As the Tánaiste is aware, yesterday the Government published the Mangan report on tax and social welfare, precisely 11 months after having received it. Commenting on this report, this morning's Irish Independent quoted a Government source as follows:
I don't think it's any coincidence this didn't see the light of day for 11 months. By the time of the next Budget, it will be well buried. After last year, she [the Minister for Social Protection] has no intention of revisiting child benefit any time soon.
I accept that the changes proposed are so radical that they could not be done in one budget. It would take at least two and perhaps three. If the Government is to make changes, the logical place to start would be in the next budget. On behalf of approximately one million people who have more than a passing interest in this matter, I ask the Tánaiste this question. Does the Government favour the recommendation of the majority of the advisory group chaired by Ms Ita Mangan that a two-tier child benefit system be introduced? Does the Government intend to start implementing the recommendations of the Mangan report and when does it intend to start doing so? Will the Government start implementing the report in the next budget or has it decided to long-finger the matter, as is suggested in various media outlets this morning?