Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, after line 30, to insert the following:

“(a) property which has experienced a change in circumstances which has significantly affected its net value,”.

I welcome the opportunity to move this amendment. It is a small amendment. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle indicated that all amendments being discussed today were discussed on Committee Stage, so we do not need to have as detailed a discussion on the amendments, except perhaps for one or two of them. This amendment was discussed at length on Committee Stage.

The essence of the point I am making is that in the case of a change in circumstances which significantly affects the annual value, this should be taken into account rather than just physical alterations to buildings. We are all familiar with areas which have declined in terms of trade because a new shopping centre has opened nearby. The level of business in a location may have diminished. We all know of examples where a village or filling station has been bypassed by a motorway and the level of business has reduced accordingly. Notwithstanding the fact there is no change to the physical building, there can be a real change to the net annual value which should be taken into account by the Valuation Office.

I thank Deputy Fleming. We had extensive engagement on many of these issues on Committee Stage and I look forward to further discussion now. I am afraid I am not in a position to accept this amendment. The material change of circumstance provisions have been criticised as being too restrictive and I agree with Deputy Fleming that there are limited circumstances where a material change of circumstances has not occurred, yet a ratepayer is suffering a significant inequity.

A classic case quoted by the Deputy and one I have quoted is the bypassed service station. In response, a new discretion is included in the Bill to deal with cases of exceptional inequity which need to be addressed even when there is no material change of circumstances. This new discretion, together with a rolling revaluation, is the answer. Many of the difficulties that have been experienced by businesses have been the result of a lack of regular revaluation. Moving to a regular rolling revaluation is the answer. This is where we are heading. We are making progress and this Bill will help to add to that.

As is the case for every other Member of the House, I would prefer to get there quicker, but I do not favour the alternative which is a break with the model which means we will never achieve rolling revaluation and could potentially have chaos instead.

As the Deputy indicated, the amendment was discussed on Committee Stage. I know the Deputy is aware that changes to the physical circumstances of the properties are taken into account when deciding if a material change of circumstances has occurred. The Bill as passed by the Seanad includes an additional circumstance where a property either becomes licensed or ceases to be licensed under the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011.

I understand the Deputy's intention is to widen the material change of circumstances in order that the valuation of a property can be altered between revaluations to take account of economic factors. This would undermine a fundamental tenet of the rating system as it currently applies to both the revaluation of entire local authorities and the revision of valuation of individual properties. It could mean, for example, that properties in Dublin city which were recently revalued by reference to the difficult market conditions and rental levels prevailing on 7 April 2011 would now have their valuations revised and perhaps increased because of general improvements in Dublin's rental levels that have taken place in the meantime. I understand what the Deputy is trying to do but for the reasons I have outlined, I am not in a position to accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive, are related and amendment No. 11 is consequential on amendment No. 4. Amendments Nos. 2 to 4, inclusive and No. 11 may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 14, line 31, after "shall" to insert ", within 2 months,".

We discussed an amendment of similar wording on Committee Stage. The purpose of the amendment is that the commissioner shall within two months of making the application referred to in section 27 "appoint an officer of the Commissioner to exercise, in relation to the property or properties to which the application relates, the powers expressed by this section to be exercisable by a revision manager, and such manager who is so appointed is also referred to in this Act as a 'revision manager'."

Amendment No. 3 would substitute "within 6 months" with "within 4 months". This means the subsection would begin, "A revision manager shall, if the property concerned is property that has been the subject of an application under section 27, within 4 months from the date of his or her appointment under subsection (3) in respect of that application". Essentially, in both cases, I am trying shorten the timeline involved. In the first case it is to two months and in the second case, the six-month period would be shortened to four months.

I indicated on Committee Stage of this legislation that I was favourably disposed to what Deputy Fleming is trying to achieve with these amendments, which is to have revision cases concluded within six months of receipt. I undertook on Committee Stage to propose an amendment on Report Stage that will achieve what the Deputy intends. As the Deputy pointed out, there is a weakness in the current legislation and in what is proposed in the Bill as it stands. A revision case must be concluded within six months of its assignment to a revision manager but there is no limit on the period within which a revision case is to be assigned to that manager.

In the amendments I propose, I take some practical considerations into account. I am not breaking the six-month period into two months and four months, as a period of 40 days must be allowed for representations. If the representation period had to be taken from the four-month period, the Deputy would appreciate that it would leave very little time for the work of the valuer on the revision case. I am also stipulating that the six-month period starts from the receipt of a valid application, accompanied by the prescribed fee, etc. The clock should not run if the application is flawed in some way.

Additionally, I am providing that this new six-month deadline can be commenced separately from the rest of the Bill. This is just a practical measure to allow the Valuation Office to bring all current revision cases up to date in the interim and make the necessary operational changes to be in a position to implement this provision on an ongoing basis. The Deputy will accept there will be a number of changes that the Valuation Office will have to put in place as a result of the passage of this legislation. Deputy Fleming's proposals are sensible and we should take the spirit of them through amendments Nos. 4 and 11.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

4. In page 16, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:

“Supplemental provision in relation to section 13 – time within which decision on revision must be made

14. On and from such day as the Minister appoints by order under this section, the following amendment shall have effect in relation to the section inserted in the Principal Act by section 13, namely, the following subsection shall be substituted for subsection (5) of section 28 inserted in the Principal Act by that section:

“(5) (a) A revision manager shall, if the property concerned is property that has been the subject of an application under section 27, before the expiry of the relevant period—

(i) make a decision as to whether the circumstances referred to in subsection (4) exist for the exercise by him or her of the powers under that subsection in relation to that property,

(ii) if he or she decides that those circumstances do exist, exercise those powers in relation to that property accordingly.

(b) In this subsection ‘relevant period’ means the period of 6 months from the date the Commissioner determined that the relevant application made to the Commissioner under section 27 (that is to say, the application, under that section, on foot of which the appointment of the revision manager referred to in paragraph (a) was made) was valid and that the fee prescribed in respect of that application has been paid.”.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 17, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

"(3) The Commissioner shall exercise the function provided for at subsection (1) within 2 months of the making by the revision manager of the decision referred to at subsections (1)(a) or (1)(b).

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2) the revision manager shall comply with the Commissioner’s direction referred to at subsection (1) within 2 months of the making of the direction by the Commissioner.".".

We are travelling through similar ground that we travelled on Committee Stage and we are moving a little faster on this occasion, as we had extensive discussion on these issues in committee. Currently, there is no provision in the Bill to provide for time limits within which the commissioner must exercise powers under section 29A. To ensure the proper functioning of this section, I have proposed a time limit. With regard to the second half of the amendment, there is again no provision for a time limit within which the revision manager must comply with the commissioner's directive made under section 29A. To ensure the proper functioning of the legislation, we should have a second time limit included in the legislation.

This amendment is at odds with the intention of section 15 which provides discretionary powers to the commissioner in exceptional circumstances in the interests of fair, equitable and uniform valuation lists. The first proposed amendment would result in limiting the discretion by limiting the period within which the function could be exercised. This could inadvertently be very unfavourable to ratepayers. If there is a concern that the new discretion will not be used, I recall stating in my closing comments on Second Stage in the House that the commissioner very much welcomed the new discretion. As the holder of that office, he has an overriding concern in ensuring the valuation list is equitable and uniform, and this new discretion will not be low on his list of priorities. It would be very much regretted by a ratepayer if an anomaly that could be corrected but was not acted upon in the two-month period envisaged by this amendment found himself or herself back in a previous position. I know that is not Deputy Fleming's intention but it could be an inadvertent outcome of the acceptance of this amendment.

The second part of the amendment is also problematic. Where the commissioner exercises the discretionary power, it is essential that it is exercised according to the timelines and other existing provisions in section 28 of the 2001 Act, as amended, including 40 days to make representations to the revision manager. Ample time must be provided to research the case details and the applicable grounds, which may include a physical inspection of the property. An adequate period in which to consider representations made must also be allowed. Taking more than 40 days from a two-month period leaves no time for the work of the valuer, which again would cause difficulties. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 21, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 49 of the Principal Act

27. Section 49 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting for subsection (1) the following:

“(1) If the value of a relevant property (in subsection (2) referred to as the ‘first-mentioned property’) falls to be determined for the purpose of section 28(4), (or of an appeal from a decision under that section) that determination shall be made by reference to the values, as appearing on the valuation list relating to the same rating authority area as that property is situate in, of other properties comparable to that property and any other relevant evidence concerning the net annual value of the property at the date of application.”.”.

This is a longer textual amendment that would amend section 49 of the principal Act. This deals with what is commonly known in the business as the "tone" of the list. It broadens the issue with respect to the annual value of property and it deals with other properties in the same rating authority. Under this, I will refer to the point we also raised on Committee Stage with regard to the Irish Wind Energy Association. Since Committee Stage I am sure its representatives have contacted the Minister of State's office, the Valuation Office and others. They gave me a presentation earlier today, because time has been very tight, and informed me that wind energy contributes €1.9 million in rates in County Donegal, which is approximately one third of Donegal's rates take. This seems extraordinary, and I would like to know how it gels with the tone of the list relative to other businesses. I am told that wind energy contributes up to €3 million in rates in County Cork. On Committee Stage, we quoted the exact examples of cases in County Limerick in which people's revaluations have resulted in a 280% increase in their rates bills.

I have told the Irish Wind Energy Association that I will ask the Minister to consider delaying the finalisation of the legislation to allow time for these and other relevant matters. The legislation was published in 2012 and there have been delays along the way to allow submissions to be considered. Given that the new valuations and rates bills arrived in Limerick only last year, long after the Bill commenced its passage through the House, people were unaware of the industry and the issue has come up late in the day. I am upfront and have told IWEA that I am not a fan of some of its members and what they have tried to do in the midlands in particular. That said, its point that this is undermining the financial model of the industry is valid. Some of the companies are in receipt of a public service obligation levy which is meant to be a contribution to the industry. However, if the rates increase at the rate they have done in Limerick, the value of the PSO levy will be negated. It makes no sense for the State to give a levy to an industry on the one hand and to take it back through rates. When we discuss a rateable area in a local authority, this is a valid area to raise.

We have discussed at length the issues to which the amendment refers. Given that the overriding principle of rates is the occupation of the physical structure being valued, not the economic buoyancy or otherwise of the business carried out in it, I cannot accept the Deputy's amendment. However, I am pleased he has raised the issue of wind energy, given that on Committee Stage I made a commitment to revert to it on Report Stage, and I welcome the opportunity to do so.

The large increase in rates for wind farms, arising from the revaluation of all commercial property in Limerick, and the implications of this level of increase for the wind energy sector, were discussed on Committee Stage. While I accept the wind energy sector is not seeking a complete exemption from rates, it was hoping to propose amendments to the Bill. There were no related amendments on Committee Stage and there are none on Report Stage. However, I undertook to consider this and my officials have engaged with interested stakeholders on the issue. The points I made during the debate on Committee Stage still hold true and, for the benefit of the House, I will summarise what I said.

Like all revaluations, the Limerick revaluation redistributed the rates burden based on contemporary property values. A revaluation can cause significant shifts in rates liabilities between different sectors, particularly where a considerable period has elapsed since the last exercise. We want this process to ensure more regular revaluations. From experience of revaluations to date, up to 65% of ratepayers can experience a reduction in their rates. Given that the total revenue from rates is capped after a revaluation, the reductions enjoyed by the 65% will result in increases for the other 35%. The Limerick revaluation has led to large increases in the valuations of wind farms which will, subject to appeal, see their rates rise in some cases by 200%.

The increases experienced by wind farms as a category of rateable property are on the higher end of the scale across the board. In recent revaluations, some individual properties in certain categories have also experienced very significant rate increases. Limerick is the first revalued rating authority with a significant number of wind farms. The ten Limerick wind farms which have recently been revalued are modern, have large generating capacities and date from approximately 2008 onwards. They comprise some of the latest technology in a rapidly developing area. This contrasts with the position heretofore. The first wind farm valued by the Valuation Office for the purposes of rating was developed in the early 1990s in County Mayo. The valuation assessed on this first wind farm set the basis for valuing all other wind farms that subsequently came on stream, including the Limerick wind farms before they were revalued.

All the wind farms were valued under the revision provisions of the current legislation. This reflected the state of wind energy technology in the early 1990s and the financial and economic conditions that prevailed in Ireland in the late 1980s. The valuations now assessed on the wind farms in Limerick, like all other rateable properties in Limerick, reflect the economic conditions which prevailed in late 2012.

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his function and the Valuation Act does not accord the Minister any function in the valuation of a property or an appeal. However, the legislation provides for a number of avenues of appeal. There is an appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation, a subsequent appeal to the Valuation Tribunal and an appeal to the High Court on a point of law. It is important to allow for the independent process of valuation and appeal to take its course without knee-jerk policy reactions before it concludes.

Although I hear the Deputy's point on the potential delaying of the Bill, I do not accept it. I am not saying the sector does not have an issue, and I acknowledge its willingness to pay rates, even increased rates. However, the situation and the impact on the sector cannot be fully analysed until the results of the appeals process have been concluded. Delaying the Bill to allow a full analysis of the impact of current legislation, not the impact of the Bill, on one sector is not an option. The main purpose of the Bill is to introduce measures to accelerate the revaluation programme throughout the country. It would not be fair to ask ratepayers in counties that have yet to be revalued to delay the introduction of measures to accelerate the revaluation process while we consider at length the implications of the current legislation on one sector. However, a decision not to delay the Bill does not mean, nor should it be interpreted as, closing the door on a partial exemption. If, after full consideration of the facts, we decide that this is the best route to take, another legislative vehicle can be found to introduce a change to the Valuation Act 2001, if this is what is most appropriate.

We should allow the appeals process to take its course. A number of appeals are under active consideration. Let us see what arises from them and fully assess the impact. If there is a need for a policy change, let us consider it. As Minister with responsibility for the legislation, I need the revaluation process to get under way. The Deputy has rightly made the point that it is going too slowly. Ratepayers have a right to have appropriate valuations attached to their properties that reflect modern reality. A number of people would benefit from the Bill, including local sports clubs and elements of the child care sector. I want to push on with the Bill. I am not closing the door to a partial exemption and we will allow the appeals process to run its course and see where we stand from a policy point of view.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move Amendment No. 7:

In page 28, line 32, to delete “subparagraph (b)” and substitute “clause (b) of subparagraph (2)”.

This is a technical amendment. Section 37 of the Bill amends Schedule 2. The wording in the Bill to be changed by the amendment was referring to subparagraph (b). There is more than one subparagraph (b) in paragraph 13 and the amendment makes absolutely clear where the new clause (c) is to be inserted in paragraph 13(2)(b).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 28, between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following:

Amendment of Schedule 3 to the Principal Act

38. Schedule 3 to the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following before paragraph 1:

“A1. All buildings and facilities used in connection with water and wastewater owned by Irish Water.”.”.

This amendment would require all buildings and facilities using connections with water and wastewater services owned by Irish Water to be included in the Act in order that Irish Water would pay commercial rates and be subject to valuation, like any other semi-State body. I proposed a similar amendment on Committee Stage and I spoke about public versus private ownership, group schemes and impacts.

In this amendment, I have been more specific and have homed in on Irish Water. The Water Services Act 2014 amended the Valuation Act 2001 to allow approximately €59 million to be paid in lieu of commercial rates by the Department. This is State aid by the taxpayer through the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. If Irish Water is a legitimate, stand-alone, commercial semi-State body, like Bus Éireann, CIE, the ESB or Bord Gáis, it should pay rates like every other body and should not have them paid by the taxpayer through the back door. The legislation provides State aid, and it should not happen. I am against Irish Water to start with, and it is a further insult to the people to ask them to pay the rates bill of Irish Water, a body with which people are not happy. The principle I am establishing here is very clear. I am opposed to special treatment for Irish Water.

The arguments on Irish Water have been well-rehearsed in this House, the other House and in public. If the intention of Deputy Fleming's amendment is to make Irish Water rateable, I am advised that it would not succeed in doing so, even if passed. Schedule 3 sets out classes of property that are regarded as relevant property for the purposes of valuation. Schedule 3 describes property in very general terms and includes all types of buildings, mines, networks, rights to drill for petroleum, tolls, advertising stations and so on. All rateable property is described at a high level in just two pages in Schedule 3. Given that Schedule 3 does not need specific references to owners or occupiers such as Irish Water, the amendment would duplicate what is already provided for. Irish Water's property, be it buildings, land or networks, is already captured in Schedule 3. The amendment proposed would not make Irish Water rateable. Exemptions for the rates are provided for in Schedule 4 and the exemption from rates for Irish Water is provided for in subsection 21 of Schedule 4 of the Valuation Act 2001, as inserted by section 12 of the Water Services Act 2014, as the Deputy said. The reasons for making this exemption have been well-rehearsed and were fully debated when the Water Services Act 2014 was making its way through the Oireachtas. I do not propose to accept the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 28, after line 38, to insert the following:

"(a) by inserting the following before paragraph 1:

"A1. Any part of a building used for the purpose of providing the Early Child Care Education Scheme.".".

We discussed similar amendments to these on Committee Stage and I have refined the wording. Amendment No. 9 provides that, "Any part of a building used for the purpose of providing the Early Child Care Education Scheme" should be exempt from commercial rates while amendment No. 10 provides that "Any part of land or building used by a body for the purposes of caring for sick persons under the Fair Deal Scheme" should also be exempt. The early child care year is part of the education system. No rates are payable in general by schools and educational facilities but many buildings are used exclusively for the early child care education scheme. I have checked with seven or eight different local authorities over the past few days. Some community facilities are not charged rates while others fly under the radar. A number of private facilities are rated while others are not.

I am trying to provide a level playing pitch for all educational facilities. A minority of the 4,300 child care centres that cater for up to 100,000 children under the ECCE scheme and community child care schemes pay rates. I do not know if it is 1,000 or 1,500 of them because it is difficult to obtain that information. However, the majority do not pay rates for a variety of reasons. To level the playing pitch and reduce the cost of providers of this service and to help make child care affordable, the neatest, cleanest and easiest is to say a building used for the ECCE scheme should be exempt from commercial rates. The Minister of State will refer to the distinction between profit driven and not-for-profit providers. Essentially, I am arguing about instances where practically all the money in a facility goes specifically for that purpose - in some cases it may all attach to that purpose and the Minister cannot say if it is all exempt as that is not provided for in the legislation unless he can show me otherwise.

Many community nursing homes run by the HSE around the country do not pay commercial rates but many of their patients have been outsourced to the private sector and they are funded under the fair deal scheme. Many nursing homes are exclusively funded through the scheme and do not have patients who pay €1,000 a week out of their own resources. Those buildings should be exempt as well. I will press amendment No. 9.

I approached this with an open mind, as Deputy Fleming and his colleagues in the Seanad will acknowledge, given the extensive discussions we have had on the issue of child care during the passage of the legislation. I will respond on the amendment relating to child care in more detail but many of the points I will make are also relevant to buildings used for care of the sick and care of the elderly.

The question of exempting child care has been considered on many occasions throughout the legislative process on a number of stages in both Houses. I was pleased to introduce an amendment in the Seanad which exempts not-for-profit providers of child care, as this exemption will remove anomalies, to which the Deputy referred and about which I was conscious, that existed in practice between the treatment of not-for-profit providers by different local authorities and the distinction that has to be made under the legislation between not-for-profit and charitable providers. It is important that we have legislative clarity and that is why my amendment relating to not-for-profit providers agreed by the Seanad brings that into play.

The issue was more recently considered on Committee Stage when the Deputy tabled an amendment that would have exempted all child care providers. I undertook to consider the issue again and I appreciate that the Deputy has altered his amendment and is seeking that parts of the buildings used for the ECCE scheme be exempted and he is not seeking a blanket exemption. I appreciate this response to our discussion on Committee Stage, which reflects a constructive approach on his part to find an acceptable solution to this issue. I take it from the altered amendment that there is an acceptance in the House that for-profit providers of any service should not get a blanket exemption. This has always been my starting point. If one operates a business with the intention of making a profit, one is rateable.

The child care sector can be divided into a number of subsets. Before I tabled the amendment to exempt not-for-profit providers, we had a distinction between them and charitable providers. The amendment removed that distinction. There had been an interpretation of the legislation by the Valuation Office that exempts from rates those that only provide the ECCE year. This is an anomaly and should not be used as a precedent to expand the anomaly. That relates to paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 in respect of education, which has an exemption for ECCE only facilities. The Deputy asked for his reference.

There is an acceptance in his amendment that those that provide non-ECCE services for profit should be rateable. The subject of his amendment is, therefore, a subset: those that provide ECCE and non-ECCE services for profit with the amendment attempting to extract the ECCE part of the business. I apologise if this is difficult to follow but no other sector has been analysed and subdivided to the same extent and it is not my intention to make it complicated. The distinction being made to support the new amendment is not around who is the operator and what are his or her profit motives but who is the perceived customer. As the State is making the subvention, it is viewed as the customer and, by extension, parallels are being drawn with primary schools etc. I cannot accept this argument, as if I do, it will have implications that go far beyond child care. I have to return to the distinction between the child care operator that provides a service for profit and those that are not for profit. Even if I was minded to accept the amendment, there would be major practical difficulties with its implementation. A valuation will hold for five to ten years. The number of ECCE pupils could vary from year to year and, therefore, it would be difficult to arrive at an apportionment of value in advance.

The same reasons I have outlined for not agreeing the child care amendment apply to the amendment that would exempt a part of a building used for caring for the sick under the fair deal scheme. If the provider is operating for profit, then he or she is rateable. There would also be practical difficulties in apportioning a building based on the status of those occupying it. As with the ECCE scheme, the mix of occupants would vary from year to year, which is not helpful in trying to reach a valuation that would be valid for a five to ten year period.

I genuinely appreciate what the Deputy is trying to do and I have given it significant consideration. I am pleased we are clearing up a number of anomalies in respect of child care and bringing consistency to the application of rates for the not-for-profit sector while ensuring a clear understanding in legislation in this regard, which is welcome. Clearly, as a country we have much more to do on the issue of child care but there are many methods and models through which to address it other than through this legislation. It is not a valuation issue. I accept what the Deputy is trying to do but I am afraid I cannot accept the amendment.

I am disappointed with the Minister of State's response. I acknowledge he accepts the principle and I was looking for a generous response rather than a technical response. I understand the distinction he has drawn in dividing the building and I accept the building use can change over the valuation period but this is the classic Sir Humphrey response. The Minister of State agrees in principle that something can be done in this regard and he agrees with what I am trying to achieve but he has been given a list of technical excuses to say he cannot do what is essentially the decent thing to do.

I mentioned that in various towns not-for-profit and private sector providers operate on the same street. The Minister of State thought that one was in one category and the other was in a different category. Perhaps I am being slightly hard on him.

He said on Committee Stage that he did not think they were in competition with each other but they are. They essentially provide the same service and they are educational facilities. If primary schools were not exempted, the officials would come up with the same set of excuses for not exempting them such as renting the school hall to the camogie club at the weekend for a few bob. That may have been exempted but the Minister of State could construct a reason to exclude every organisation and body that is exempted if he wanted. However, if he wanted to be generous, he could have accepted the amendment and I am disappointed he has not.

I have yet to meet the Sir Humphrey to whom the Deputy continually refers. His Fianna Fáil colleagues must have taken him with them when they left office.

What I have been trying to do in this legislation is to fix a number of anomalies from the previous valuations Bill, including the fact that sports clubs were being penalised well beyond their commercial activity, and trying to provide clarity in simplifying the definitions of "charity" and "not for profit". I do not know if Deputy Fleming could, but I certainly could not clearly outline the difference between a charitable child care provider and a not-for-profit child care provider. As the Deputy says, there were differences throughout the country in how that was being interpreted by local authorities. I have tried to make that very clear on a legislative footing in this Bill, an amendment that was welcomed in the Seanad by all parties.

The Deputy calls on me to do the generous thing. The generous thing to do in relation to child care is for the interdepartmental group to move forward with proposals - it will report back to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs shortly - to continue the €170 million a year subvention to the ECCE scheme, and to use the valuations Bill for what it is intended: to attach a real value to people operating businesses. For every person and every element of business that I exempt in this Bill, someone else must be found in a particular town to pay more. The pie stays the same size for every county. If Deputy Fleming wants to tell the butcher in his town that he is going to pay more because the child care provider set up for profit is not paying rates, that is a political point he is entitled to make. I am trying to have consistency in this Bill and my consistency is based on the idea that if a business is established for the purpose of profit, it pays rates; if it is not for profit, it does not.

The last point the Minister of State made is the reason I am opposed to this legislation in its entirety. My remark about Sir Humphrey was not directed at any particular officials, in case somebody thought I had a person or group of people in mind. The Minister of State said the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker might have to pay more because the total amount of rates is fixed in a local authority area. We have had this on Committee and Second Stage. There are counties in Ireland where business activity has gone up and the rates bill for the county is fixed when a revaluation is done. Some of those businesses are paying less in rates than they would if they were in a neighbouring county where business has not improved to the same extent. The local authority rateable area is outmoded. It goes back to a previous century, and this is one of the reasons I suggested the Government should scrap this entire process and go for self-assessment. The reasons the Minister of State has quoted constitute one of the principal reasons I am against this legislation. We have discussed the early child care and education scheme at length. I do not know whether the Minister has an opportunity to reply on this-----

On the Fair Deal scheme, there are many private nursing homes, which, although they are run for profit, are essentially doing the same job as the community hospitals were doing for the HSE, which has now outsourced it at a fixed price to the private sector. They may make a profit, but that is possible - the Minister of State did make a distinction between charitable and not-for-profit organisations. Many profit-making organisations have charitable status. There are many organisations that exist for profit but do charitable work and have a legitimate charity number from the Revenue Commissioners. There is confusion between what is a charitable organisation, what is a not-for-profit organisation, and what is a profit-making organisation, and in fact they can all combine. An organisation may be run for profit but may also have a charitable tax number.

Time is running out. I had intended to call a full Dáil vote on this, but I want to do that on the passage of the legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 29, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following:

“(b) by substituting for paragraph 8 the following:

“8. Any part of land or building used by a body for the purposes of caring for sick persons under the Fair Deal Scheme.”.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 33, after line 29, to insert the following:

“(4) Subsection (3) is in addition to the provision made by section 14 with respect to the commencement of the amendment to which that section relates.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 26.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Walsh, Brian.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Joe Carey; Níl, Deputies Brendan Smith and Sean Fleming.
Question declared carried.

The Bill, which is considered to be a Bill initiated in Dáil Éireann in accordance with Article 20.2.2° of the Constitution, will be sent to the Seanad.