,000 a year would be reduced by an average of 4%. The reduction required legislation to be passed before the end of 2010 and, having being passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010, giving effect to the measure on and from 1 January 2011, was signed into law on 22 December 2010.

Denis Naughten

Question:

285 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 130 of 14 December 2010, if he will outline the consideration given to the upper Shannon rural renewal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1348/11]

The mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme provides for capital allowances to be available in relation to tourism infrastructure facilities. The allowances are for qualifying construction and refurbishment expenditure incurred in the qualifying three-year period. The Scheme is subject to the measures relating to property-based reliefs as announced in the Budget.

Further detail in relation to such schemes will be included in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Public Service Contracts

Denis Naughten

Question:

286 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if companies (details supplied) currently have public contracts; the value of such contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1349/11]

The Department of Finance does not maintain information centrally about the individual contracts awarded by each public contracting authority, so I am not immediately aware whether the particular companies about which the Deputy is enquiring at present hold any public sector contracts. However, I will seek to have the data sought by the Deputy ascertained, and I will communicate with him as soon as may be.

Agreements with Members

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

287 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the discussions he had with Independent Deputies (details supplied) in advance of budget 2011; the resulting changes, if any, in the Government’s arrangements with those Deputies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47127/10]

As Minister for Finance, I receive representations from many deputies supporting the government, and indeed some opposition deputies, about budgetary matters at budget time. I had discussions on these matters with many of these deputies. Ultimately, decisions on budgetary matters are a matter for the Government.

Tax Code

Arthur Morgan

Question:

288 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance if he will describe the new business investments targeting employment schemes that are replacing the business expansion scheme; the way the two schemes differ; when European Commission approval for the scheme will be received; when the new scheme will be operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45500/10]

As I announced in the recent Budget, the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) is being replaced by the new Employment and Investment Incentive (EII). Under the new incentive, the lifetime limit that can be raised by companies will be increased from €2 million to €10 million, and the amount that can be raised in any twelve month period will be increased from €1.5 to €2.5 million. The certification requirements will also be simplified. Full details for this new incentive will be available in the forthcoming Finance Bill. The new incentive will become operational once the approval of the European Commission has been received. Pending the receipt of this approval, the existing BES will continue to operate.

It is not possible to stipulate when the approval of the European Commission will be received. However, it is hoped that a favourable decision will be made in as short a time-frame as possible.

National Recovery Plan

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

289 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if he will make a statement on the publication of the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014. [45171/10]

The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 was published on 24 November 2010 and provides a blueprint for a return to sustainable growth in the Irish economy. In particular, the Plan sets out the measures that will be taken to restore order to our public finances. Adjustments of nearly €15 billion have already been implemented over the past two and a half years and, as the recent end-2010 Exchequer Returns show, these measures have succeeded in stabilising the budget deficit. An additional €15 billion package of measures is required to bring the deficit back below 3% of GDP by 2014. Budget 2011 represents the first step in the implementation of that programme and, taking account of the €6 billion adjustment package, projects a General Government deficit of 9.4% of GDP by the end of this year. In this regard, it is positive to note that the end of year figures that my Department reported on last week, showed the public finances being marginally better than had been planned for in 2010.

Reducing the budget deficit is necessary, but it will not, by itself, solve our economic difficulties. We must grow our economy by improving our competitiveness and build on our strong export performance. The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 also identifies the areas of economic activity which will provide growth and employment in the recovery and specifies the reforms the Government will implement to accelerate growth in key sectors of the economy.

A range of specific policy actions will further support the process of recovery. These can be broadly categorised as follows:

labour market reforms to remove barriers to employment and disincentives to work;

reforms to improve the non-labour elements of cost competitiveness;

supportive sectoral policies to assist recovery across the enterprise base.

These policy actions will support the export recovery, which can, in turn, deliver high value employment and act to stimulate the domestically trading sectors of the economy. Given that Ireland is a small open economy, sustainable growth in the long-term must be export-led.

Question No. 290 answered with Question No. 74.

Insurance Industry

Willie Penrose

Question:

291 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the way he plans to implement the commitment contained in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 to identify further ways to tackle increases in insurance costs, building on the achievements of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45533/10]

I am considering how best to implement the commitment contained in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 to identify further ways to tackle increases in insurance costs, building on the achievements of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). The experience of the PIAB suggests that significant savings can be achieved compared with the prior adversarial approach and I am anxious that lessons are learned from this experience. I am aware of the increased pressure on insurance premiums in recent times particularly in the household insurance area. Much of this is due to the unprecedented level of claims which the insurance industry suffered in the winter of 2009/2010. The insurance industry estimated that, between the November 2009 flooding and the big freeze at the start of 2010, they have paid out about 550 million euro worth of claims. The industry has put the level of claims in further context by indicating that the insured cost of these two weather events exceeded the total cost of all serious weather events that have occurred in the last decade. This cost was estimated at 358 million euro. A further increase in claims is expected as a result of the recent inclement weather.

Even in advance of the weather-related claims, market analysts had identified and reported on a number of important market developments that were expected to lead to upward pressure on premiums. For example, the 2009 Standard & Poors report on the non-life insurance market warned that the next few years were likely to mark a testing time for Irish non-life insurers. In particular, the report highlighted that underwriting profitability would become much more important due, for example, to the volatility of global stock markets, amongst other factors. The report noted the importance of price discipline to ensure the long-term economics of the insurance marketplace.

Finally, the Deputy might wish to note that neither the Central Bank nor I, in my role as Minister for Finance, can prohibit or restrict an insurance company from increasing its annual premium rates. This is a commercial decision for the company in question based on an assessment of the risks involved.

Ministerial Appointments

Liz McManus

Question:

292 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Finance his plans to appoint a chief information officer; the reasons for the delay in making this appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44988/10]

As I advised the House on 21 October 2010, the Government has approved the appointment of a Chief Information Officer. Work has been underway in my Department to give effect to this decision. This work includes consultations with other Departments on the precise terms of the job description. Once this has been completed the actual recruitment process will commence.

Flood Relief

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

293 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the reason the publication of the report into the feasibility of introducing a national flood warning system has been delayed until next year in view of the enormous hardship caused by flood damage throughout the country last year and the enormous cost to the economy as a result of lost business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44390/10]

The Fourth Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment Heritage and Local Government — The Management of Severe Weather Events in Ireland and related matters was published in July 2010. This report made a number of recommendations which included the provision of flood early warning systems, a matter relevant to the remit of the OPW.

Prior to the publication of the report of the Joint Committee in July, the OPW had, already, commissioned a strategic review of options for flood forecasting and flood warning in Ireland. The review has a very wide scope covering flood forecasting and flood warning systems internationally, and the feasibility and applicability of such systems to Ireland. A comprehensive review of the options available to meet national circumstances will take approximately one year to complete. I am satisfied that the review process is on schedule.

Tax Code

Joe Costello

Question:

294 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the range of Government taxes applied to air travel here at present; if he is satisfied that these taxes are properly applied by the airlines; if he will consider abolishing the punitive €10 passenger air travel tax; if the opening of Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 on Friday 19 of November would be a suitable occasion to make such an announcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43024/10]

In accordance with section 55 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2008, an air travel tax is levied on air travel. Subject to some exceptions, the tax is charged at the rate of €2 per passenger in the case of a flight from an airport in the State to another airport located not more than 300 kilometres from Dublin Airport and at the rate of €10 per passenger in all other cases. The yield from the air travel tax in respect of the nine months it was in place in 2009 was €84.4 million and the yield in 2010 was €104.6 million — total €189 million. Almost all the fuel used for commercial air travel is jet kerosene, which is exempt from excise duty.

As regards VAT, the position is that the transport of passengers and their accompanying baggage is exempt from VAT by virtue of paragraph 14(3) of Schedule 1 to the Value-Added Tax Act 1972.

I do not accept that the air travel tax has a material impact on tourism numbers. Prospective visitors will base their choice of destination on a range of issues. These will include the cost of travelling to a destination but are more likely to be influenced by the cost structure within that destination, and the range of activities and visitor attractions on offer.

However, taking account of some of the comments made last year, I announced in the Budget a single revised rate of air travel tax of €3 with effect from 1 March 2011 and will assess the impact of this to see if passenger numbers are affected.

Joe Costello

Question:

295 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 30% to 40% of costs to the haulage industry come from fuel costs; his views on whether hauliers should have a special fuel regime similar to that of farmers with red diesel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42719/10]

Joe Costello

Question:

296 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if he proposes to retain the current carbon tax on the haulage industry; his views on the Irish Road Haulage Association proposal to allow hauliers to apply the carbon tax charge on their services similar to the manner in which VAT is invoiced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42718/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 295 and 296 together.

I have no plans to exempt any sector from the carbon tax or to introduce a special low excise fuel scheme for the haulage industry. The only reliefs from the carbon tax are for those companies that participate in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Illicit Trade in Fuel

Joe Costello

Question:

297 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the extent of illegal operators and fuel smuggling in border areas; the steps he has taken to confront the problem; the extent to which fuel smuggling and illegal operators create issues for the haulage industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42717/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of mineral oil tax and for tackling the illicit trade in mineral oil products that they are aware of the various illegal activities that lead to a loss to the Exchequer of mineral oil tax. The most serious risk in this regard is the large scale laundering of markers from mineral oil, [including marked ultra low sulphur gas oil (ULSGO)], which is subject to a reduced rate of mineral oil tax on condition that it is not used in road vehicles. Such activity is usually carried out in remote rural locations. The Deputy will appreciate that, due to its nature, it is impossible to provide a reliably accurate estimate of the extent of any illegal activity. The Revenue Commissioners are committed to tackling mineral oil fraud. Their goal is to prevent a loss of revenue to the state and at the same time to ensure that a level playing pitch exists for the benefit of legitimate trade interests, including the road haulage industry. In this regard Revenue employs a broad range of compliance and enforcement strategies to detect illicit practices involving mineral oils. These strategies include ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, development and sharing of intelligence with agencies on both sides of the border, development of analytics and deployment of detection technologies, optimum deployment of resources to intercept illicit product and to prosecute those involved, conduct of intelligence driven operations using covert surveillance to identify oil laundry locations and also physical sampling at selected road checkpoint locations.

Revenue enforcement officers are deployed at key locations along the border. The staff are regularly augmented by additional staff from other areas when specific operations are organised. While the physical environment and separation of law enforcement in border areas is exploited by criminals to conduct this illegal activity, the Commissioners advise me that such operations are not solely confined to those areas. This is borne out by two recent detections of oil laundries on farms in the midlands.

Revenue's operations are under continuous review. The Revenue Commissioners are presently reviewing the existing marker system and are exploring the introduction of new markers as well as new detection equipment.

For the past two years Revenue has played an integral role as part of a cross border multi-agency Organised Crime Task Force which has been set up specifically to deal with the illicit trade in mineral oil in the border area. Members of this group include Revenue, An Garda Síochána and various law enforcement agencies from Northern Ireland. Since its inception it has successfully targeted a number of illegal operators in the border area. In one such cross-border operation, in April 2009, three oil laundering plants were detected in Armagh, with consequential seizures of over 100,000 litres of fuel in Monaghan. These multi-agency operations are in addition to daily enforcement activity.

In 2010 Revenue enforcement staff detected four laundering plants in this jurisdiction and seized a total of 268,000 litres of laundered fuel. These cases are under active investigation and it is Revenue's intention to initiate criminal proceedings and prosecute individuals where sufficient evidence of involvement is established.

Also in 2010 there were 1,192 detections in individual motor vehicles of the illicit use of mineral oil, resulting in the seizure of 167 vehicles. There were 222 criminal convictions for such offences resulting in Court penalties of €678,150. A further number of these cases were settled by means of compromise penalties amounting to €669,778.

A provision was enacted in Finance (No 2) Act 2008 enabling Revenue to raise assessments on companies and individuals in respect of evaded excise duty on excisable products, including mineral oils.

The penalties provided under the Finance Acts for conviction for mineral oil related offences are on summary conviction €5,000, and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months and on conviction on indictment up to €126,970. The latter penalty, which was enacted in the Finance Act 2010, represents a significant increase on the previous penalty of €12,695.

Tax Code

Joe Costello

Question:

298 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance if he will abolish the punitive €10 passenger air travel tax; if the opening of Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 on Friday, 19 November 2010 would not be a suitable occasion to make such an announcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42738/10]

I do not accept that the air travel tax has a material impact on tourism numbers. Prospective visitors will base their choice of destination on a range of issues. These will include the cost of travelling to a destination but are more likely to be influenced by the cost structure within that destination, and the range of activities and visitor attractions on offer. However, taking account of some of the comments made last year, I announced in the Budget a single revised rate of air travel tax of €3 with effect from 1 March 2011 and will assess the impact of this to see if passenger numbers are affected.

Richard Bruton

Question:

299 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the cost of retaining patent relief as a more targeted tax concession, perhaps by capping the benefit or in other ways; and if he will indicate whether a cost-benefit analysis of the charge has been undertaken. [1421/11]

The tax exemption for patent income has been in place for over 30 years and has applied to income received by an individual or company from a qualifying patent subject, since 2008, to an annual limit of €5 million. A tax exemption has also applied, subject to certain conditions, to distributions paid by companies from exempt patent income. These exemptions have been abolished with effect from 24 November 2010. The decision to abolish the relief was taken in the light of a recommendation to this effect by the Commission on Taxation. As part of its review of all tax expenditures, the Commission on Taxation examined the relief for patent income to determine if its continued operation was justified on cost benefit grounds. The Commission found that the relief has not had the desired impact on innovation and R&D activity and that, despite various refinements to the scheme over the years, it was not a particularly well-targeted measure providing good value for money.

The Government agrees with the conclusions of the Commission and believes that in the current challenging times scarce resources should be focused instead on the R&D tax credit scheme. The R&D credit scheme provides a more direct and effective incentive for enterprises to innovate and invest in R&D activities and the scheme has been enhanced considerably in recent years to make it one of the most competitive of its kind anywhere.

Abolition of the patent income exemption will yield €50 million to the Exchequer in a full year and this is provided for in the National Recovery Plan. Alternative options for curtailing the relief were considered in the context of the Plan, such as limiting the tax free payment to a fixed amount per annum. While capping the benefit or restricting it in other ways, as suggested in the question, would provide some savings, it would still mean a significant cost to the Exchequer and would be difficult to justify on the basis that it would provide tax-efficient means for remunerating employees.

It was not considered necessary to undertake a cost benefit analysis for the abolition of this exemption as it was included in the Commission on Taxation review of tax expenditures on which the Commission made a recommendation.

Banking Sector Regulation

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

300 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify a numbers of matters (details supplied). [1432/11]

The recent €3.7 billion investment in AIB was made only after the High Court, on my application, made a direction order to AIB for the issuance of additional share capital in the Bank to ensure that the bank continued to meet its capital requirements as prescribed by the Central Bank. The direction order was made in accordance with the provisions of Section 9 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 following my application, as Minister for Finance, that such an order should be made. I am advised that it is permissible to release a copy of the Court Order and I will arrange for a copy to be sent to the Deputy by my officials.

The High Court has ordered that there be no publication or reporting of particular paragraphs of the Affidavit. It is not possible or appropriate, therefore, to release the full unredacted Affidavit.

Both the application that the matter be heard otherwise than in public under Section 60 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act (and the reasons advanced), as well as the application for the direction order itself were heard in camera by direction of the Court. It is not appropriate, therefore, for me to detail the reasons for the application under Section 60, which provides that "[t]he Court may order that any application under this Act, or any part of such an application, shall be heard otherwise than in public or may impose restrictions with regard to the disclosure in open court, publication or reporting of any material that might be commercially sensitive".

As is evident from the redacted version of the Affidavit which has been released, AIB was informed in advance that I would be making an application under the Act and consented to the making of a Direction Order by the Court.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

301 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied). [1458/11]

The position is that the Universal Social Charge applies to all emoluments of an employment, including anything treated as a taxable benefit-in-kind. The Universal Social Charge is applied to aggregate income before granting relief in respect of pension contributions. In this regard, an individual's personal contributions to a personal retirement savings account (PRSA), personal pension contribution, additional voluntary contribution or a retirement annuity contribution is disregarded for the purposes of determining the Universal Social Charge that an individual must pay.

In addition, an employer contribution to a personal retirement savings account (PRSA) is chargeable to Income Tax in the hands of the employee as a benefit-in-kind under section 118 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. As the Universal Social Charge treatment follows the Income Tax treatment, the employer's contribution to the personal retirement savings account will also be subject to the Universal Social Charge.

Section 778 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, provides that an employer contribution made to an approved retirement benefit scheme or a statutory scheme is not treated as a benefit-in-kind for Income Tax purposes. Again, as the Universal Social Charge treatment follows the Income Tax treatment, any employer's contribution to such schemes will not be subject to Universal Social Charge.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

302 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider the introduction of a price levy on a litre of petrol and diesel as an alternative to road tax which would ensure that everyone pays their fair share, based on how much they drive, increase Government income, reduce administration and make motoring costs fair and reasonable to all; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1460/11]

The Deputy's proposal favours tax revenue being solely based on usage of a car, through fuel consumption, rather than ownership upon which motor tax is determined. This is often argued as the most favourable option from an environmental perspective as it embraces the ‘polluter pays principle'. In an Irish context motor tax revenue is allocated to local authorities so this complicates the proposal somewhat.

In addition, motor tax (and VRT) have been reformed in recent years in order to stimulate interest in low emission cars which in turn has led to enhanced sales of more fuel efficient vehicles. This development has been welcomed by both motorists and the motor trade. Consequently it would seem premature to effectively reverse this significant policy change at this early juncture. Furthermore, replacing the revenue collected from VRT and motor tax would require a significant increase in excise duty on petrol and auto-diesel.

Joan Burton

Question:

303 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out the VAT treatment of books, newspapers, e-books, online newspaper subscriptions and online information services; his plans to change the VAT treatment of any such products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1468/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In so far as the supply of printed matter is concerned, three different rates may apply. The general position is that books are zero-rated, newspapers and periodicals are subject to VAT at the reduced rate (currently 13.5%) and stationery and other printed matter are liable at the standard rate (currently 21%). The zero rate applies to printed books, including atlases, children's picture, drawing and colouring books and books of music. The reduced rate applies to newspapers and periodicals, including sectoral publications (sports, fashion, etc.), holiday brochures, prospectuses, catalogues and maps. The standard rate applies to a wide range of printed goods, including stationery, calendars, greeting cards, diaries, yearbooks and posters.

All digitised publications, regardless of their rate when printed (for example, a book liable at zero rate), are treated as the supply of a service liable at the standard rate of VAT. E-books, online newspaper subscriptions and online information services purchased via download over the Internet are also considered the supply of services liable for VAT at the standard rate. The EU position is that digital information services are not the direct equivalent of traditional printed products, including books. Even where the content is similar, the additional functionality (e.g. search facilities, hyperlinks, archives etc) associated with electronic content produces a fundamentally different product.

I have no immediate plans to change the VAT treatment of books. However, as stated in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, it is the Government's intention to examine further rebalancing of the VAT system and zero rated VAT items within the context of wider and ongoing EU level consideration of the matter. The VAT system is continually being reviewed at EU level and Ireland is part of that process.

Joan Burton

Question:

304 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the mechanism by which section 23 relief on investment properties is to be phased out over the next four years; if detailed measures are expected to be contained in the 2011 Finance Bill; the extent to which stakeholders are to be consulted on these changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1472/11]

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

307 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the changes to the section 23 tax relief scheme in the forthcoming Finance Bill; his views on whether the withdrawal of the scheme represents a breach of contract; his further views on whether persons who entered into contracts based on the taxation position of the time should be given a reasonable time to ensure they do not get into financial difficulty or become bankrupt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1476/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 304 and 307 together.

The changes to section 23-type reliefs announced in the Budget and which are contained in Financial Resolution No. 20 are broadly as follows.

Firstly, for chargeable periods ending on or after 1 January 2011, section 23-type relief will be restricted to set-off against rental income only from the section 23 property itself. Up until now this set-off could be against all rental income in that year.

Secondly, unused section 23-type relief previously available for carry forward beyond the 10 year "normal life" of the relief will be lost.

Thirdly, where a person sells a section 23 property within the 10 year period at any time on or after 1 January 2011, the new owner will get no section 23 relief.

Fourthly, for unused section 23 properties that are, as yet, unsold, the relevant 10 year period for these properties would normally begin once the property is sold and let under a qualifying lease. The Budget change provided that where any of these properties have yet to commence qualifying leases as of 30 June 2011, the 10-year period will commence on that day.

I also announced in the Budget that a guillotine will be introduced to terminate all unclaimed and unused capital allowances, arising after, or carried forward from 2014 as well as unused section 23 relief carried forward from 2014. However, an impact assessment will be undertaken into the effects of the phased abolition of the property-based measures and the guillotine provision. This guillotine provision, which is intended to take effect at end-2014 is not contained in any of the Financial Resolutions passed on Budget Day and will be provided for in future legislation. The arrangements for the impact assessment, and any consultation mechanisms involved have yet to be made.

Further details regarding these measures will be set out in the forthcoming Finance Bill.

My officials have received a wide range of submissions and met with a broad spectrum of stakeholders (including industry groups and professional bodies) in relation to the changes set out in the National Recovery Plan and announced in the Budget.

The measures announced were subject to legal advice.

Deputies will be able to input their views on the proposed changes as part of the normal Finance Bill process. I look forward to all constructive proposals on this matter.

Joan Burton

Question:

305 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the mechanism by which there is to be a phased reduction in tax relief on pension contributions over the next four years; if detailed measures are expected to be contained in the 2011 Finance Bill; the extent to which stakeholders are to be consulted on these changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1473/11]

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. It is intended that the reduction in tax relief of 7% each year from 2012 to 2014 will be given effect by the Budget and Finance Bills for each of those years. As announced in my 2011 Budget Statement, certain changes including the application of employee PRSI and the Universal Social Charge to employee pension contributions, take effect from 1 January 2011. The PRSI change has been legislated for in the Social Welfare Act 2010 while the provisions relating to the Universal Social Charge will be included in the 2011 Finance Bill which will be published shortly.

The National Recovery 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. However, it is willing to engage with the sector to examine alternatives to the changes put forward in the Plan in order to deliver this outcome and this engagement has commenced.

Banking Sector Regulation

Joan Burton

Question:

306 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the position in respect of bonus or bonus like payments made by Bank of Ireland to staff since the introduction of the original blanket bank guarantee in September 2008; if the data which was not available in respect of Bank of Ireland for the preparation of parliamentary reply No. 156 of 16 December 2010 has since become available and, if so, will he provide this data; if Bank of Ireland has changed the designation of any payments which are supplementary to basic pay to commission, inducements, loyalty payments and so on; the number of such payments and the amount of same that have been paid by Bank of Ireland since the bank guarantee was first introduced; if such payments are foreseen for 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1474/11]

I have been informed that information given to my Department by Bank of Ireland to the effect that no performance related bonuses were paid to staff was incorrect. It did not take account of contractual bonuses which probing by my Department revealed did in fact have a performance element. This failure by the bank led to erroneous information being placed on the Dáil record on 1 December 2010. The CEO of Bank of Ireland has written to my Department acknowledging the difficulties caused as a result of this misinformation and apologising unreservedly for it. I have been undertaking, as a matter of urgency, an intensive investigation of the additional payments made by Bank of Ireland since the introduction of the guarantee scheme and of additional payments which it may have intended making in the future. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that the verification by my Department of all the relevant information supplied by the bank necessarily involves a substantial amount of time. On completion of this investigation I will make available to the Deputy, and the House, whatever additional information comes to light.

As I have previously stated, I do not accept that substantial sums ought to be paid in bonuses to senior staff of banks dependent on State support. Contractual obligations have in the past restricted my ability to deal with this issue in relation to pre-agreed payments or conditions of employment, but the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 provides in Section 51 that in certain circumstances I, as Minister for Finance, may impose conditions on the provision of further State support to a Credit Institution. In particular I may impose conditions regarding the payment or non-payment of performance bonuses. I have already made clear in the AIB case that I will impose such conditions and I can assure the Deputy that I intend to adopt a similar approach to the provision of support to Bank of Ireland.

Question No. 307 answered with Question No. 304.

Legal Services

Alan Shatter

Question:

308 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 the arrangements entered into by his Department for the obtaining of advice from a firm of solicitors and or from senior or junior counsel; in each case the subject matter in respect of which advices were sought, the name of the solicitors firm and or barristers concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned, that is, whether it involved the drafting of legislation or the obtaining of legal advices; whether in each case the matter concerned was advertised for tender and where not, why not. [1622/11]

Alan Shatter

Question:

310 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance with regard to legal services used by his Department, any Body under the aegis of his Department and any State agency for which he is responsible; if he will give details of the legal services of which there has been competitive tendering in each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; the legal firm in each case that furnished advice with regard to any such tendering and assisted in the preparation of tender documents and in each case to detail the solicitors firm who succeeded in each tendering process, the nature of the work for which each firm successfully tendered and the fees paid for any such advice or assistance to each firm for work for which it tendered. [1652/11]

I propose to take Question Nos. 308 and 310 together.

In general, My Department uses the Services of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. However it seek outside legal advisers in circumstances requiring legal services of a specific nature. The costs associated with the Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Chief State Solicitor are borne by their respective votes.

The following table sets out the details requested by the Deputy:

Legal advice sought for which no tender competition was held

Year

Legal advice sought from

Reason

Fees paid

2006

Arthur Cox*

To independently review the standard forms of contract

10,890

2006

Max Abrahamson*

To independently review the standard forms of contract

30,250

2006

A & L Goodbody**

To provide legal advice and commentary on training material

7,348

2008

Arthur Cox ***

Advice relating to Bank guarantee scheme

12,308,777

Fees cover period 2008-2010

*Eminent independent Irish contract lawyer engaged to carry out peer review of new public works contracts.

**The expert legal drafter of public works contracts was engaged to verify the accuracy of the training consultants training material in regard to contracts.

***Normal procurement procedures were not followed because of the urgency of the issue.

Legal advice provided following tender process

Year

Legal advice sought from

Reason

Fees paid

2006

Matcheson Ormbsby Prentice

Advice relating to general supplies and service contracts

25,549

2007

A & L Goodbody

Advice relating to sale of ACC bank

112,050

2008

McCann Fitzgerald

Advice relating to procurement of air/transport agency services

48,400

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, following an open tender process undertaken in 2009, Revenue entered into contracts with six firms of solicitors to provide legal services associated with debt collection and recovery. The contracts came into operation with effect from 1 January 2010 and will remain in force for six years.

I understand that Revenue took particular care to ensure that the open tender process fully adhered to public procurement guidelines. To assist in the tender preparation process, Revenue utilised the services of Messrs. Philip Lee, Solicitors, Dublin and Messrs. Cyril O'Neill, Legal Cost Accountants, Dublin.

The six firms of solicitors, and the total amount of fees paid to each of the firms in 2010, are listed in the table below. Another firm, George V. Maloney, that completed work for Revenue in 2010 under the terms of a previous contract, is also included.

Name of Firm

Fees paid

Holmes O’Malley Sexton, Limerick

716,246

Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co, Dublin

1,095,244

Lavelle Coleman & Co, Dublin

239,378

Mason Hayes & Curran, Dublin

615,068

Matheson Ormsby Prentice, Dublin

712,809

Pierse & Fitzgibbon, Listowel

730,065

George V. Maloney, Cavan

639,838

Total

4,748,648

The National Asset Management Agency held the following tender competitions for legal services in the 2009 and 2010. In May 2009 a tender competition was held to appoint a legal adviser to advise and assist the NTMA in its preparatory work in structuring NAMA and to ensure that enabling legislation was fit for purpose. No legal firm was employed in the running of the tender process. The successful tenderer was Arthur Cox. The work tendered for involved providing legal advice in relation to NAMA's corporate framework, the planning and design of the legal framework for participation in NAMA and advice on legal issues which will be incorporated into the draft legislation, including the following areas:

legal structure of NAMA; state owned company or statutory body corporate;

legal structures for NAMA and NAMA sponsored SPVs;

banking and regulatory issues;

constitutional and administrative law issues;

asset transfers — legal requirements and options;

asset management — options for servicing, restructuring and disposal;

enforcement of security — legal requirements and options;

legal relationships with participating banks, syndicate banks and other stakeholders;

formulation of standard term sheet and conditions for participation;

design of due diligence process for asset transfers;

design of documentation for asset transfers;

design of servicing agreements and other matters ancillary to participation;

The fee received by Arthur Cox for the work carried out amounted to €911,250.

On the 31 July 2009 a further tender competition was held to procure a panel of suitably qualified and experienced Irish qualified legal advisers to advise and assist the National Treasury Management Agency ( and on its establishment, the National Asset Management Agency) in carrying out legal due diligence on the Irish assets that will be acquired by NAMA( i.e. loans and other security documents governed and construed in accordance with Irish law). No legal firm was employed in furnishing advice with regard to the tender process. The list of 67 firms selected to provide due diligence services are listed in the following table.

Firms

Alfred Thornton & Company

McKeever Taylor

Andrew Crean-Lynch Solicitors

MG Ryan & Co

Arthur Cox

Michael Houlihan & Partners

Babington Croasdaile Solicitors

Murphy Mac Namara & Co

BCM Hanley Wallace Solicitors

Murray Flynn Maguire

Beauchamps Solicitors

MW Keller & Son Solicitors

Brian O’Donnell & Partners

Nolan Farrell & Goff

Callan Tansey Solicitors

O’Flynn Exhams Solicitors

Cathal N Young O’Reilly & Co

O’Rourke Reid law firm

Comyn Kelleher Tobin Solicitors

Orpen Franks Solicitors

Dermot g O’Donovan Solicitors

O’Sullivan Barnicle

Dillon Eustace

O’Sullivan & Associates Solicitors

Donnegans Solicitors

O’Sullivan Partners

Eugene F Collins

P J O’Driscolls & Solicitors 41

Eversheds O’Donnell Sweeney

P J O’Driscoll & Sons 73

Fitzgerald Solicitors

P O’Connor & Son Solicitors

G & D Walsh Solicitors

Richard Black Solicitors

Gallenalliance

Ronan Daly Jermyn

Gartlan Furey Solicitors

Sheehan & Company

Gore & Grimes

Smith Foy & Partners

Hayes Solicitors

Stephen MacKenzie & Company

Hegarty & Armstrong Solicitors

Stone Solicitors

Holmes O’Malley Sexton

Sweeney McGann

Ivor Fitzpatrick & Company

T P Robinson Solicitors

James Riordan & Partners

V P Shields

Kane Tuohy

Vincent & Beatty Solicitors

Kilfeather & Co

Whitney Moore

Lavelle Coleman

William Fry

Lavery Kirby Gilmartin Solicitors

Lennon Heather Solicitors

Lewis C Doyle

Liston & Co

LK Shields

Maples & Calder

Mason Hayes & Curran

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors

McDowell Purcell Solicitors

McGuire Desmond

The nature of the work to be carried out by the successful companies was as follows : — Review of bank due diligence reports and making recommendations to NAMA based on such review

Making further due diligence enquiries in connection with certain assets

Updating due diligence to the date of acquisition and dealing with any material adverse change issues

Dealing with legal issues in the completion process in coordination with NAMA's other professional advisers.

The due diligence reports submitted by the Participating Institutions include the following fields of enquiry in respect of loans and underlying security:

1. Summary of the facility

2. Default status

3. Hedging arrangements

4. Security arrangements

5. Corporate capacity and authority

6. Security registration

7. Inter-lender agreements

8. Development and construction matters including planning and environmental

9. Litigation and disputes

10. VAT and other taxes

11. Ancillary reporting of occupational leases, agreements for.

The fees paid to the successful tenderers are outlined in the following table:

NAMA Legal due diligence panel fees

Name of Firm

Amount paid to 10/1/2011

Arthur Cox

€1,338,327

Byrne Wallace

€604,746

Dillon Eustace

€453,780

EFC

€245,334

Eversheds

€380,049

LK Sheilds

€376,849

Beauchamps

€288,752

Gartlan Furey

€38,802

RDJ

€75,645

Maples

€552,628

Mason Hays Curran

€57,511

MOP

€350,580

William Fry

€59,534

A&O

£869,318

Lovells

£932,893

Tod Murray

£12,925

On the 31st March 2010 the National Asset Management Agency held a tender competition seeking to appoint panels of suitably qualified and experienced Irish and UK qualified legal advisers to advise and act for NAMA in Enforcement and refinancing matters. No legal firm was engaged in the tendering process. The list of successful tenderers is as follows:

NAMA Legal Enforcement and Refinancing Panel

Panel — Ireland Enforcement Group 1

A&L Goodbody

Arthur Cox

Byrne Wallace

Eugene F Collins

Eversheds O’Donnell Sweeney

Gartlan Furey

Maples and Calder

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

McCann Fitzgerald

Whitney Moore

William Fry

Panel — Ireland Enforcement Group 2

A&L Goodbody

Arthur Cox

Byrne Wallace

Eugene F Collins

Eversheds O’Donnell Sweeney

Gartlan Furey

Hayes Solicitors

Lavelle Coleman

LK Shields

Maples and Calder

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

McCann Fitzgerald

McDowell Purcell

Ronan Daly Jermyn

Whitney Moore

William Fry

Panel — UK Enforcement Group 1

A&L Goodbody

Allen & Overy

Arthur Cox

Ashurst

Brodies

Burness

C&H Jefferson

Carson McDowell

Denton Wilde Sapte

DLA Piper

Dundas & Wilson

Herbert Smith

John McKee & Son

Lovells LLP

Simmons & Simmons

Taylor Wessing

Tods Murray LLP

Tughans

Panel — UK Enforcement Group 2

A&L Goodbody

Allen & Overy

Arthur Cox

Brodies

Burness

C&H Jefferson

Carson McDowell

Denton Wilde Sapte

DLA Piper

Dundas & Wilson

Eversheds

John McKee & Son

Lovells LLP

MacFarlanes LLP

Nabarro

Simmons & Simmons

Taylor Wessing

Tods Murray LLP

Tughans

Wragge & Co LLP

Panel — UK Refinancing Group 1

A&L Goodbody

Allen & Overy

Arthur Cox

Brodies

Burges Salmon

Burness

Carson McDowell

Clifford Chance

Denton Wilde Sapte

DLA Piper

Dundas & Wilson

Eversheds

Herbert Smith

John McKee & Son

Lovells LLP

Nabarro

Olswang

Simmons & Simmons

Slaughter and May

Taylor Wessing

Tods Murray LLP

Tughans

Panel — UK Refinancing Group 2

A&L Goodbody

Allen & Overy

Arthur Cox

Brodies

Burges Salmon

Burness

Carson McDowell

Clifford Chance

Denton Wilde Sapte

DLA Piper

Dundas & Wilson

DWF LLP

Eversheds

John McKee & Son

Lovells LLP

MacFarlanes LLP

Nabarro

Olswang

Simmons & Simmons

Taylor Wessing

Tods Murray LLP

Tughans

Wragge & Company

The nature of the work to be undertaken by the successful tenderers was as follows:

Enforcement Category

Enforcement of any security, guarantee, indemnity or surety held by NAMA in respect of assets that will be acquired by NAMA including but not limited to the following legal areas.

1. The requirements of and options under the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 for NAMA to best meet its statutory objectives;

2. Insolvency law;

3. Litigation;

4. Land and Conveyancing Law in Ireland, UK and other jurisdictions; and

5. Banking and Commercial Law

Refinancing Category

Finance restructuring, the provision of credit facilities and taking of security in respect of assets that will be acquired by NAMA including but not limited to the following legal areas.

1. The requirements of and options under the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 for NAMA to best meet its statutory objectives;

2. Banking, Commercial and Tax Law; and

3. Insolvency Law

The fees paid in respect of the work carries out by each of the successful tenderers is contained in the following table:

NAMA Legal Enforcement fees & Refinancing Panel Fees

Project

Company

Fees

December

A & L Goodbody

48,793

December

A & L Goodbody

127,606

Austing

William Fry

114,317

Norway

A & L Goodbody

16,890

Kildare

Eversheds

8,304

Crystal

McCann Fitzgerald

52,249

Mango

A & L Goodbody

27,285

Penguin

A & L Goodbody

37,397

Globe

Arthur Cox

296,465

The National Development Finance Agency ran two competitive tenders for legal services over the period 2008 to 2010, as set out below. It did not engage any legal firm to furnish advice in respect of these tenders.

1. To advise the State in relation to the National Plan for Radiation Oncology (NPRO) project; and

2. To advise the State in relation to the Thornton Hall prison project.

NPRO

Thornton Hall

Procuring Authority

National Development Finance Agency

National Development Finance Agency

Sponsoring Department

Health Services Executive

Irish Prison Service (Department of Justice)

Tender Initiated

2008

2010

Nature of Work

Advice on tender procedure and documentation for the NPRO public private partnership

Advice on tender procedure and documentation for the Thornton Hall prison complex public private partnership

Winning Firm

A&L Goodbody

None — project abandoned

Fees Paid

Not disclosed (see below for explanation)

None incurred

Fee information is confidential under the terms of the contract. The NDFA sought the release of the information on fees paid but A&L Goodbody refused to permit disclosure on grounds of confidentiality.

Offices of the Ombudsman/Information Commissioner/Commissioner for Environmental Information

The organisation tendered for legal services for the above Offices in 2010. No legal firms furnished advice in the tender process. The contract was awarded to Mason Hayes and Curran. That firm also held the previous contract. The nature of the work for each Office is as follows:

Office of the Ombudsman:

To provide legal advice on the interpretation of the Ombudsman Act, other statutes, statutory instruments, regulations etc. as applying to bodies within remit or on other legal questions and to represent the Ombudsman in any legal proceedings in which the Office is involved.

Office of the Information Commissioner:

To act for the Commissioner in relation to appeals to the High Court of review decisions of the Commissioner, and in relation to any subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court, to advise generally on procedural matters arising under the FOI Acts, to provide legal advice on the interpretation of the FOI Acts or of other statutes, or on other legal questions, to assist, where appropriate, in the drafting of decisions by the Information Commissioner or her staff under the FOI Acts; and to advise, where appropriate, on referring questions of law to the High Court under subsection 42(5) of the FOI Acts.

Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information:

To act for the Commissioner in relation to appeals to the High Court, made under Article 13 of the Regulations and in relation to any subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court, to advise generally on matters arising from the Commissioner's role in the Regulation or the Directive, including matters of European law, to assist, where appropriate, in the drafting of decisions by the Commissioner or her staff; and to advise, where appropriate, on referring questions of law to the High Court under Article 11(9) of the Regulations.

The fees paid to Mason, Hayes and Curran for each of the three years in question are as follows:

2008

2009

2010

Offices of the Information Commissioner/Commissioner for Environmental Information

305,822.71

103,309.11

124,747.80

Office of the Ombudsman

18,633.35

32,514.03

28,655.68

Standards in Public Office Commission

The Standards in Public Office Commission last tendered for legal services in 2009. No legal firms furnished advice in the tender process. The contract was awarded to A&L Goodbody. That company also held the previous contract.

The legal services provided by A&L Goodbody relate to advice on matters arising relating to the functions of the Standards Commission under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001, the Electoral Act 1997, as amended, and the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2001, including procedural matters, interpretation of the legislation, specific requests for advice received under the legislation, investigations under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001, enquiries conducted under the Electoral Acts 1997, as amended, and the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2001.

The fees paid to A&L Goodbody for each of the three years in question are as follows:

2008

2009

2010

Standards in Public Office Commission

€30,118.94

€6,014.25

€75,638.60

Legal Proceedings

Alan Shatter

Question:

309 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance in respect of each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 if he will give details of the number of court cases initiated in each year in which he or his predecessor was named as a defendant; the number of such cases in each year initiated in the District Court, Circuit Court or High Court; the nature of the proceedings taken, for example, the number of cases in which damages were claimed; judicial review was sought of decisions made or were constitutional challenges and so on; whether in all such cases legal representation was provided by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and if not, by whom; if he will detail the legal costs incurred by his Department in each of the said years in respect of any such litigation and to provide a breakdown of same including details of fees paid to solicitors and barristers; to detail the number of cases in each of the aforesaid years that were lost and in respect of which he or the State was ordered to pay the plaintiff’s costs and the amount of costs so paid in each of the aforesaid years. [1637/11]

In the time available it has not been possible to collate all the data requested by the Deputy. As soon as this process has been completed the information will be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 310 answered with Question No. 308.

Departmental Expenditure

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

311 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the steps taken to ensure that budgetary projections by various Departments remain on target throughout each financial year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1665/11]

The savings of approximately €4 billion announced by the Government in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 are allocated across each Department and Office in the 2011 Budget, with details set out in the 2011 Budget Estimates. The €4 billion savings will accordingly be delivered in full by each Department and Office in 2011 as part of the normal process of expenditure management.

Economic Competitiveness

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

312 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the steps taken by him to combat any emerging trends that emerge from time to time which might have the effect of impeding the competitiveness of this economy with particular reference to ensure that this Country can compete with all others within the EU in the first instance and throughout the worldwide economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1666/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

315 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent he has compared the competitiveness of this economy with others within the eurozone; the issues that have arisen; the actions taken or likely to be taken arising therefrom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1669/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 312 and 315 together.

The standardised methodology for monitoring relative competitiveness across the euro area is the Harmonised Competitiveness Indicator (HCI). While it cannot be denied that Ireland had its competitive edge eroded relative to our European peers, as a country we are regaining this competitiveness. Since mid-2008, the Harmonised Competitiveness Indicator for Ireland, as measured by the Central Bank of Ireland, has been falling more or less constantly, indicating an improvement in our international competitiveness. This improvement comes despite the renewed appreciation of the euro against the dollar and sterling in the wake on quantitative easing measures in both the US and UK.

Ireland, as a member of a currency union, must focus on improving competitiveness at home. In this regard, we are seeing the benefits of our labour market flexibility: much available evidence points to recent downward pressure on wages in the economy, for example. average weekly earnings were down 1.4% in the year to Q3 2010. Furthermore, unit labour costs — wages adjusted for productivity — are forecast by the European Commission to fall in Ireland next year. In addition, Ireland has had the biggest decline in consumer prices of the euro area which has had a considerable positive impact on our competitiveness.

While the falls in domestic prices, easing wage pressures and improvements in productivity are helpful, we must not be complacent as further improvements in our competitiveness are essential to take advantage of the global recovery. To this end, the National Recovery Plan outlined a programme of structural reforms which will help to further restore competitiveness and support economic growth.

EU-IMF Fund

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

313 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which he and-or his Department is in regular contact with EU institutions and the International Monetary Fund to ensure the success of this country’s financial strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1667/11]

As is normal in these circumstances, officials of my Department are in ongoing contact with their counterparts in the EU Commission, the IMF and the ECB in relation to implementation of the joint programme of financial assistance which has been agreed for Ireland. I understand that frequent contact is also taking place between the staff of the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator's Office and the external funding agents. The policy conditionality associated with the EU-IMF Programme for Ireland is set out in the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies and in the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality. These documents together with the Technical Memorandum of Understanding which are collectively referred to as the MoU have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

As regards the fiscal consolidation aspects of the agreement, as the Deputy will be aware, the release of the first instalments of financial assistance is conditional on the successful adoption of Budget 2011. In this regard, the Social Welfare Act 2010 is in force and the Finance Bill 2011 is due to be introduced on 25th January 2011.

As part of the quantitative performance criteria of the Technical Memorandum of Understanding, a target for the end-2010 Exchequer primary balance — the Exchequer balance excluding debt interest payments — of -€15.3 billion was set. Excluding debt interest payments of just under €4.1 billion, the Exchequer primary balance in 2010 was -€14.65 billion, meaning the target was met. This data was relayed to the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank on Wednesday, 5th January. I can also confirm that the data provision obligations on my Department, the NTMA and the Central Bank are being pursued in line with Annex 1 of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Decentralisation Programme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

314 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the total number of buildings or sites currently idle, surplus to requirements or otherwise arising from the Government’s decentralisation strategy; the full extent of any commitment entered into that so far have been realised or otherwise; the cost arising from any such commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1668/11]

All buildings acquired by the Office of Public Works for the Government's decentralisation programme are utilised and are not surplus to requirements. The Office of Public Works secured sites, which have yet to be developed, in nine locations to provide accommodation for decentralising Departments/Offices. The development of these locations will be the subject of a Government review of the programme this year. A six acre site in Knock, Co. Mayo, was purchased in the sum of €390,000, and development at this location was negated by planning issues. The Government decided to decentralise personnel due to locate in Knock to Charlestown, Co. Mayo instead, subject to the review of the overall programme.

Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 312.

Banks Recapitalisation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

316 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the total financial commitment by him to date of the support to each of the financial institutions; the degree to which he has quantified ongoing support for the future; when he expects that each financial institution will be in a position to proceed without assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1670/11]

The following table sets out the amount of capital injected by the State into the Irish Banking System to date. The Central Bank has set out the further capital that will be required by AIB, BOI and EBS in order for them to meet a 12% core tier 1 ratio by the end of February 2011 as agreed in the Programme for Financial Support with the IMF, EU and the ECB.

Capitalisation of Credit Institutions

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Value of Promissory Notes Issued

Capital Provided to 31 December 2010

Additional CT1 required by Central Bank

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4.000

25.28

29.280

Allied Irish Banks

3.700

3.5

7.200

6.065

Bank of Ireland

1.700

1.8

3.500

2.199

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.100

5.30

5.400

EBS Building Society

0.625

0.25

0.875

0.438

Total

10.100

5.3

30.80

46.300

8.700

*Cash received on cancellation of Warrants.

These Central Bank estimates take account of all elements of the banks' loan books, including the mortgage loan books. It has taken a realistic view of the likely losses to mortgage lenders. Indeed, the loss rates that have been used in both the base and stress case scenarios are in excess of the latest official figures released by the Central Bank. Furthermore, the detailed review undertaken by the external authorities of the financial status of the Irish banks and, in particular, of the Central Bank's PCAR exercise was an important part of the technical discussions underpinning the negotiated package of assistance with the IMF and our European partners. The Governor of the Central Bank recently confirmed that the external experts had found no fault with the methodology used for the PCAR stress test earlier this year. As part of the agreement with the EC, IMF and EU the State has agreed to adopt deleveraging measures and to implement restructuring of the banking sector. To this end, a Prudential Liquidity Assessment Review or "PLAR" will establish target funding ratios for each of the banks, identify non core assets and set an adjustment path to these targets based on specified non public annual benchmarks.

As to further funding being required, the State in the case of AIB and EBS remains committed to meeting their remaining capital requirements to the extent that they cannot be met from other sources.

Bank of Ireland has raised some €700m of their capital requirement through an LME exercise in December and intends to seek to generate the remaining required capital through a combination of internal capital management initiatives, support from existing shareholders and other capital markets sources. On 10 January 2011 Bank of Ireland announced the completion of the sale of Bank of Ireland Asset Management to State Street Global Advisors.

A key objective of the Programme agreement is to ensure that the viable financial institutions are in a position to access the market for their funding and capital needs in due course.

Financial Services Regulation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

317 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the number and locations of banking or other financial institutions likely to be wound up arising from the financial difficulties to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1671/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which an evaluation has been carried out of banking structures within this economy with a view to a determination as to the optimum size and strength of such institutions in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1672/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

320 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects good banking, lending and borrowing policies to be restored in view of his commitment in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1674/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 317, 318 and 320 together.

The State's primary consideration in its involvement in the banking system is to protect, in the public interest, the financial and economic system of the State. Therefore, the Government's actions in the banking area are designed, while minimising the cost to the taxpayer, to support the development of a reformed and reinvigorated banking system that can serve our economy in a proper manner and, within which, there is scope for all viable credit institutions operating in the Irish market to play their full part.

The agreed joint EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support recognises and supports this overall objective, builds upon the banking measures taken to date and provides for further reform and reorganisation of the banking sector. The objective of the Programme, in so far as it relates to banking, is to fundamentally downsize and reorganise the sector so that it is proportionate to the size of the economy. In that regard it envisages that the banks that will continue to fully serve the needs of the economy will be capitalised to the highest international standards and that a specific plan for the resolution of Anglo Irish Bank and INBS will be finalised and submitted to the European Commission for approval by end January. This will move Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, Irish Life and Permanent and EBS towards holding higher levels of capital and should allow them maintain and secure more stable funding and thereby facilitate them to meet the credit needs of sustainable businesses and households.

Legislative Programme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

319 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he intends to provide by way of legislation the necessary impositions to ensure that traditional banking good practice is maintained in the future with particular reference to sound lending to borrowing, solvency and liquidity ratios; if arrangements have been entered into whereby this will apply in future after the current banking issues have been resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1673/11]

The Central Bank Reform Act 2010 established a single, integrated, Central Bank of Ireland ("the Bank") to replace the dual Central Bank and Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority structure. That Act was the first in a proposed three stage legislative programme. The day-to-day regulation of banks and other financial service providers is primarily a matter for the Bank and in June of 2010 the Bank published "Banking supervision: our new approach" which sets out its vision of a more intrusive financial regulatory regime. The Bank already has substantial powers of enforcement and extra resources in place to ensure that banks and other financial service providers conduct their business prudently and properly. Work is continuing to prepare heads of a second Bill which is intended to equip the Bank with additional powers and functions for the regulation of all financial service providers including the banking sector.

A third Bill to consolidate the Central Bank Acts will follow.

Questions No. 320 answered with Question No. 317.

National Debt

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

321 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the national debt arising from either the public or the private sector as at 31 December in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1675/11]

I would like to advise the Deputy that private sector debt is not counted as part of the National Debt. National Debt is the total outstanding amount of principal borrowed by Central Government and not repaid to date less liquid assets available for redemption of those liabilities at the same date. Figures for the National Debt over the past five years are detailed in the following table.

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

National Debt (€ billions)

93

75

50

38

36

Pension Provisions

Joe Behan

Question:

322 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a matter in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1785/11]

The individual case raised by the Deputy which refers to the reduction in pension is a matter for consideration by the Minister for Transport, as employer, in the first instance. The Government decided, in the context of the serious national budgetary position, that retired public service pensioners should make a contribution to the overall required fiscal adjustment. This decision was taken having regard to the gap between the burden being borne by those currently in public service employment (where the pension related deduction (PRD) and pay reduction have impacted) and their retired counterparts.

The measure concerned is legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010, which was signed into law by the President on 22 December 2010. Section 2 of that Act provides that the public service pension of a pensioner (as defined) will be reduced, subject to the first €12,000 of annual pension income being exempt. Section 2(2) specifically provides inter alia that the reduction has effect notwithstanding any provision by or under any circular or instrument or other document, or any written agreement or contractual arrangement.

Health Service Staff

Terence Flanagan

Question:

323 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a pension levy in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48145/10]

In relation to the pension related deduction, all employees, including full time and part time employees on the payroll of Section 38 agencies, who are, or are entitled to be, members of a public service occupational pension scheme or pension arrangement are subject to the deduction provided for under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act (No. 1) 2009.

Agencies funded by the HSE under Section 38 of the Health Act 2004 include the Central Remedial Clinic.

Flouridation Levels

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

324 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to carry out a nationwide study promised on the total fluoride intake of the Irish population that the new programme for Government contained a commitment to carry out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44407/10]

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to carry out a national study of total fluoride intake in the population. This will be achieved through a bio-monitoring programme, which will be carried out by the HSE. The HSE is in the process of establishing a high level Advisory Group which will have technical and academic oversight of the project, so as to ensure any pilot and full studies are robustly using appropriate materials and methods. A Steering Group will then oversee the implementation of the project.

Health Service Staff

James Reilly

Question:

325 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the employment status of the following categories of health professionals (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48098/10]

The Health Service Executive's staff census indicates that the numbers of certain grades employed, in the public health service, are as set out in the following table.

Numbers (WTE excld. career break) of certain grades employed in the public health service, as at November 10

Grade

Number

Chiropodists & Podiatrists

42.14

Consultant Dentistry

14.64

Dentists

360.14

Dieticians

405.07

Occupational Therapists

1,204.89

Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon/Ophthalmic Physician, Community

76.3

Pharmacists

433.83

Physiotherapists

1,537.51

Speech and Language Therapists

832.54

The Government has made clear that a critical part of its strategy to restore the public finances is to achieve sustainability in the cost of delivering public services relative to State revenues. To help achieve this goal, it will be necessary to restructure and reorganise the public service and to reduce public service numbers over the coming years. This requires that the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the health service will continue to apply until the numbers have fallen to the level set out in the Employment Control Framework 2011-2014 for the health sector. The Framework gives effect to the Government policy on employment in the public sector.

However, the Framework does allow for the filling of certain exempted grades including Medical Consultant, Speech & Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, Behavioural Therapist, Counsellor, and Social Worker. There are also grades/posts to which special provisions apply including Psychiatric Nurse and Advanced Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist.

In addition, the Health Service Executive can also make exceptions to the moratorium on recruitment under certain conditions.

Hospital Charges

James Reilly

Question:

326 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the rate of hospital charges — inpatient, outpatient and accident and emergency — in 2010; the categories of patient required to pay hospital charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48099/10]

The public hospital statutory in-patient charge is currently €75 per day up to a maximum of €750 in any twelve consecutive months during which an individual is maintained as an in-patient in a public hospital or is admitted as a day-case. This charge is subject to a number of exemptions, in particular, it does not apply to persons with full eligibility (medical cards). Charges for private/semi private accommodation in public hospitals, which came into effect from 1 January 2011, are set out as follows.

Hospital Category

Private Accomm.

Semi-Private Accomm.

Day-care

1

HSE Regional hospitals, Voluntary & Joint Board Teaching Hospitals

1,017

889

732

2

HSE County HospitalsVoluntary Non-Teaching Hospitals

789

693

564

3

HSE District Hospitals

260

222

193

These charges are in addition to a charge equivalent to the public hospital statutory in-patient charge as set out above. All private patients occupying designated private beds in the hospitals are subject to these charges.

The current charge for attendance at Emergency Departments (A&E) is €100 per visit subject to certain exemptions, in particular, persons with full eligibility (medical cards) and persons with a letter of referral from a registered medical practitioner.

No charges are applicable in relation to outpatient services, with the exception of a charge of €400 in respect of MRI services provided to private patients.

James Reilly

Question:

327 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the anticipated income from statutory inpatient, outpatient and accident and emergency charges in 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48100/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being compiled by the Health Service Executive in the context of the preparation of the Annual Financial Statements. I have therefore referred the matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Expenditure

Sean Sherlock

Question:

328 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money spent by the Health Service Executive on private security firms throughout the State for the year 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48133/10]

I have referred this matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Terence Flanagan

Question:

329 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding rent allowance (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48138/10]

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

Departmental Expenditure

Brian Hayes

Question:

330 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to her Department from 2007 in respect of providing all computer, hardware and software, in her private and constituency office in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48159/10]

The cost for ICT equipment for my private and constituency offices from 2007 onwards is set out in the following table. ICT equipment issued to staff in my offices are standard equipment taken from Department stock and are similar to that used throughout my Department.

Location

Cost since 2007

Private office

4,500

Constituency office

550

Health Service Properties

Seán Barrett

Question:

331 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children if negotiations are taking place with a developer for the sale of the lands and buildings at St. Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48165/10]

St Luke's Hospital Rathgar was subsumed into the Health Service Executive on 1 August 2010 under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2010 (No.18 of 2010). It is intended that the radiation oncology facilities will remain at the hospital until at least 2014.

Management of the health property portfolio is a service matter. Therefore your question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Departmental Expenditure

Joan Burton

Question:

332 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will set out any sum of money paid by her Department to a company (details supplied) in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48189/10]

Two payments totalling €78,999 were paid by my Department to the company in the past five years. Details of the payments made are set out below:

€50,866 paid in 2006 in respect of a Value for Money Study of Rehabilitative Training and Vocational Training Services for people with disabilities and

€28,133 paid in 2007 in respect of professional fees for the preparation of a report and an expert witness attendance fee in relation to a legal case relating to advance payments to pharmacists.

Departmental Websites

Liz McManus

Question:

333 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and cost of each website that falls under her remit; the number of unique visitors per month to each website; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48207/10]

Information in relation to my Department's websites is set out in the following table.

Website

Description

Avg Unique Monthly Visitors

Cost

DoH&C group sites:

www.dohc.ie

Department of Health & Children website

33,000

www.cpsqa.ie

Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance

*Unavailable

healthupdate.gov.ie

Dedicated website for the Press Office

1,800

patientsafetyfirst.gov.ie

Website of the Patient Safety Initiative

*

Total cost for DoH&C group websites 2010

These sites are managed as a single contract.

9,100

OMCYA Group Sites

www.omcya.ie

Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs website

10,200

www.comhairlenanog.ie

Provides information on the role and purpose of Comhairle na nÓg and links to all Comhairle na nÓg websites throughout the country

*

www.childrensdatabase.ie

Provides access to research and information on children for policy-makers, Government departments, academics, voluntary organisations and the general public

*

www.nprrc.ie

The National Play and Recreation Resource Centre provides information, support and advice on a range of issues affecting the development of children’s play in Ireland

*

www.ncac.ie

National Children’s Advisory Council website. The mission of the National Children’s Advisory Council is to make a difference to children and young people’s lives, by making childhood and youth a more positive and enjoyable experience for everyone

*

www.studentcouncil.ie

Student Council Second Level Support Service website, the aim of the service is to provide ongoing support for all student council liaison teachers. (now transferred to Dept. of Education and Science)

*

Cost for OMCYA group sites 2010

All the OMCYA websites, except www.teenspace.ie are managed as a single contact.

14,759

www.teenspace.ie

Teenspace provides information on events, activities and recreation services for young people from 10 to 18

**9,000

22,614

Total cost for all OMCYA sites

All the OMCYA websites including www.teenspace.ie

37,373

Total cost for all sites

46,473

**Estimated.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

334 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48218/10]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

335 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal against the decision to refuse a full medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [48219/10]

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

Hospital Services

Pat Breen

Question:

336 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children further to the Adjournment Debate response of the 14 December 2010, if inpatient cardiology services will continue to be provided at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Ennis; when the cat lab at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick will be operating on a 24 hour basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48226/10]

The HSE has made significant progress in re-organising acute hospital and related services in the mid-west region since April 2009. Ennis General Hospital, as part of the regional hospital network, now undertakes an expanded range of day case surgery and diagnostic work. The range of services provided in Ennis will continue to be expanded, so that people can have most of their health care needs met as close as possible to where they live.

In deciding on the best model for the provision of cardiology services in the region, the unanimous medical advice is to centralise acute cardiology to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick. This is in line with the model being developed in the region, whereby services are organised on an integrated regional basis, delivered in a range of locations and settings. To facilitate this, a fourth cardiologist is being appointed in 2011. This will facilitate a separate cardiology rota, giving patients access to a cardiologist and catheterisation services on a 24-hour basis for emergency cases in the region. All cardiology services currently available in Ennis General Hospital will continue to be provided and these services will be expanded further, with the addition of cardiac failure clinics and cardiac rehabilitation services for patients who have had the acute phase of their illness managed in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick.

Departmental Expenditure

Charles Flanagan

Question:

337 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the total budget for the Office of the Minister for Children and children and family services in the Health Service Executive in 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48228/10]

The Deputy might wish to note that the funding allocations for 2010 in respect of Vote 41 for the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs for the provision of certain services in respect of children and youth affairs, including miscellaneous grants and grants-in-aid, are set out in the following table. It will be noted that the overall estimate allocation amounts to €351 million which includes provision of €319 million across a number of Subheads for current expenditure and €32 million for capital expenditure. Details of the provisional expenditure outturn in 2010 under each of the Subheads of the Vote are also included in the table.

2010 Estimate Allocation €000

2010 Provisional Outturn €000

Subhead

Current

Capital

Total

Current

Capital

Total

A. Early Childcare Payment

4,500

4,500

10,950

10,950

B. National Childcare Investment Programme

75,078

30,000

105,078

72,378

25,000

97,378

C. Early Intervention Programme for Children

5,340

5,340

2,966

2,966

D. ECCE Pre-School Year Scheme

170,000

170,000

153,550

153,550

E. National Longitudinal Study and other Programmes

24,190

1,600

25,790

22,591

1,198

23,789

F. General expenses of youth organisations

8,000

8,000

8,000

8,000

G. General expenses of youth organisations (part funded by National Lottery)

38,600

38,600

38,600

38,600

H. Referendum on Children’s Rights

3,000

3,000

GROSS TOTAL

328,708

31,600

360,308

309,035

26,198

335,233

I. Less Appropriations -in-Aid

9,040

9,040

2,966

2,966

NET TOTAL

319,668

31,600

351,268

306,069

26,198

332,267

The Deputy is also seeking budget particulars for children and family services in the Health Service Executive in 2010. As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Charles Flanagan

Question:

338 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details on the differential response model of child protection which is currently being piloted; if she will provide details on this model of child protection; the location of the pilot areas; the date on which these pilots were initiated; if any analysis has been published on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48229/10]

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

Departmental Expenditure

Charles Flanagan

Question:

339 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details of all funding made available from her Department to voluntary and community organisations which work with vulnerable children and families in 2009 and 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the