Estimates for Public Services 2015

I move the following Revised Estimates:

Vote 1 — President’s Establishment (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €3,444,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Secretary General to the President, for certain other expenses of the President’s Establishment and for certain grants.

Vote 2 — Department of the Taoiseach (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €27,022,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain services administered by the Department and for payment of grants.

Vote 3 — Office of the Attorney General (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €15,030,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Attorney General, including a grant.

Vote 4 — Central Statistics Office (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €52,836,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Central Statistics Office.

Vote 5 — Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €37,834,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Vote 6 — Office of the Chief State Solicitor (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €26,966,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Chief State Solicitor.

Vote 7 — Office of the Minister for Finance (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €30,617,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Finance, including the Paymaster-General’s Office, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 8 — Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €6,682,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Vote 9 — Office of the Revenue Commissioners (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €329,481,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, including certain other services administered by that Office.

Vote 10 — Office of the Appeal Commissioners (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €775,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Appeal Commissioners.

Vote 11 — Public Expenditure and Reform (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €40,610,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 12 — Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €370,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for pensions, superannuation, occupational injuries, and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts 1834 to 2004 and sundry other statutes; extra-statutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, fees to medical referees and occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; fees to Pensions Board; miscellaneous payments, etc.

Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €369,848,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for services administered by that Office including the National Procurement Service, for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure.

Vote 14 — State Laboratory (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €8,049,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory.

Vote 15 — Secret Service (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for Secret Service.

Vote 16 — Valuation Office (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €9,145,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Valuation Office and certain minor services.

Vote 17 — Public Appointments Service (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €8,204,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service.

Vote 18 — Shared Services (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €39,033,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of Shared Services and that a sum not exceeding €998,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 19 — Office of the Ombudsman (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €8,738,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.

Vote 20 — Garda Síochána (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,348,273,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Garda Síochána, including pensions, etc.; for the payment of certain witnesses’ expenses, and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 21 — Prisons (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €310,243,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Prison Service, and other expenses in connection with prisons, including places of detention; for probation services; and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 22 — Courts Service (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €60,150,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for such of the salaries and expenses of the Courts Service and of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Special Criminal Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court and of certain other minor services as are not charged to the Central Fund.

Vote 23 — Property Registration Authority (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €30,311,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Property Registration Authority.

Vote 24 — Justice and Equality (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €311,126,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Probation Service staff and of certain other services including payments under cash limited schemes administered by that Office, and payment of certain grants.

Vote 25 — Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €6,190,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 26 — Education and Skills (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €8,012,125,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education and Skills, for certain services administered by that Office, and for the payments of certain grants.

Vote 27 — International Co-operation (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €475,473,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for certain Official Development Assistance, including certain grants and for contributions to certain International Organisations involved in Development Assistance and for salaries and expenses in connection therewith.

Vote 28 — Foreign Affairs and Trade (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €164,958,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and for certain services administered by that Office, including grants and contributions to International Organisations.

Vote 29 — Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €173,133,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants, and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €4,600,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 30 — Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €772,579,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, including certain services administered by that Office, and of the Irish Land Commission and for payment of certain grants, subsidies and sundry grants and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes and the remediation of Haulbowline Island, and that a sum not exceeding €18,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 31 — Transport, Tourism and Sport (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,215,932,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, including certain services administered by that Office, for payment of certain grants and certain other services, and that a sum not exceeding €29,105,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 32 — Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €740,412,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, including certain services administered by that Office, for the payment of certain subsidies and grants and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €20,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 33 — Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €272,829,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain subsidies and grants, and that a sum not exceeding €6,216,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 34 — Environment, Community and Local Government (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,281,399,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, including grants to Local Authorities, grants and other expenses in connection with housing, water services, miscellaneous schemes, subsidies and grants.

Vote 35 — Army Pensions (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €215,590,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for retired pay, pensions, compensation, allowances and gratuities payable under sundry statutes to or in respect of members of the Defence Forces and certain other Military Organisations, etc., and for sundry contributions and expenses in connection therewith; for certain extra-statutory children’s allowances and other payments and for sundry grants.

Vote 36 — Defence (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €639,404,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Defence, including certain services administered by that Office; for the pay and expenses of the Defence Forces; and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 37 — Social Protection (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €11,068,263,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Social Protection, for certain services administered by that Office, for payments to the Social Insurance Fund and for certain grants.

Vote 38 — Health (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €12,221,200,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Health and certain other services administered by that Office, including grants to the Health Service Executive and miscellaneous grants.

Vote 39 — Office of Government Procurement (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €18,974,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Government Procurement, and that a sum not exceeding €125,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 40 — Children and Youth Affairs (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,000,011,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, for certain services administered by that Office and for the payment of grants including certain grants under cash-limited schemes.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to present the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2015, which have been considered in great deal by the relevant select committee over the past number of weeks. In line with the revised budgetary timetable introduced as part of the two pack, the Revised Estimates were published on 18 December 2014 and this has allowed for much earlier consideration of them by Members than has been the practice during my time in the House. The revised Book of Estimates for 2015 sets out gross voted expenditure amounting to €53.2 billion. In addition, the book sets out the performance targets and outputs for all Departments for the coming year which will allow for greater oversight and accountability to ensure public resources are having the desired impact. This is an innovation to ensure we are not simply considering the money allocated but also what we expect the outcome of those allocations to be.

I will outline the economic and fiscal background against which the Revised Estimates were drafted. The recovery in the economy has firmly taken hold and we expect that the momentum generated last year will continue this year. While the Central Statistics Office will publish the quarterly national accounts for the fourth quarter of 2014 over the coming weeks, in the period to the end of September 2014 our economy grew by 5% in real terms compared to the same period in 2013. This means that Ireland became Europe's fastest growing economy last year and our latest economic forecasts suggest that we will continue to grow strongly in 2015.

As economic recovery continues to broaden, the labour market has made substantial progress in regaining the devastating employment losses following the economy's collapse in 2008. Unemployment, having peaked at more than 15% in 2012, has been reduced to just over 10% as of February 2015. There is every expectation that if it has not reached single digits already, it will do so early this year. The number of people signing on the live register, having peaking at more than 470,000 in 2011, fell by a further 40,000 last year to stand at 360,000. As a clear sign that the Government's prioritisation of job creation is paying dividends, an additional 30,000 jobs were created in 2014, an increase of 1.5% over the previous year. Overall, employment has increased every year since 2012 with the result that almost 115,000 new jobs have been created in the economy since then. However, while we recognise that the Government has made significant progress in returning the unemployed to work, joblessness in Ireland remains too high and our efforts will focus on lowering it further over the short and medium term.

The improved economic outlook has had a favourable impact on the Government's fiscal position. Tax revenues increased by €3.5 billion in year-on-year terms and came in €1.2 billion above the target set for last year. The increases seen in income tax, which increased by €1.4 billion from 2013 levels, and VAT, which increased by over €800 million, were particularly encouraging. This afforded the Government a degree of fiscal space to accommodate increased demand and bring forward a number of vital infrastructure and capital investment projects, while meeting the demanding fiscal targets it had set in budget 2014.

After successive years of expenditure reductions and tax increases, budget 2015 represents the first time that the Government has been able to ease the burden of fiscal adjustment since the crisis began. The Government has approved modest increases in aggregate expenditure and reduced taxes for the first time in seven years. The fiscal target we have set for this year is a general Government deficit of 2.7% which, when achieved, will ensure Ireland's exit from the excessive deficit procedure. Fiscal policy from 2016 onwards will operate within the strictures set out under the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact.

I can confirm that the expenditure allocations set out for 2015 represent a significant milestone for fiscal policy in Ireland, as we have moved away from a period of successive annual expenditure reductions. Our broader economic policies are clearly working as the labour market continues its recovery and more and more people are finding work. We will redouble our efforts in this area to ensure the objective of providing jobs for all our citizens is achieved. While we can be satisfied that progress has been made, real challenges remain. I refer not least to Ireland's continued need to reduce the deficit and the public sector debt. This means we cannot lose our focus on the need to continue to develop and implement sustainable and well-formulated fiscal policies over the coming years.

I am pleased to have a brief opportunity to speak on the 2015 public service Estimates, which the Minister published a few days before Christmas. This is the first debate in the Dáil on this Book of Estimates. No proper debate on these issues has taken place anywhere. I object to the contemptuous manner in which the Government reacted to the request for a full three-hour debate on the Government's Book of Estimates for this year. We spent hours discussing the Finance Bill in this Chamber on Second, Report and Final Stages. For some reason, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform did not want a debate on his half of last October's budget day announcement. There were very detailed discussions at many of the individual committees about matters relating to their respective line Departments. These were debates in silos. There was no overall discussion on the shape of the Estimates. That has not happened. The Minister might not like to have a debate on the overall shape of the Estimates, which reflect the choices made by the Government as one half of what was announced on budget day last October.

The Minister, Deputy Howlin, is right when he says that there were debates. The Tánaiste indicated this as well. I remind them that no Dáil committee approved the Estimates for any of the line Departments. The Standing Orders of the House do not allow a Dáil committee to vote on the Estimates. Such a committee can say it has considered the Estimates, but it cannot pass a view on whether it agrees or disagrees with them. People outside this House might have the impression that there was a detailed discussion. As a result of a Government diktat, Standing Orders prevent every committee from voting on the Estimates. No vote has taken place on this Book of Estimates, which relates to expenditure of €53 billion, anywhere in the Oireachtas. I accept that we will have a vote today. If people are happy with the choices the Government is making in running the country, if they are happy that vulnerable people are having to suffer more than necessary, they should support these Estimates. I know Fine Gael will do it happily. The Labour Party will probably be equally happy to do it. I put it to other Opposition Deputies that if they do not oppose these Estimates, they are saying they acquiesce to every cut this Government is making this year. I ask them to stand up.

The Government announced an adjustment of €1 billion on budget day. Some €600 million of that was accounted for by tax cuts that will basically benefit people on the top tax rate. The other €400 million is accounted for by expenditure adjustments. This is the fourth time the Government has introduced a regressive budget to hit people at the lowest end of the income spectrum, who rely on public services more than people at the top end. All four budgets have been characterised by decisions to look after people on higher incomes, with the most severe cuts affecting people who require services from the State. The Government's actions in taking this approach, which involve the use of limited and scarce resources to introduce tax cuts rather than to improve services, are creating a divided society.

We believe the Government, in the first instance, should have used the €1 billion that was available for 2015 to improve the services provided to and the quality of life enjoyed by citizens. The tax cuts could have waited until next year and the following year. They should not have been introduced in the first instance at the expense of people on hospital trolleys. Many people are waiting for unacceptable periods. They cannot get hospital appointments. They cannot get off hospital trolleys. This Government decided it was far better to give high earners a tax cut than to deal with the accident and emergency crisis in hospitals. The Government decided to prioritise giving money to people on the top tax rate, rather than assisting children in crowded classrooms, people waiting for medical cards and people who really need the support of suicide agencies. The Government's approach is to hope the trickle-down economic benefit of its tax break will lead to the people I have mentioned getting a few crumbs off the table in a few years' time if they are still alive and around.

Many press announcements have been made about the homeless situation. There are plans to build houses for 2020. Everything these days is a plan for five years' time, but nothing serious is happening in the short term. Essentially, I am opposed to the choices this Government has made. It should have allocated more money to increased expenditure and less money to tax cuts in the recent budget. The Government's priorities and choices are unfair on those who most rely on services. The Labour Party has fallen into the Fine Gael trap of looking after the people on the top tax rate the most. I will conclude by referring to the three-year health expenditure ceiling that has been announced. It is an indictment of the Government that it is providing for an increase of just 0.5% in health expenditure over the next three years. I reject the philosophy behind this Book of Estimates.

In a similar vein, I wish to oppose these Estimates and the overall philosophy that lies behind them. I agree with Fianna Fáil that it is suspicious and problematic that we are not having a proper discussion on these Estimates, which are being rushed through in a very short amount of time. We spent a great deal of time talking about tax changes when we debated the budget, but it seems that the Government does not want to discuss spending. This is pretty symptomatic of the Government's neoliberal approach, which might be expected of Fine Gael but is extraordinarily disappointing from the Labour Party. I remind the House that the neoliberal philosophy, having led us to a disastrous pass by generating an unprecedented economic crisis, was singularly unable to steer Europe out of that crisis by moving away from the neoliberal model of low taxes and privatisation towards a model that recognises the need to invest and spend in order to generate the sustainable employment, public services and infrastructure that can form the basis of a decent, civilised and fair society.

I could use the short amount of time available to me to talk about many specific aspects of these Estimates, such as the need to increase health spending radically way beyond the marginal bare increase that has been much trumpeted but is hardly significant at a time when the health service is crumbling. Rather than going into that, I will focus on the extraordinary trumpeting by the Government of what is supposed to be the biggest ever package for social housing. Some of us have been trying to drill beneath the fanfare and the announcements in order to debate the substance of this issue. I found something in the Estimates that completely belies the Government's claim that it has embarked on a major new social housing programme.

I refer to Table 7, which shows that the proportion of GNP to be spent on housing is the same this year as last year and the three years before that, 0.2%. There is no change. The macro economic figure is borne out at local level when someone goes to the local authority, in my case Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, and tries to find out how many council houses will be built this year in the aftermath of the much trumpeted announcement. The council does not have a clue. The number at the moment is 19, which is replicated across the country. Some 19 extra council houses will be built when 1,200 people have joined the list in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown in the past year and we are now at 5,200 people on the list. People are waiting for 15 years and the much trumpeted new housing strategy involves 19 houses. It is a joke. Where is the money? Where is the much trumpeted housing programme? It is a fantasy. The fact that it is fantasy is reflected in the figures because there is no increase in the proportion of public spending on housing.

I have not got my head around the full extent of the jiggery-pokery of replacing central funding for the local government fund with the local property tax, which will be used to fund the housing programme. In fact, there is no extra money going in as a result of the local property tax. Money that used to come from central taxation is being replaced with the local property tax but the overall amount available to build social housing is pretty much the same as it was last year, and the two years before that. This translates into virtually no actual council housing, just a lot of nonsense.

A large proportion of the money is still earmarked to go into the pockets of private landlords in the hugely wasteful leasing arrangements, rental allowance arrangements and the new housing assistance programme, HAP. I will oppose this because it is part of a failed philosophy and an attempt to hoodwink people about what the Government is doing.

I thank the two Deputies who contributed to the debate and I will try to deal with the issues raised. Having raised the issue with the Tánaiste earlier, Deputy Sean Fleming makes much of this being the first debate on the Estimates. However, on the day of the budget, 14 October 2014, we published the comprehensive expenditure report, which laid out the expenditure allocation to every Department. We had an extensive debate on it with anyone who wished to contribute to the budget debate and many did so. The Revised Estimates were published subsequently and involve technical adjustments to it. Allocation choices were, by and large, determined and announced by me on budget day and debated extensively in the days following the announcement of the budget.

Subsequent to that, detailed Estimates were discussed line by line in committees. I agree strongly with the Tánaiste that it is a much better way of doing it. Having a general debate, with every Member talking about different things and the Minister trying to respond to 1,000 issues in a debate in the full Chamber, is not an effective way of doing the business. We changed the whole budgetary situation. We do it earlier than the time when Estimates were discussed well into the year, with most of the money spent. This was certainly true throughout the reign of Fianna Fáil. Most of the money was spent before people got around to voting on it and that is why we fundamentally changed the way we do budgeting. We do it earlier, according to the new European semester, and we do the Estimates earlier. The Estimates are sent to the committee and we have outcomes as part of the budgetary process so that Members can look into what they are getting for their money rather than simply seeing whether the money is spent.

Two points were made by Deputies Sean Fleming and Richard Boyd Barrett. With regard to health, we were able to provide additionality to health for the first time this year in the base Estimate because we had a growing economy with greater income for the State. When I introduced a large Supplementary Estimate, which caused Deputy Sean Fleming some agitation last year, I explained that we had the capacity to meet real demand. We did not have that capacity when we went into government because of the catastrophic state of the finances that the Government inherited from Deputy Sean Fleming's party. When we had the capacity last year, we reallocated money to those core issues. It is instructive how we spend the money on health services. Since 2011, administrative staff have fallen by 2%, core staff, like consultants, have increased by 7% and non-consultant hospital doctors have increased by 4%. We have tried our best to reprioritise, even where resources are constrained.

With regard to homelessness and housing, we regard social housing as a critical issue, which is why it was the most important focus of my budget speech in October. We allocated €2.2 billion into the housing area and we can go through it in some detail. I am sure the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government would be happy to do so.

We would love to do so but we never get the chance.

I do not know whether Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett attended the meeting of the Select Sub-Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government where members forensically examined the intentions of the Minister. We have allocated €1.3 billion in Exchequer funding over the coming three years. In addition, private financing will be sourced for a PPP package of €300 million and a further €400 million from the resources of the sale of State assets. We specifically created a new general purpose vehicle to provide housing. Local authorities, including the one in the constituency of Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett, are involved in discussions about how it should be rolled out.

I strongly refute the notion that we have not made the right choices. We have addressed social need as we saw it and protected social welfare as best we could, during a catastrophic time for our finances. It is difficult to take lessons about expenditure reductions from the party opposite, which caused the crisis that ruined our country. Thankfully, we have put things back together again.

Votes put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 40.

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe Carey and John Lyons; Níl, Deputies Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Sean Fleming.
Votes declared carried.