Finance Bill 2020: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

Debate resumed on amendment No. 59:
In page 29, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:
“12. Within four weeks of the passing of this Act, the Minister shall produce a report on whether the Covid Restriction Support Scheme is accessible to and has provided meaningful financial support for self-employed/lone traders in sectors such as the taxi industry, music, arts, live entertainment and other similarly affected sectors.”.
-(Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett)

When we concluded yesterday evening, Deputy Danny Healy-Rae was in possession. We were on amendment No. 59. Do any other Members wish to speak?

I support amendment No. 59 from Deputy Boyd Barrett and his group. It is very important and relates to having a report to evaluate how the CRSS is working. We all know that these schemes were introduced in a hurry. There was not much time to devise them and the schemes are broadly based. However, there are certain cohorts that have not been embraced at all from the point of view of the scheme. I refer to publicans aged over 66, bus drivers, self-employed taxi drivers who own their taxis and those who have ready-mix trucks. It is a large cohort.

Some of those involved in the music and arts industry have great bands and a great following all over the world, from Nashville to Ballydehob, but I am talking about the local ones in Tiobraid Árann, from Carrick-on-Suir to Moneygall, and the valuable entertainment they give. There is the famous Louise Morrissey, Trudi Lalor, Fran Curry and Muriel. I could stay naming them for the day. They give great enjoyment and they have a large following. I do not know if they will ever be able to fine-tune their voices again and to get back on the road. The spirit will not be killed in them, because they have the spirit to entertain and they love it. They get empathy back from the full halls and other venues such as the Brú Ború cultural centre. They travel far and near. They must have a van to deliver their equipment, whether they are solo acts or two persons. It is usually only one or two people. The equipment costs a fortune. Sound engineers and lighting engineers are also required. The valuable pieces of equipment are very specialised. They have put lots of money into it, but they have also trained heavily in how to use it. They cannot avail of the scheme because they do not have a rateable building, as their investment is in the van parked outside the house. They had to borrow for that. In many cases they also have a lien on their house to cover the payments and they are not getting what they should be getting. It is a case of ní neart go cur le chéile. They are not getting those supports and there are many others in a similar position.

I will finish on this point, a Cheann Comhairle. This morning there were dance teachers outside Leinster House, mainly from Dublin, but they were also from as far away as Wexford, Gorey and New Ross. They have been denied the right to go back to work. Children had written letters to say how much they love dance, that they want to dance and asking to be let dance. As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said last night, I am into Irish dancing. There are many forms of dance from ballet to the performance arts and they have massive studios which are safe places. There may be 30 children in a class in a prefab with a múinteoir and perhaps two special needs assistants in a small area, while there are dance studios four times as big as that with proper ventilation. Something must be done for those people to allow them to get back to work, not only for the teachers, the múinteoirí, and the families and businesses but for their mental health and the rinceoirí óga, the young dancers, regardless of the type of dance they do. The types of dance are wide and varied. I have never even seen many of them. Children want to dance. It is not fair that a boy and a girl in a dance school are not allowed to dance or to get tuition but a boy can go to train for GAA, rugby and soccer. They are just kept away from dancing. It is very hard to keep buachaillí óga involved in dance of any form because in the teenage years they drift off into cooler stuff. For some children, dancing is their thing. Look at Riverdance. Look at Scoil Rince Ní Chraith. I must declare an interest in that as it is my own niece. My own daughter wanted to go to the world championship this year but that did not happen. They have all been devastated, but they need to get back to dance because it is their life and they love it. It is part of our culture and heritage and it is protected under a European convention. We are trampling over the Constitution and we must go back to basics and let these people flourish. Look at the added value we will get. Look at what Riverdance brought to us and all the other shows. Look at Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann travelling the world, across four or five continents. That is progress and we need to embrace that again.

My contribution will be short. I did mention last night to the Minister, but our discussion was cut short, about pubs whose kitchens are not considered sufficient and they have been forced to close. They will not be entitled to the CRSS funding either because they did sell food previously. It would be fine if they were allowed to open but they are not. Because they sold food that they were able to make on the premises without a full kitchen, they are losing out on the payment. I would appreciate if the Minister could make a statement on that.

A lot of other groups have also lost out because they do not have premises but that did not mean that they were not employing people. I refer to people involved in tourism and booking holidays. Although they did not have a premises, that did not mean they were not employing large numbers of people. They have been losing out on payments. People who were involved in activities, for example in Kinsale and as far as Castletownbere, such as water sports for example, do not have a premises but their business is closed. They are falling between two stools and that is putting them in a very unfair situation. I know it is very hard to expect the Minister to tick every box and for him to find money for everything, but the livelihoods of some people have been seriously hampered during the pandemic.

Deputy Mattie McGrath is the "senior Minister" when it comes to Irish dancing. He has supported Irish dancing in recent years in the Dáil. Like him, I met with the Irish dancers outside the Dáil today. They are terribly hurt. They have only danced for seven days since last March. They can work in a socially distanced way. Money is not required. It is good for their mental health. It is good for the children and for their development. Children love dancing. They have been sending letters and emails to us. It is our culture. If looks to me that in this pandemic anything to do with our culture has been stopped. There is the public house where people used to love to meet, tell stories, sing and play music or dance. It is our Irish culture that the Minister is attacking. He is not finding a way forward. People are quite willing to work with whatever restrictions are put before them, but they need someone to talk to them and to work with them. If that does not happen, then the Government is ruining our culture, but it is also ruining employment that people have spent so much time and effort putting together. As I stated, activities such as water sports do not have premises. All of these issues need to be addressed, including pubs with small kitchens that are not allowed to open now because they do not have a chef. They are being exempted from the CRSS funding. I would welcome the Minister's comments on that.

I will be brief. I wish to raise two points with the Minister. The first is dance groups around the country. We were lucky during the recent lockdown that children were at least able to train outdoors for sport, but a lot of young people do not get involved in sport and, for them, dance is a very important physical activity, especially from a mental health as well as a physical health point of view. Because dance happens indoors, it is being shut down, point blank, under the current restrictions. It is a bit like the argument that was made about churches previously. The reality is that all of these groups have put together comprehensive plans to minimise risk. It is important that we do not just look at this purely from the point of view of managing Covid-19. We must weigh up the potential risks that exist, the comprehensive set of mitigation measures that are being put in place and we must also look at the physical and mental impact on children. I come back to the argument that I made to the Taoiseach on a number of occasions in terms of providing the evidence and data on this issue. The reality is that if it is done right and it is managed right there is a very minimal risk, but there is a significant benefit, in particular for young people. I ask the Minister to look at this issue.

The second issue is public houses. I accept that it is a complex issue. There are certain agendas, not within the Government, but with some of the medical advice regarding public houses in general and that is an issue that is going to have to be addressed. If public houses are managed properly, and the vast majority of them are, then there is not a risk with them. There were some that abused the situation, or there was abuse on their premises, and it did cause problems but that was in a minority of cases. That said, we need to look in a far more comprehensive manner at the licensed trade across this country in the same way as when we discussed post offices previously.

If there are two or three pubs in a village, is there a case for allowing a mechanism whereby some of those licences could be bought out to sustain the viability of the pubs that remain? Is there a way to put a comprehensive support package in place for the businesses that wish to remain in the sector in order to ensure we have that network across the country which is coming under severe strain and pressure? I believe that many publicans will never open their doors again. That will have its own impact on communities across the country. We need a far more comprehensive approach with regard to the licensed trade across the country. The Minister needs to bring all of the players around a table and come up with a blueprint and strategy for that sector because it is a key social outlet for so many people.

I wish to raise an issue I have been raising for many months. It is not a new issue. I raised it first in March, when the then Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, stated that all student nurses would be paid for the duration of the pandemic. I may be wrong, but the pandemic has not gone away. The only thing that has gone away is the payment for student nurses. The restriction and strain on the health service have not gone away. What has gone away is the Fine Gael promise to look after the student nurses who are working on the front line. In March, a Fianna Fáil Deputy who is now a Minister stated that student nurses should be paid. She stated that these students and trainees deserve to be paid like all other nurses during the Covid-19 period. Fianna Fáil Deputies posted all over social media about the need to pay student nurses. They said they would be a voice for those student nurses and they called on the Government to sort out this issue. They then had a chance to be a voice for the student nurses and to sort out this issue but, instead, they voted against student nurses. How could we expect anything else?

Less than a month away from the strangest Christmas any of us will ever experience and nine months into fighting the pandemic, what did nurses and midwives get in the post this week? They did not get recognition of their hard work. One cannot post a round of applause to them. They got a letter asking them to pay €100 for the privilege of fighting Covid-19 on the front line for this country. Nurses have told me they are paying for the privilege of holding the hands of dying patients because their families cannot be there to do it. I do not say that lightly; it is what nurses have told me. That is what nurses are doing. They are paying for the privilege of bruises on their faces from wearing masks all day long. They are paying for the privilege of working long shifts in understaffed hospitals. They look to places such as Scotland, where NHS staff are getting £500 as a "thank you" for their work. We have a retention crisis here. How can we expect nurses and midwives to stay here when they can see they will be recognised and appreciated elsewhere? There is nothing in the Bill for nurses. The Government should hang its head in shame.

I have to say I do not think amendments Nos. 59 and 60 in any way address the issue of nurses, but c'est la vie.

The amendments are in my name but I am hoping to hear from the Minister before I get a chance to respond.

I too wish to raise my concern at the way student nurses are treated. Is it any wonder we cannot retain or recruit enough nurses? Who would want to take up the job given the way they are being disrespected and treated very badly? I call on the Government to try to redeem itself by making sure student nurses and midwives are awarded a pay increase and that the retention fee of €100 is waived. Clapping them one minute and cutting them down the next is just outrageous. I ask for that issue to be considered.

On the issue of dance classes, several dance class teachers were outside Leinster House this morning. I met them and discussed many issues with them. It makes no sense that they are restricted so much. They have taken every measure they could possibly take. They have mortgages to pay. Children are back in school but cannot attend dance classes. One dance teacher told me that children and teenagers are absolutely heartbroken and that it is having a serious effect on their mental health and well-being. I appeal to the Government to please show some goodwill and fairness in terms of lifting this restriction because it makes no sense when children are back in school and everything else. This issue needs to be looked at.

I understand children can participate in soccer training but there is significant concern among schoolboy and schoolgirl soccer clubs in the midlands that children cannot participate in matches. Doing so is good for their well-being and, indeed, helps to keep them healthy, the importance of which we hear so much about. We are told that children need to participate in sports and that it is encouraged. There needs to be some common sense shown. I appeal on behalf of the soccer clubs that are very disillusioned for children to be allowed to play matches.

Cinemas being open but theatres not being allowed to open is also a very serious issue. It has been brought to my attention that Birr Theatre and Arts Centre has a cinema club. There is no cinema in the town and the cinema club, which is within the theatre, cannot open because of this restriction. I appeal to the Government to show some goodwill and understanding and empathy for people. What is lacking is empathy for the hardship people are going through, some of it unnecessarily. Some of the restrictions are completely over the top and make no sense. Indeed, some Ministers and backbench Deputies have admitted that some of the measures make no sense. We need to revisit them and I ask for that issue in particular to be considered.

Rural pubs are being treated shamefully. We hear the Government talking about rural Ireland and supporting a vibrant rural economy, which is a commitment in the programme for Government, yet we are seeing that rural pubs are absolutely being trampled on. I have seen many rural pubs and I can tell the Minister that they are as clean as or cleaner than many surgeries and hospital wards. They have put in place every measure possible. The Government has to remember that, unfortunately, rural pubs do not face the same scenario as pubs in Dublin. They do not have big crowds of people coming in. There might be ten people or maybe 15 people at the weekend in each local pub The restriction is having a significant impact. The Government is speaking from two sides of its mouth all of the time. It talks about rural isolation, but what about people living on their own who go to their local pub for a sociable drink? It is the only time they meet anybody. I have been told by constituents that they do not see anybody, apart from possibly seeing the postman three or four times a week. That is a serious issue. The Government is seriously damaging people and impacting on their mental health with the unfair restrictions it is imposing. Many rural pubs will never reopen because of the measures the Government has taken. I have supported those pubs from day one and I will continue to do so along with my colleagues in the Rural Independent Group.

The Government needs to look at what it is doing and the impact that is having on people's mental health and well-being. We need to make sure that experts from every sector are included in any decision-making. I believe the whole thing is going wrong because we do not have insightful experts providing their accounts and information to be factored into the decisions that are made. The decisions are being taken on a whim and I think some of them have gone much too far and need to be revisited. Some of them need to be pulled back. We absolutely need to take precautions but we cannot create a police state where the Government takes responsibility for every citizen. There has to be personal responsibility. I believe the State needs to ease up in that regard. The Government is going much too far. The draconian measures that are in place are absolutely going to destroy rural Ireland.

I come from a constituency where an unjust transition is taking place. There have been many job losses and farmers are struggling. Now the Government is trying to take away our rural pubs and everything else. The Government needs to take stock of the impact its poor decision-making is having on rural constituencies, such as Laois-Offaly, and many others.

I remind Members that we have limited time to conclude our work on this Bill. It will be important, notwithstanding my general willingness to allow people flexibility, that we focus on the subject matter of the amendments. Does the Minister wish to comment on these amendments?

I will deal first with the amendment from Deputy Boyd Barrett. He is genuinely raising an issue concerning groups of workers severely affected by the impact of Covid-19 and who are finding it desperately hard to rebuild their incomes and to imagine getting their jobs back. This CRSS is broad in that it is available to all parts of our economy which meet two criteria. The first is that businesses must have a premises and the second is that the premises is closed or has a very low level of trading due to the guidance given by the Government regarding public health.

I accept that means some groups of workers are not included in this scheme. Within those groups is a smaller group of workers who, for example, cannot participate in the employment wage subsidy scheme, EWSS, which is a massive source of support now to almost 350,000 of our fellow citizens. Changes, however, were made to the PUP payment to allow people to do some work and retain all or some of that payment. My colleagues, the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan and the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, have funding available, and they are using those funds to launch schemes to try to support workers in the sectors to which Deputy Boyd Barrett referred. I have no doubt at all that the Deputy will raise the case of those musicians who have been unable to get funding. As we move into 2021, however, and maybe even later this year, I believe there will be opportunities for other rounds of funding to be run to allow, for example, more musicians and artists access funding to allow them to participate in the events or fund the activities to which the Deputy has referred.

I reiterate what I said in a different section of this Finance Bill. The different programmes contained in this legislation are helping hundreds of thousands of workers now. Unfortunately, however, whenever we are designing any kind of a programme, particularly in dealing with an emergency such as this one, I will always hear more about those who are just about excluded from schemes such as this than I will about those who are included in and benefiting from these schemes because they deserve to benefit from them and they need that benefit. That is fine, because that is the way debate in the Oireachtas should be. It is understandable that we should be continually raising issues regarding those who are not receiving support but who Teachtaí feel should be. This is why the Ministers, Deputies Ryan and Martin, are putting in place programmes and changes to attempt to offer further help to the workers to whom Deputy Boyd Barrett has referred.

Regarding dancing, which has been touched on by several Deputies, it is not covered in this Bill, but I recognise the work dance teachers do and how valuable that is. From personal experience, I also know how valuable dance classes are and the effect they have on the well-being and physical health of young girls and boys. I understand that aspect, but again, we have received advice and guidance from our public health professionals and experts regarding things we should not do if we are trying to facilitate the opening of more of our economy and society. The advice we received and which we considered, and we examined this matter separately ourselves, is that certain forms of activity are safer to open now and to continue to keep open. I refer to non-contact physical training, for example. There is a higher level of risk, however, if we allow contact games or indoor physical activity.

I recognise that creates hardship, but that is not because, as a Deputy suggested, we are trying to create a police state. It is also not because any decisions are being taken on a whim. We are very much aware of the impact of all the decisions we must make. They are difficult decisions. To support the opening of as much of our economy and society as possible, however, it will be the case that for some time we will need to leave other parts of our society not being able to function in the way they would wish. We must make trade-offs now for the benefit of trying to get as much of our society open as possible. These are not decisions made from a lack of empathy or understanding. Opposition Deputies can meet a group and come in here and represent the interests of that group. I do not have the luxury of being able to focus on one group. I have a duty to all groups and to all of our society. We are trying to get as much of society open as we can, and to do that safely. Trade-offs are, unfortunately, required which are difficult but necessary to allow that opening to happen.

Regarding the issue concerning pubs, we also discussed this issue in other parts of the Finance Bill. To reiterate those arguments briefly, the data we looked at and the advice we received indicated that if we are seeking to open some pubs, restaurants and hotels, then to be able to keep them open safely and sustainably for as long as we can, we must make choices elsewhere. It is hard for those who experience the consequences of those choices and it is hard to make those decisions.

Turning to the CRSS, any scheme which is intended to apply to so much of our economy must have simple criteria that can be easily understood and applied by the Revenue Commissioners. For those businesses which fall outside the remit of this scheme, there are many other schemes which they can participate in and benefit from. Those businesses need that benefit and support, and we are trying to keep them going during what I know is a very difficult time.

There is a cruel irony in the exclusion of certain groups of people, whose incomes and employment have been hardest hit by the pandemic, from a scheme which is called the Covid restrictions support scheme. The threshold for this support is turnover being down by 25% to cover the ongoing costs which businesses have. I refer to insurance, fuel, maintenance and repayment costs. Since March, I have been highlighting two cohorts who have been the most impacted. Musicians have not seen their incomes impacted by 25%, or 30% or 40%, but by 80%, 90% or even 100%. If they do not have a premises, however, musicians are excluded from the CRSS. How are they supposed to pay insurance? How are they supposed to make repayments? How are they supposed to survive?

I refer to the anger expressed by musicians yesterday, 87% of whom were excluded from the award scheme provided by the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin. That gives us an indication of the cruel injustice of this situation.

Most musicians do not get the music industry stimulus package, MISP, award. Most musicians do not get the Covid restrictions support scheme, CRSS. Yet they are the people who are among the hardest, if not the hardest, hit along with the crews - the sound engineers and the light engineers - who stand behind them. It is not fair. I appeal to the Minister to make this scheme available to them.

I will talk about the taxi drivers in my final contribution.

I too will be as brief as I can. The cohort Deputy Boyd Barrett referred to, musicians, are such a vital part of our being and our entertainment and they have been excluded. I refer to the funding administered by the Departments of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. Some groups got funding under two or three schemes, but 87% of single acts, double acts and small groups got nothing. They cannot live on the wind. We are not making this up.

I do not like the Minister's attitude that we come in here and we have the privilege of meeting groups outside the gate. We live in the communities. We get down and dirty with the people. Maybe it is because the Minister lives in Dublin 4, Dublin 3 or whatever part of Dublin that he does not know what the people in rural Ireland think. The people of rural Ireland are proud of their heritage and of their culture and they want to work. They do not want handouts and payouts and Ireland ending at the M50. They are proud of what they have. I will not take lectures from the Minister again today, as I did last night, that we are trying to have fun.

The Minister has had since March. I acknowledged at the outset that the scheme was rushed. We had to put a provision in place hurriedly but eight months later, we have not adapted or adjusted it. We do not have the right people on the National Public Health Emergency Team, NPHET, to embrace the whole nation - the musicians, the actors and all the self-employed - and to have an understanding of those people and, above all, their mental health. It is shocking the damage to mental health. Some people live for those shows and the lift they give them. They look forward from one week to the next to the social dancing outlets and they travel miles to them. That is their life, and they love it.

We will not have an industry. These artists cannot go off digging spuds or coal or cutting turf anymore - it is all gone as well. We want them to entertain. We want Comhaltas to flourish under the ardstiúrthóir, an t-iar-Sheanadóir Labhrás Ó Murchú, agus a bhean chéile, Úna. The Ceann Comhairle was in Caiseal na Mumhan in Brú Ború. What wonderful culture. The music, the dance, the song and the skills would sell Ireland alone without any of us opening our mouths or any schemes or anything else.

We are looking after the people who have been left behind, and after facing nine months to Christmas without a penny, they need support and they need to be allowed to live.

As there is nobody else offering, does Deputy Boyd Barrett want to address the taxi issue?

I was hoping the Minister would respond to the direct point I am making about that group before I make my final contribution.

It would be the Minister's second intervention and he cannot come in again. Maybe it would be as well if he heard what Deputy Boyd Barrett wants to say about the taxis.

Okay. The same argument that I made for the musicians and the crews, who I want to emphasise are behind the musicians, applies to the taxi drivers. The taxi drivers' income is either non-existent because is not worth going out on the road or, for those who go out on the road, is down approximately 70%. They have repayments on their cars. How are they supposed to make them? A taxi driver has to put fuel in his or her car to drive around the city looking for non-existent fares. How are they supposed to pay for that? How are they supposed to pay their insurance? The Minister has got to give them an answer. The pandemic unemployment payment, which I acknowledge the Government made changes to, is not enough to cover their ongoing costs.

The reason CRSS was brought in, and is being given to businesses, is that the Government knows the huge numbers of businesses it is giving money to cannot meet their bills for maintenance, rent, insurance and repayments. The Government acknowledged that point but for some inexplicable reason, it denies it to a group such as the taxi drivers who carry those same costs, the only difference being that a taxi driver's premises is his or her taxi. It is a moving premises, but it is the taxi driver's place of work. The taxi is what the taxi driver has invested in in order to have his or her small business as a sole trader. I do not see how it is difficult to tweak the scheme to allow their inclusion and allow them to sustain themselves until things get back to where they were.

I have made the argument. I would like to hear the Minister justify it. It would not cost much to do this but, God Almighty, it would remove much stress, pressure and hardship from 23,000 taxi drivers and their families, and the same goes for the musicians and the crew.

The reason we made the changes in the PUP was exactly in recognition of the points that were made by Deputy Boyd Barrett. We brought in a scheme to support businesses that are shut or businesses that have an incredibly low level of trading because of public health guidance. However, the overwhelming majority of businesses that are on this scheme are completely shut.

We have many different schemes available to try to support those who cannot be helped by this scheme. The Department of Transport and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media have funding in place for programmes that are responding to the issues being raised by Deputy Boyd Barrett.

What we can do to best give the workers, to whom the Deputy is referring, the chance of a better income is to be able to safely reopen our economy and to give people confidence in public health. This, in turn, goes back to the arguments we had earlier regarding the difficult choices that are involved in doing this.

There is a justification for what we are doing in this scheme. This scheme is really valuable. It does something that will not always be acknowledged in this debate. It may be acknowledged by some. It is providing very valuable support to thousands of businesses on top of the other supports we have in place. The Departments, the Ministers, the Arts Council and the National Transport Authority, NTA, have the funding, have the ability and are responding as much as they can to the issues specific to the workers and to the sectors they are responsible for and that they regulate.

Is amendment No. 59 being pressed?

It is being pressed. On a point of order, can I ask what happens if we call a vote now because there are seven committees meeting in Leinster House and Deputies, certainly, in the case of our group, are attending them? There is no way many of those Deputies would be able to make it over for a vote.

One can have a voice vote.

I am merely pointing out that many Deputies would be disenfranchised if we called a vote. I am minded to call a vote but it is a little unfair on all the Deputies attending committees in Leinster House. Maybe we had not envisaged it. We are in a difficult position. It is a bit of a problem.

Has Deputy McGrath a point to add?

It is the same point. I support that point of order. It is extremely unfair on the colleagues who attending committees in Leinster House. It is the same every day - over and back to committees. It is very difficult.

I would like to call a vote - I discussed this with Deputy Boyd Barrett - because it is such an issue and there is such a large cohort of people who are not getting a penny. The Minister will talk about what he gives them in supports but it is not getting to the people on the ground who need it.

I do not know about calling a vote. It is unfair.

The Business Committee report was circulated. Everybody knew the schedule for the week. The Members who are in Leinster House at committees knew that we were conducting business here that was votable.

Deputy Boyd Barrett knows the outcome of any votes that will be taken. One respects the absolute right of a Member to call a vote but it would seem that the practical response here would be to call a voice vote, and not press it to a full vote. The point would be made in respect of the concerns the Deputies have. That seems to be the best use of the parliamentary time that is available to us, remembering that we are on amendment No. 59 and we have to get to amendment No. 106 before 5.32 p.m. The Deputy must be the arbiter of that.

In the interest of fairness to others who have amendments and to the Deputies who would not be able to make it, I have no choice. Maybe it is a matter for the Business Committee to consider, that is, that the possibility of votes clashing with committees meeting in Leinster House is a real problem.

However, I have to be reasonable and, therefore, I will only press the amendment to a voice vote.

The Deputy is always reasonable.

As the Ceann Comhairle knows.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 60:

In page 29, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

"12. The Minister shall, within three months of the passing of this Act, prepare and lay before Dáil Éireann a report on a levy on large profitable companies to meet the costs of the Covid Restriction Support Scheme and other supports to business.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 61:

In page 33, to delete lines 26 to 28 and substitute the following:

"(2) This section shall come into operation on such day as the Minister for Finance may appoint by order.".

This is a technical amendment relating to the commencement provision in section 13, which allows the Minister, by order, to appoint when the section will come into effect.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 62:

In page 33, to delete lines 29 to 38, to delete page 34, and in page 35, to delete lines 1 to 17.

This amendment addresses a huge issue and is consistent with our policy on the matter within the Rural Independent Group. We are not blindly saying that there is no climate change issue, but we are saying that the carbon tax proposal in the Bill is unacceptable. It is a denial of democracy. I am in this House 13 years and have been involved in debating 13 finance Bills. I might be a slow learner but it is a leap of faith that we will not have the chance to discuss this again until 2030. We already have a plan running until 2040 that is destroying rural Ireland and herding people into the cities. I will not say exactly what I would like to say about the Covid situation other than that it has taught us that it is rural people who are sustaining us. I remember three recessions. During the last recession, it was rural people and farmers who kept the country going.

The carbon tax is impacting hugely on less well-off people and families. We all know that carbon taxes amounting to several billions of euro have already been collected from hard-pressed motorists and householders. That money is not being spent evenly. Deputy Nolan might speak about the just transition aspect because she knows more about it than I do. There is no just response or just payback for people. In fact, it is not about getting payback but the fact that people are not getting the physical infrastructure they need. Fortunately, we have got a blueway in Tipperary and a fabulous greenway in Dungarvan, which is only out the road from me. However, those facilities are being put in place by local authorities, which are having to go into huge debt to do so. I salute the county managers and engineers who are driving these projects, as well as the visionaries and voluntary groups involved. I thank Tríona O'Mahony of Munster Vales and Marie Phelan in Tipperary County Council, who have worked with local communities to drive those projects forward. Knockmealdown Active has done good work in this area. Communities in rural Ireland are trying their best to achieve a good carbon-free environment while also getting the amenities they need for people to get out ag siúl, ag dul ar an rothar agus ag rince, fadó fadó, although that is banished now.

The funds are being extracted from people but there is nothing being given in return. I have not mentioned the farmers, agri-contractors and hauliers. It is not being managed properly. The Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, promised us during the debates we had on the Covid pandemic and the budget that it would be done right, but that is not happening. Places like west Cork did not get a penny for any greenway. It seems like some counties are preferred and others are not. Deputy Michael Collins has said that his part of the country is being treated like Jurassic Park. It is a beautiful part of the country, not Jurassic Park, but a lot of the Ministers, and the Taoiseach, go there on holiday and then seem to forget about it. They want rural Ireland to be a kind of playground, or a docile place they can visit. We saw the same attitude in the recent debate about greyhound racing. Some people in this House want to kill that industry, which together with horse racing, provides 40,000 jobs. Are we going to have a utopian state where we are all smoking marijuana and listening to rock music or whatever? Whale watching is something else we have heard mentioned. I am talking about the everyday person who is going to work and trying to pay his mortgage, look after his family and educate the children. There is discrimination against rural people in areas like transport, education and broadband. People trying to learn and work from home cannot do so. A family at home with one broadband line might have three or four children trying to do schoolwork and the father and mother trying to work, all at the same time. They are all fighting over the one bit of poor broadband, or having to go into the village to access broadband and do their work.

The proposal on carbon tax is dastardly and it has been introduced in such a way that we do not have a right to review it. I hope we will be back in Leinster House next year, rather than in the convention centre, but no matter where we are, we cannot discuss this provision. I have never seen anything like it. The carbon tax provision will be passed in this Finance Bill and we will not have a chance to evaluate it next year or the year after, na blianta ag fás, until 2030. That cannot be right or fair. It is my duty, as a Deputy representing rural people, to say that this is wrong. It is a denial of democracy at its most basic. We have been talking about the denial of rights that come with the Covid restrictions, but this denial of democracy has nothing to do with Covid. This grandiose scheme comes on top of the 2040 plan, which should be derailed and dismantled. We have very few rail lines now but this is one train that should be halted and taken off the track because it is destroying the fabric of rural Ireland. People cannot build a house or a farm building, or take out the forestry that needs to be replaced, because of the carbon footprint and the serial objectors.

As I said, the whole of rural Ireland is seen as a kind of a playground that is to be admired and where one drives to see the scenery. I do not know what the Government wants us to do. Are we to go back into hovels and be like the cavemen back in the antediluvian times? It is shocking and it is not acceptable. I would not be representing my people if I did not speak up about it. I know the Government will vote down this amendment but the fact that we cannot debate the provision next year beats Banagher. I have nothing against Banagher or Offaly but that is an old saying we have in Tiobraid Árann. The wool is being pulled over people's eyes. Countless hundreds of millions - in fact, billions - of euro have been paid in carbon tax by farmers, contractors, road hauliers and ordinary motorists over the past ten years and more. They are not getting anything back for it. There is very little or no return. We get announcements in the budget about the Luas, the DART and God knows what else. There are proposals for terminals at Dublin Airport and to widen the streets and put in bus lanes, all here in the capital. The capital does not own Ireland. We know that and the people in Dublin know it now. We all feed into the capital and there are more places than Dublin to be looked after.

There are very few rail lines in Tipperary and the rail services are not being run at proper times. There is no proper, joined-up thinking about public transport and related issues. We all want electric cars but we cannot afford them and there are not enough service and charging points. It is all grand in plan and theory but it is a different story on the ground. For the woman trying to heat her cottage or house with a bag of coal, even if she gets a fuel allowance, the carbon tax is adding to the cost. Then we have coal coming across from Northern Ireland and destroying fuel merchant businesses here. There is great inequity and unfairness inherent in the system and it is not acceptable or palatable for rural people or urban people. Why should it be? People in cities and towns also have to pay the carbon tax on their fuel and gas, and that is not fair either. Then we have all the utility companies fleecing people with standing charges. Even for the hotels, shops and pubs that are closed at this time, a fortune is being accrued in utility taxes. It is shocking what is going on.

I cannot accept this provision, especially as there is no chance to evaluate it or have a vote on it next year. We will not even be able to talk about it. It is a nice plan to put it in this Bill and have it there for ten years and the lads cannot even talk about it. It was Marie Antoinette who is supposed to have said, "Let them eat cake". We are sick of eating cake. We would prefer bread and butter and a rasher inside in it. We want a focus on plain living and ordinary living, not sweetness and pie.

I am delighted to have an opportunity to discuss this amendment, which relates to the carbon tax provision. That tax is nothing other than a direct attack on the people of rural Ireland.

I apologise for interrupting but I wish to point out that amendment No. 62 does not relate to the carbon tax provision. It concerns a related policy measure to do with the taxation of vehicles. For the benefit of Deputies, the amendments relating to the carbon tax come later.

I thank the Minister. Deputies need to stick to talking about the subject of this particular amendment.

On a point of clarification, we are not going to get to the later amendments. This amendment is on a related matter and we are entitled to speak on the carbon tax provision. The Ceann Comhairle knows we are not going to get to all the amendments.

I plead with the Deputies to stick to the subject matter before them.

We will. This is related to the fuels, cars and extra costs which have occurred for the ordinary working person. These extra costs are severe for the fishermen, contractors, the hauliers and the farmers, as well as for the ordinary mother and father taking their children to school and going to work every day. The people of rural Ireland - no one else - will have to pay this extra tax.

The carbon tax and all this were designed to take money out of people's pockets in rural Ireland. I was totally opposed to it when it was first sold to my colleagues prior to the general election. They were all in favour of it then and thought it was a great idea. They were told it would raise moneys to give back to rural Ireland in other ways.

The Government failed at the very first hurdle, however. It announced €63 million funding for greenways. The constituency of Cork South-West, which will pay the most carbon tax in this country because it is the most rural part of the country, will not get one brown cent from this greenway funding. Fabulous greenway projects from Cork to Kinsale, Innishannon to Bandon, the Bandon rail line all the way to Bantry, through Drimoleague and Dunmanway, the Bandon rail line to Schull, through Clonakilty and Skibbereen, were refused funding. The moneys to be raised by this carbon tax were meant to put back into rural communities. What really happened was the Government sucked as much as it could out of rural Ireland and landed it back here in the capital to aid projects that need to be carried out. I do not have any issue with that because common sense states there have to be projects here too. I have been proved to be 100% right that the Government failed with the greenway funding, however. If it was a horse at the first hurdle, it would have collapsed and been taken off the track.

The Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar, was holidaying in west Cork. Every time I opened up social media on my phone, it told me the Taoiseach and everyone in the Government was down in west Cork. While they are very welcome, when it comes to the time to give a bit of funding back to the people of west Cork, it is forgotten. The Minister is the man with the keys to this car. He is the driving force. Why has funding not been given to the people of west Cork for the N71 or R586? The road from Bandon to Ballydehob has no passing bays. Eighteen years ago was the last time funding was given for a bypass in Skibbereen. There has not been a brown cent since but only a little bit of pothole and storm damage money. That is a disgrace. We are living there too. It is same with the R586 from Bandon to Bantry.

This is not a county council meeting. We cannot go into every road.

The funding is coming from this pot and it is not coming back to the people. That is the argument I am trying to put. That is why this amendment has been tabled. It is to get the Minister to understand there is no point in putting a carbon tax in place when the moneys raised through the taxes from fuel are taken back to Dublin to spend on big projects there as well as in senior Ministers' constituencies but the people on the ground in rural communities suffer. We need that funding from fuel to be spent in a fair manner, not in an unfair manner.

The bypass at Innishannon, the northern bypass in Bandon and the Bantry bypass have all been waiting for decades for money but there has been no delivery. The money from the fuel tax, the carbon tax or whatever polished word one wants to put on it, can give some kind of delivery. That is not happening, however. The people in my constituency are absolutely furious because they will have to keep forking out until 2040 before we can negotiate this measure again. This is a bad deal. That tax should not be taken out of the pockets of the people of rural Ireland unless it is given back in a fair manner. We cannot be heating the homes or making a warmer home for the people throughout the capital or highly populated areas. The people of rural Ireland need their warmer homes too but they are not getting that.

The humanitarian aid for flooding did not deliver. The Government announces schemes which 80% to 90% of people cannot access. That is not fair. There should have been a roadmap as to where the money would have been spent back in rural, as well as urban, communities. On that, the Government has failed miserably. The people on the ground are those who are going to suffer most.

Fishermen are now paying massive fuel tax for their trawlers. There were further announcements in the past week about the EU Brexit talks and how 18% of Irish fishing stocks has been offered to the UK to bring it on board. Unfortunately, the Irish fishermen and fishing rights are in serious jeopardy. Taxes are being taken from their fuels, and the same as is done to hard-pressed farmers, contractors and hauliers.

How will the Minister spend the taxes from this fuel in future? Has the Government considered the consequences of not spending money in rural Ireland? Is this money going to be spent on infrastructure to open our communities in west Cork? The Government cannot think that a few visits during the summer will suffice as our way forward. I asked the Minister several times about the pubs earlier but I did not hear him answer it. He might have answered it earlier but I did not hear it.

I have been opposed to the measure in question. I have been justified as the Government failed on the first hurdle with it giving €63 million around the rest of the country but dropping west Cork off the map when we are paying the most.

I will speak briefly on this amendment. Again, any tax or measure that the Government brings in discriminates against the people of rural Ireland. It talks about taxes all of the time and lowering CO2 emissions from vehicles. It did not think, however, that rural Ireland is not getting the same chances. There is regional imbalance. The Government is not addressing those issues. Instead, it is loading and hammering us with taxes all the time because it has bowed to a meaningless, empty Green Party rhetoric which has nothing to offer the people of Ireland in general and rural Ireland in particular. We are paying the price for this aspiration and being punished for it.

People say to me in my constituency offices that they feel they are being discriminated against and kept down. We see tax after tax. I have had many conversations about the carbon tax with contractors and farmers. There is disillusionment among Bord na Móna workers with up to 1,000 workers going to lose their jobs. I do not care what scheme the Government brings in. Lately, it spoke about a bog rehabilitation scheme. That will not replace 1,000 jobs.

The midlands is a region which has not been given enough support by the Government. It has been disadvantaged for many years. As far back as 2016, I called for an agency, similar to the Western Development Commission, to be set up. If that had been done in advance, maybe we would not be in such a dire situation now.

For us, it is tax after tax but we are not seeing anything. I have been contacted by many companies and people working from home who do not even have basic broadband infrastructure. There is a great announcement about the roll-out of broadband. Surely to God, common sense would have prevailed and the Government would have prioritised the midlands region, which is already under an unjust transition and is facing job losses. At this point, it is not only about job creation but job retention. The fact the Government is slapping taxes and measures on us but we do not see the benefits of them is concerning.

The Minister for Finance must bear in mind that, when he takes any measure or implements Green Party policy, it does not make sense or meet the needs of people in rural Ireland.

We are paying the price and really being punished for this aspiration and empty rhetoric. Before the Minister makes a decision he needs to think about these regions and remember there is serious regional imbalance and people are struggling. The midlands is the region with the second lowest rate of disposable income. None of this is being taken into account.

The Minister speaks about carbon tax but it will lead to fuel poverty. The Minister is not giving enough money to the SEAI for the home insulation grants. I have tried to get grants for people to insulate their homes and I cannot get them but we hear the lovely aspirational announcements. The Government is not meeting the people halfway. It is not taking a reasonable position. It is an extreme and radical position in terms of embracing green policy without thinking about the impact it will have on people's lives. I ask for common sense and a bit of balance. Of course we want to do our best for the environment but there needs to be a sense of realism. The Minister should abandon the unrealistic radical policies he is trying to implement that are leading to hardship for people and job losses. Are people meant to sit around all day and look out their windows and plant trees? Is that what they are meant to do? The policies are leading to a lot of hardship for people and serious job losses. The Government needs to wake up.

I hope we get an opportunity later to speak on the substantive amendments that would make a difference in the midlands. I will not go over the carbon tax because we discussed it at length on Committee Stage. I have a specific question for the Minister. The bands used here are related to the bands for vehicle registration tax, VRT. There are 11 bands in place for VRT at present and with budget 2021 this is changing to 20 bands. On budget day we were promised that the Revenue Commissioners would publish the list of the new 20 VRT rates quite soon. That was two months ago. Those 20 bands have yet to be published and there is huge confusion. Will the Minister make available those 20 bands for VRT and have them published immediately to provide clarification on this?

I will not accept the amendment before the House, which has not been touched on in the debate. I am sure we will get to the issues raised on the carbon tax later in the afternoon. I want to inform Deputies that the amendment is on a different matter. We need to put it in context. The change in carbon tax to which we are referring is equivalent to an additional €1.50 on, for example, a 60 l tank of diesel. That is the sum change involved in it. I appreciate that for many people, that €1.50 and the carry through into the price of a bale of briquettes is something that can mean difficulty and hardship. I understand that. That is the very reason we have used the carbon tax to fund changes in social welfare allowances to support those who would be most affected by the increase in this tax. There is nothing radical or extreme about it.

We are recognising that we have a climate crisis on the way, on which I believe there is consensus in the House. We are looking to change the price of something which, when consumed, is one of the main reasons we have the level of harm being done to our environment that is being done. That is not radical. It is a responsible response to the great challenge we face. I am as aware as any Deputy who has spoken against the carbon tax of the hardship, difficulty and worry that is there regarding the effect of taxes such as this. This is the reason we have used one third of the money raised by the carbon tax to change those parts of our welfare payments that can help the most. That is why we have made this change.

With regard to the claims being made that this is an attack on rural Ireland, of course I understand the issues the Deputies are raising regarding the need for more support for rural Ireland but that is why we will be rolling out as quickly as possible a national broadband plan to connect more and more of our towns, villages and rural homes. I would have hoped we would have made quicker progress on it but it was disrupted by the pandemic. That progress will recommence next year. The very reason we have a national broadband plan is to put in place the investment in connectivity that can and will make a difference to the issues in rural Ireland that are being described.

The particular measure opposed in the section, which is on the introduction of the worldwide harmonised light-duty vehicles test procedure, WLTP, to which Deputy Naughten referred and on which he asked a specific question, brings in a way of testing the emissions of vehicles which is all about being more accurate and ensuring we can accurately measure the effect that vehicles and cars have on the environment. That is why this is being brought in. The old system we had did not do it. It was shown to be cheated upon. Now we are bringing in a new system that can accurately reflect and tax the effect of these vehicles on the environment.

With regard to Deputy Naughten's comment on the number of rates, during the debate I will get the answer to that question for him and in my next response to the Deputy I will inform him whether they have been published or, if they have not been published, when they will be published.

Question put and declared lost.

On a point of order, in fairness to the Deputies in Leinster House at committee meetings we are not calling a vote but that is the only reason we are not doing so and we want to register our strongest possible objections to this.

I thank the Deputy for his co-operation.

I move amendment No. 63:

In page 41, to delete lines 22 and 23 and substitute the following:

"(3) This section shall come into operation on such day as the Minister for Finance may appoint by order.".

To respond to the question Deputy Naughten raised with me earlier, the bands to which he referred are now published in section 32 of the Bill. The information is contained there.

Amendment No. 63 relates to the commencement of section 15 of the Bill. Section 15 updates Part 35A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 to provide for transfer pricing. In particular, section 15 updates the definition of a relevant person in section 835A and replaces section 835E, which provides for an exclusion from transfer pricing rules for certain domestic non-trading arrangements.

Following the publication of the Finance Bill, it became apparent that certain bona fide domestic non-trading arrangements were not specifically provided for within the exclusion. I brought forward a number of Committee Stage amendments to extend the exclusion to additional domestic non-trading arrangements providing relevant conditions were satisfied. It has since emerged that while amendments brought forward on Committee Stage will extend the exclusion in certain circumstances, there may be other circumstances that possibly should also be covered by the exclusion. The non-exclusion of certain bona fide domestic non-trading transactions may be problematic for certain Irish businesses that have intergroup arrangements and are subject to transfer pricing rules. The amendment will allow section 15 to be subject to a commencement order. This will allow the officials, in consultation with officials of the Revenue Commissioners, sufficient time to consider further, prior to commencing the legislation, the scope and application of section 15.

I am concerned about the amendment because, as we know, the section was to come into effect on 1 January 2021.

Section 15 amends Ireland's legislation on transfer pricing, Part 35A of the Taxes Consolidation Act, which was updated in the Finance Act 2019. The amendment was brought forward as it became apparent that the exclusion provided in section 835E may have been interpreted more broadly than was intended. I understand it was to ensure the exclusion operates as intended.

The Minister said there may be issues with it. The proposed draft amends the legislation to make clear that the exclusion relates specifically to certain arrangements only and not to any other activity undertaken. However, the amendment the Minister has brought forward on Report Stage proposes that it will be actioned or will come into force on a date that is set by the Minister. We know from experience that this means it may never come into effect, and there has been an ample number of examples down through the years where there is a permission that the Minister “may” bring something into effect.

Having listened to what the Minister has said, it appears it is more than just a question of the timing of when this section would come into effect and is also a question of the consequences or unintended consequences of this section coming into effect. There is an acknowledgement across the House that the section is required. However, what we are hearing now is that there may be consequences of bringing in the section. Instead of trying to fix that in a timely manner, the section might not be introduced at all or it might be introduced at a later stage. That is not a good situation and I ask the Minister to clarify this issue further.

I echo the sentiments of Deputy Doherty. I am concerned. We had a lengthy debate on Committee Stage in this regard. I was quite surprised at this amendment because I am concerned it could lead to this section not being implemented for a long time. When we had the discussion on Committee Stage, it was our understanding that it would come into effect on 1 January 2021. I have been concerned about the perceived weakness of this. Even with the enactment of the Bill, there could still be possible arbitrage opportunities in this regard. I would like the Minister to clarify this further. We have consensus that this needs to be enacted and I would be deeply concerned if this leads to it not being enacted.

It was raised on Committee Stage that this might be subject to a further amendment from me. I have made many changes in regard to transfer pricing in previous Finance Bills that I have brought in. What has happened here is that, since the Finance Bill was published and I indicated this change, I have received contact through the Revenue Commissioners from a number of Irish companies which expressed concern that this could have an effect on very legitimate structures they have within their companies. I am very happy, once I am clear on whether there is an issue, to provide Deputy Doherty with a note on this. It is not my intention to defer the implementation of this section indefinitely. I just want to ensure that if I do bring it in, it does not have an effect on Irish employment and Irish companies at a time of great pressure with other things going on. I am very happy, once I have received further information on this matter, to share this with Deputy Doherty.

Is the amendment agreed?

No. I would welcome the opportunity to have that information shared with us. We understand there is a need to bring in an amendment of the law with regard to this section, and it has been brought in. It now emerges there may be what I think I am right to classify as unintended consequences, and the Minister needs to clarify what those unintended consequences are. However, there is still a belief that the section needs to be brought in to deal with other matters. The problem in front of us is that we will only have two choices in the future, that is, to implement the section or not to implement the section, and that choice will be solely the Minister’s.

The Minister indicated this on Committee Stage, so obviously it was flagged to him that there are potential concerns. What should be done is that we should use the time before the Bill goes to the Seanad to address this issue and to deal with it by amending the section, if needs be, and then allowing for the amended section to come into effect. The problem is that, if the Minister is convinced, from the correspondence he has had, that there are consequences for what he calls "legitimate structures" in Irish companies, then the only choice he will have is not to commence it at all. Does that not leave a gap? That is my concern. Why can this not be further looked at by the Revenue Commissioners and the Minister’s officials before the Bill goes to the Seanad for scrutiny? Can this not be addressed in a timely manner? Otherwise, as we know, it is unlikely the Minister will address this between now and next year's Finance Bill.

I take the Deputy’s point. I am making an offer to the Deputy in good faith, which he can take up, that when I am clearer on whether there are genuine issues that could affect employment or the registration of companies in our country and how they are structured, I will share that with him. If there is an opportunity to make changes on this matter before it goes to the Seanad, that is something I will look at. The experience I have of transfer pricing shows me how deeply complicated it is. I became aware, just as I was commencing Committee Stage, that there were some issues being raised via the Revenue Commissioners that I simply need to understand further so I can judge whether action is needed in this area. When I am clear on that, I will be very happy to provide a briefing to Deputy Doherty and his team on this matter. If there is an opportunity to address some of the issues before it goes to the Seanad, I will do that as well.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 64:

In page 42, to delete lines 24 to 26 and substitute the following:

“(2) Subsection (1), other than paragraph (a), shall come into operation on such day as the Minister for Finance may appoint by order.”.

This amendment is in regard to the commencement provision in section 16(2), which allows the Minister, by order, to appoint when the section comes into effect.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 65:

In page 42, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:

“Acceleration of wear and tear allowances for farm safety equipment

17. (1) The Principal Act is amended—

(a) in Chapter 2 of Part 9, by inserting the following section after section 285C:

“Acceleration of wear and tear allowances for farm safety equipment

285D. (1) In this section—

‘eligible person’ means a person carrying on farming, the profits or gains of which are chargeable to tax in accordance with section 655;

‘farming’ has the same meaning as it has in Part 23, other than in section 664;

‘Minister’ means the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine;

‘qualifying certificate’ means a certificate issued under subsection (4);

‘qualifying equipment’ means equipment of a type specified in column (1) of the table in Part 2 of Schedule 35 meeting the description specified in column (2) of that table opposite the reference to that equipment type in column (1) thereof;

‘qualifying expenditure’, in relation to an item of qualifying equipment, means the amount which, in the reasonable opinion of the Minister, is an appropriate purchase price;

‘relevant tax’, in relation to an eligible person—

(a) where the eligible person is a company, means any corporation tax, and

(b) where the eligible person is not a company, means any contributions paid under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, income tax or universal social charge;

‘Rescuing and Restructuring Guidelines’ means the Communication of the Commission on Guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring non-financial undertakings in difficulty;

‘SME’ has the same meaning as it has in Commission Regulation (EU) No 702/2014 of 25 June 2014;

‘undertaking’ means the relevant economic unit that would be regarded as an undertaking for the purposes of the Rescuing and Restructuring Guidelines;

‘undertaking in difficulty’ shall be construed in accordance with section 2.2 of the Rescuing and Restructuring Guidelines.

(2) Where a person acquires qualifying equipment, the person may make an application to the Minister for a qualifying certificate in respect of the equipment.

(3) A person making an application to the Minister under subsection (2) shall use the form provided by the Minister for that purpose and shall include the following information in the application:

(a) in respect of each item of qualifying equipment to which the application relates—

(i) a description of the equipment, and

(ii) the purchase price of the equipment;

(b) the name and address of the applicant; and

(c) such other information, specified in the form provided by the Minister, as the Minister considers necessary and appropriate for the purposes of determining—

(i) whether a certificate should be issued under subsection (4), and

(ii) the qualifying expenditure in respect of an item of qualifying equipment.

(4) Where—

(a) a person makes an application to the Minister under subsection (2),

(b) the Minister is satisfied that the equipment concerned is qualifying equipment, and

(c) subsection (5) does not apply in respect of the equipment concerned,

the Minister shall issue a certificate to the person.

(5) This subsection shall apply in respect of qualifying equipment in respect of which an application is made under subsection (2) where the qualifying expenditure for that equipment exceeds an amount determined by the formula—

€5,000,000 – M

where—

M is an amount (which may be nil) equal to the aggregate qualifying expenditure, if any, exclusive of any amount of value-added tax, in respect of which—

(a) a qualifying certificate has been issued prior to the date on which the application was made, in the year in which the application was received, and

(b) a qualifying certificate would be issued, if an appeal of a decision, made prior to the date on which the application was made, in the year in which the application was received, was successful.

(6) A qualifying certificate shall include the following information:

(a) in respect of each item of qualifying equipment to which the certificate relates—

(i) a description, and

(ii) the qualifying expenditure;

(b) a unique, sequential certificate identification number assigned by the Minister;

(c) the name and address of the person to whom the certificate is issued; and

(d) such other information as the Minister or the Revenue Commissioners consider necessary and appropriate.

(7) The Minister shall provide the Revenue Commissioners, by 28 February each year, with the details of all qualifying certificates issued during the preceding year, including, in relation to each such certificate, the information specified in subsection (6).

(8) Where the Minister, following application in that behalf by a person under subsection (2), decides—

(a) not to issue a qualifying certificate, or

(b) to issue a qualifying certificate specifying, as the qualifying expenditure in respect of an item of qualifying equipment to which the certificate relates, an amount which is lower than the amount of the purchase price of the item of equipment specified in the application,

the Minister shall notify the person of that decision.

(9) A notification under subsection (8) shall—

(a) state the reasons for the decision, and

(b) inform the person that—

(i) the person may appeal the decision, by notice in writing (in this section referred to as a ‘notice of appeal’), to the appeals officer (within the meaning of section 667G) within 21 days of the date of the notification,

(ii) the notice of appeal shall specify the grounds for the appeal,

(iii) the decision shall be suspended until—

(I) the decision becomes final under subsection (12), or

(II) the disposal of the appeal under this section.

(10) A notice of appeal shall comply with subsection (9)(b)(i) and (ii) and shall be accompanied by such fee as may be determined by the Minister from time to time and published in such manner as the Minister considers appropriate, including on the internet.

(11) Where the Minister makes a decision referred to in subsection (8), the decision shall be suspended until—

(a) where subsection (12) applies, the decision becomes final under that subsection, or

(b) where subsection (12) does not apply, the disposal of the appeal of that decision under this section.

(12) If, on the expiration of the period of 21 days beginning on the date of a notification under subsection (8), no appeal under this section is made by the person notified under that subsection, the decision to which the notification relates is final.

(13) Subsections (5) to (10) of section 667G shall apply to an appeal under this section as they apply to an appeal under that section.

(14) Subject to subsections (15) and (16), where an eligible person—

(a) incurs, for the purpose of farming by that person, capital expenditure on qualifying equipment on or after 1 January 2021 and on or before 31 December 2023, and

(b) has been issued with a qualifying certificate in respect of that equipment,

then, for any chargeable period a wear and tear allowance is to be made under section 284 in respect of any qualifying expenditure specified in that qualifying certificate, subsection (2) of that section shall apply as if the reference in paragraph (ad) of that subsection to 12.5 per cent were a reference to 50 per cent.

(15) Subsection (14) shall not apply where the eligible person concerned—

(a) is an undertaking in difficulty,

(b) is part of an undertaking part of which is subject to an outstanding recovery order following a previous decision of the Commission of the European Union that declared an aid illegal and incompatible with the internal market, or

(c) is part of an undertaking that is not an SME.

(16) The aggregate amount of relief granted to a person under this section shall not exceed €500,000.

(17) This subsection applies to a person in respect of a chargeable period where the aggregate of the amount of the relief granted to the person in that chargeable period and in previous chargeable periods is greater than €60,000.

(18) Notwithstanding section 851A, where subsection (17) applies to a person in respect of a chargeable period, the Revenue Commissioners may disclose the following information in respect of the year in which the chargeable period ends:

(a) the name of the person;

(b) the sector of activity at NACE group level, within the meaning of Regulation (EC) No. 1893/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006, as amended by Regulation (EC) No. 295/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11

March 2008 and Regulation (EU) 2019/1243 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019;

(c) the territorial unit, within the meaning of the NUTS Level 2 classification specified in Annex 1 to Regulation (EC) No. 1059/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 as amended by Regulation (EC) No. 1888/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005, Commission Regulation (EC) No. 105/2007 of 1 February 2007, Regulation (EC) No. 176/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008, Regulation (EC) No. 1137/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008, Commission Regulation (EU) No. 31/2011 of 17 January 2011, Council Regulation (EU) No. 517/2013 of 13 May 2013, Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1319/2013 of 9 December 2013, Commission Regulation (EU) No. 868/2014 of 8 August 2014, Commission Regulation (EU) No. 2016/2066 of 21 November 2016, and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/1755 of 8 August 2019, in which the person is located; and (d) the year in which the relief is granted.

(19) For the purposes of subsections (16) and (17), the amount of relief granted to a person in a chargeable period shall be the amount determined by the formula—

R = A - B

where—

R is the amount of the relief granted to the person in the chargeable period,

A is the amount of relevant tax that would be payable by the eligible person for the chargeable period, but for subsection (14), and

B is the amount of relevant tax payable by the eligible person for that chargeable period.”,

(b) in section 667F(1), by substituting “for the purposes of appeals under sections 285D and 667G” for “for the purposes of an appeal under section 667G”, and

(c) by inserting the following Schedule after Schedule 34:

“SCHEDULE 35

Section 285D

PART 1

DEFINITIONS

In this Schedule—

‘farm vehicle’ means an agricultural tractor, agricultural self-propelled machine, all-terrain vehicle or utility terrain vehicle;

‘machinery Directive’ means Directive 2006/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on machinery, and amending Directive 95/16/EC (recast).

PART 2

QUALIFYING EQUIPMENT REFERRED TO IN SECTION 285D

Equipment type

(1)

Description

(2)

Hydraulic linkage arms mounted tractor jacking systems.

An agricultural tractor jacking system that uses either the rear or front mounted lower linkage arms to enable an agricultural tractor to be lifted so that one or more wheels may be replaced on the agricultural tractor. The jacking system shall bear CE marking in accordance with Article 16 of the machinery Directive and be in conformity with the requirements of that Directive.

Big bag (equal to or greater than 500kg) lifter, with or without integral bag cutting system.

Lifting system for bags of fertiliser or seed of 500kg mass or greater. The system shall be mounted on either the three-point linkage of an agricultural tractor, front loader of an agricultural tractor or mounted on a fertiliser or seed drill. The lifter shall be capable of securely holding the bag and raising the bag over a fertilizer spreader or seed drill. The system may have an integral system for automatically opening the bag. The lifting system shall bear CE marking in accordance with Article 16 of the machinery Directive and be in conformity with the requirements of that Directive.

Chemical Storage cabinets.

A storage cabinet fitted with a locking device and integral bund for the storage of pesticides and other chemicals. The cabinet may be made of metal or hard plastic, or a combination of both. The cabinet shall be suitably vented to prevent a build-up of fumes.

Animal anti-backing gate for use in cattle crush or race.

Device to be mounted on the side of a cattle crush or cattle crush race to prevent an animal from reversing along the cattle crush or cattle crush race. The device shall allow an animal to pass up along the cattle crush or cattle crush race and shall be either automatically or manually moved into position once an animal has passed.

Quick hitch mechanism for rear and front three-point linkage to enable hitching of implements without need to descend from tractor.

A one-part or two-part system to enable the hitching of implements to an agricultural tractor three-point linkage without having to descend from the agricultural tractor. The system shall be connected to the three-point hydraulic linkage of the agricultural tractor and enable the agricultural tractor to link to an implement. The system shall bear CE marking in accordance with Article 16 of the machinery Directive and be in conformity with the requirements of that Directive.

Provision of access lift, hoist or integrated ramp to farm vehicle, including modified entry when required.

Provision of an integrated ramp, lift or hoist to facilitate access to a farm vehicle by a disabled person. The system may incorporate a modified side or rear entry to enable access. The lift or hoist system shall bear CE marking in accordance with Article 16 of the machinery Directive and be in conformity with the requirements of that Directive.

Wheelchair restraints.

Provision of wheelchair restraints within a farm vehicle.

Wheelchair docking station.

Provision of wheelchair docking station within a farm vehicle.

Modified controls to enable full hand operation of a farm vehicle.

Extensive reconfiguration of primary controls necessary to enable a farm vehicle to be driven and operated by a disabled person.

Modified seating to enable operation of a farm vehicle.

Provision of an extensively modified seat to enable operation of a farm vehicle by a disabled person.

Additional steps to farm vehicle or machinery to provide easier access.

Additional steps to farm vehicle or machinery to provide easier access. The additional steps shall bear CE marking in accordance with Article 16 of the machinery Directive and be in conformity with the requirements of that Directive.

Modified farm vehicle or machinery controls to enable control by hand or foot.

Extensive reconfiguration of controls necessary to enable a farm vehicle or farm machinery to be operated by a disabled person.

Hydraulically located lower three-point linkage arms.

Provision of a hydraulic system to control the location of the lower three-point linkage arms of a farm vehicle.

.”.

(2) Subsection (1) shall come into operation on such day as the Minister for Finance may appoint by order.”.

This is a significant amendment in the context of an issue that has been raised with me by the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, which is the issue of farm safety. Farm safety is an issue that has been prioritised by the Government and by my colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, and the Minister of State, Deputy Hackett. This is recognised in the programme for Government.

A large proportion of all fatal workplace accidents, unfortunately, some 50%, occur in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector. Of the 46 deaths in 2019, 18 were in the sector, which is disproportionate to the share of the workforce employed in the sector, which is 7%. Between 2010 and 2019, there were 214 fatal accidents on farms. Of these, 65 involved a farm vehicle, 39 involved machinery and 39 involved livestock. These three areas accounted for 67% of all fatal accidents on farms.

In an effort to tackle this, I am bringing forward a change to capital allowances treatment of certain farm safety equipment and adaptive equipment for farmers with disabilities. Currently, capital allowances are available at 12.5% per annum over eight years for agricultural equipment generally. I propose accelerated capital allowances of 50% per annum over two years for eligible equipment.

This eligible equipment is listed in the amendment. Any future changes or additions to the list will have to be by way of primary legislation.

The introduction of an accelerated capital allowance scheme is aimed at incentivising the purchase of farm safety equipment and the replacement of equipment that may be old or substandard. The measure is also designed to assist farmers who have a disability to continue work, with certain adaptive equipment also eligible for the scheme. It will be administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and be subject to a scheme total equipment cost of €5 million per annum. This would amount to an upfront estimated tax expenditure cost of €1.5 million per annum. As the scheme will allow for an acceleration of capital allowances for the equipment such that they can be claimed over two instead of eight years, I believe the net cost over eight years would be neutral.

For the purposes of ensuring the scheme remains within its cost parameters, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will issue a farm safety-adaption accelerated capital allowance certificate for submission to Revenue in support of such claims. The issuing of this certificate will not imply entitlement to the accelerated capital allowance. It will be the responsibility of all claimants to familiarise themselves with the relevant provisions of the tax code, including, but not limited to, eligibility conditions.

The Report Stage amendment underlines the priority afforded to the issue of farm safety in the Government programme and reflects a commitment to make further progress soon. The aim is to get a scheme in place, and the measure will be kept under review in 2021. As with all such measures, the scheme will be reviewed periodically and it will be subject to a three-year sunset clause to the end of 2023.

I will begin by thanking the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and his officials in the Department of Finance for their work and co-operation on this very important measure, which has been a goal of mine since my appointment as Minister of State with special responsibility for farm safety. This is one of a range of measures I have wanted to introduce. The purpose of it is twofold, as the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, outlined but an accelerated capital allowance will incentivise the investment in farm safety measures.

In my dealings with many victims of life-changing injuries as a result of farm safety incidents, as well as with families who have lost loved ones, it has been very evident that more needs to be done for those whose lives have been changed by incidents that have happened on farms. In that regard, this accelerated capital allowance is an important step in that direction. For somebody who loses a limb, becomes wheelchair bound or suffers significant injury, not only is their life changed irreparably but, as self-employed farmers, their income stream is also taken away. Their ability to be able to continue to work is greatly diminished unless they can modify the way they operate, modify the machinery and all the rest. This accelerated capital allowance allows them to make that significant investment, which is as important for their mental health in terms of being able to continue to work as well as their physical well-being and income streams.

In that regard, the measures in this accelerated capital allowance to cover equipment such as access lifts, hoists, integrated ramps for farm vehicles, including modified entry, where required, wheelchair restraints and docking stations are all a very important step, as are modified controls to enable full hand operation instead of the use of foot pedals where there has been the loss of a limb, as well as modified seating, modified machinery constraints, quick hitches on the front and the back of tractors and machinery and modified elements of machinery. These are the type of investments that somebody who suffers a very significant injury has not been able to make in the past because of the level of cost involved. This accelerated capital allowance will allow them recoup the 100% cost of that over the first two years of its expenditure.

On the other hand are the other enhanced safety measures that will encourage farmers to invest in elements that will make our farms safer and avoid more injuries in the future. As the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, outlined, agricultural vehicles and machinery have been the biggest cause of farm safety incidents followed closely by incidents involving livestock. Anti-backing gates for crushes are a very important investment. We need to incentivise farmers to understand that this investment will make a very big difference because in the likes of beef farming in particular, where margins are tight, prioritising that type of investment is key, as well as measures such as chemical stores, big bag lifters for half tonne bags of fertiliser and so on and quick hitch mechanisms. Those are measures that are not covered by targeted agricultural modernisation schemes, TAMS, so that support has not been available to date.

This is very much in keeping with the Government's commitment to reducing farm safety incidents, injury and deaths. The programme for Government sets out a clear ambition in that regard. My appointment as the first Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety is a key indication of the programme for Government. I am delighted to be able to work closely with my ministerial colleagues, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and the Department of Finance in that regard. I again acknowledge the work of my officials in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine who have done much work on this also in engaging with the Department of Finance on these measures. It is one of a range of farm safety measures we are looking to introduce across a host of areas to make our farms safer and drive down the unacceptably high level of farm deaths and farm safety incidents that occur.

This week we launched an innovation partnership scheme, an EIP model, for which I secured €1 million in the budget, which is a locally-led farm safety initiative. It is a call for ideas from the ground up that can be funded now by my Department, which hopefully could feed into a new Common Agricultural Policy, CAP. I want to see farm safety as an integral part of a new CAP. This EIP was launched this week and the call that will be open until 29 January is an opportunity for farmers, community groups, voluntary organisations, farm organisations and the rest to come together and put forward their ideas. We will evaluate them and fund the best of them that have the ability to be scaled up. The EIP model has been successful in many other areas and one I am very excited about using in the area of farm safety.

We also secured €14 million for our training budget that will train up to 50,000 farmers in the area of farmer health and well-being. That will be rolled out throughout 2021. The train the trainer programme, On Firm Ground, where we take farm advisers and advise them on how best to deal with the farmers they deal with on a daily basis, is another element to that.

I want to acknowledge my work with the Minister of State, Deputy English, regarding our restructuring of the farm safety partnership as part of the Health and Safety Authority, HSA. I also have ambitions to develop a dedicated Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine farm safety strategy that will roll that out.

I acknowledge again the role of the Department of Finance. I hope this accelerated capital allowance will be welcomed and supported by Members of the House. I outlined the other measures because the accelerated capital allowance alone is not a panacea but it is a very important step in a range of measures we are taking to make our farms safer, drive down the number of farm safety incidents and the unacceptably high level of fatalities and significant injuries we are seeing on farms across the country.

I thank the Minister of State and congratulate him.

I too want to support this amendment wholeheartedly. I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, and compliment him on his appointment and on this initiative, which he understands because he is a farmer. I am glad the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, embraced it and made efforts in terms of faster tax rebates and relief because the number of incidents and accidents on farms that result in loss of life and loss of limb is shocking and they bring trauma to wives, husbands and families as well as the entire farming community. In the past, farms were full family enterprises. They have become very lonely places but not any less dangerous. They are probably more dangerous because of the size of the tractors and other equipment. All the measures the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, outlined for people who have had accidents are very important. He referred to quick hitches, hand levers, front and rear pick-ups and so on but they will not deal with the problem of the size of the tractors. Farmers will not see anything coming in their direction because they are ginormous. Unfortunately, that is the way farming has gone in terms of everything being so big.

I welcome the provisions in the Bill and will support the amendment. I salute everyone involved in farm safety. A great scheme was set up by two ladies, the name of which will not come to me but the Minister of State might be able to help me. They had a video on farm safety and went around visiting national schools. It has stopped now because of the Covid-19 pandemic but it was a wonderful scheme. They gave a talk and showed the video on the inherent risks and dangers on farms.

We all see children on tractors and it is frightening. There is always potential for accidents. Farms are now a lonely place. There is normally only one farmer and he will not even see the milkman because they come at three or four in the morning. That is how it is with Glanbia and the creamery. This all leads to the conversation about the loss of local pubs, shops and post offices. It is lonesome.

I ask the Ceann Comhairle to allow me to bring up the issue of farm inspections. They are happening in the middle of Covid. Farmers need support for mental health. They cannot get staff because the staff are sick. There is a farmer in south Tipperary with more than 10,000 sheep. There is an ongoing battle, although it should not be a battle because he wants to work with inspectors, but they are coming to inspect the sheep. Why can they not use drones or other forms of technology? If there is animal cruelty that has to be eradicated - I am all for that. He has a shepherd who has died and another who is sick. Now a member of his family is sick from the trauma and stress. The days are too short now with fog and rain to try to get sheep off the sides of mountains with sheepdogs. It is nigh impossible.

Inspections should be postponed until February or the spring unless there is clear suspicion that there are animal welfare issues, and surely we can examine that with technology. I thought there was an EU directive that minimal numbers of farm inspections should be happening. The Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, might be able to clarify that. I have spoken to the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, and to officials in the Department veterinary office in Tipperary. It is causing significant pressure and stress. Farmers need support in these trying times, since they cannot get staff and are dealing with the weather, prices, Covid and lack of people around them on the hillsides of Tipperary and east Cork, including the Galtee Mountains, the Knockmealdown Mountains, and the famed Slievenamon. Farmers want to work and have complied. We need engagement and training.

I welcome all the changes raised. I welcome the community aspect too. I ask the Minister of State to have common sense and to postpone these inspections until the spring, when the days are longer, the weather is better and farmers will have some help again. It is a lonely occupation and they cannot get staff to do that work. They have to have trained shepherds to go out and round up sheep with sheepdogs, mind them and get them in for inspection. Unless there is a desperate, grave need, I appeal for these inspections to stop. Instead, Department veterinary office inspectors should be asked to visit farmers, do it online or telephone them to support them and ask them what problems they have. They have many problems with bills to pay at this time of year, poor prices, Brexit worrying them and so on. We do not need over-regulation and intimidation. We should support these farmers, many of whom are on their own. It is lonely. I wholeheartedly support the amendment and the change regarding farm safety has to be welcomed.

I welcome this initiative and thank the Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon. It is timely and welcome. It hope it will have a positive impact on many farms across the country. I ask the Minister of State if he will do two things for me regarding the work he has done for the Minister for Finance. Will he chat with the Ministers for Finance and Health about some of the 1,500 people with missing limbs who are on the waiting list for the disabled drivers' scheme and are waiting for the primary medical certificate? It will be some time next year before those farmers and non-farmers get an appointment for that assessment, because of a suspension last June, and another 150 people a month are being added to that, including farmers because of farm accidents. The Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, might use his influence to put the squeeze on the two Ministers about that issue. He can facilitate that by supporting amendment No. 82 when we come to it later.

I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, to have a word with the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, ComReg and the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform about the roll-out of 5G across the country. Farmers work on their own in isolated areas and having access to mobile phone coverage is vitally important. Sadly, every mobile phone licence that was issued in this country to date has been issued solely on the basis of population coverage rather than geographic coverage, which means that farmers who are working out on their land on their own have no way of communicating with someone else to get the services and support that they need if they have an accident. I ask the Minister to engage with ComReg and the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to ensure that the next round of 5G licences is issued on a geographic basis and provides universal geographic coverage across the country so that when farmers find themselves in a predicament where their lives or health are at risk, they are in a position where they can contact someone or the emergency services.

Coming from a rural constituency, I also welcome the measures being put in place by this section. Many accidents happen so it is important that every machine is equipped properly. The fact that we are going to support it by having accelerated tax incentives is a good bonus. We have many people involved in farming who have had accidents. I want to recognise here and put on the record the work of an organisation called Embrace, which educates farmers through the fact that its members lost limbs or were seriously injured in accidents and were lucky enough to survive. Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is important that we recognise that the number of accidents that are happening is frightening. There have been a number of cases in my constituency, including one this year, which involved a person who was alone. Having proper telephone communication for farmers when they are working in isolation is important.

I commend the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, and the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, for the work that has gone into this. It is the first step in a direction that we have to take. As I am a member of the Joint Committee on Disability Matters, I think we would welcome this as something that will be positive. I would like to see it implemented as soon as possible with the least amount of paperwork attached so that people can avail of it as quickly as possible.

Like other speakers, I welcome this important provision in the Finance Bill and congratulate the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, for the work that they put into it. It is long overdue and, as other speakers have pointed out, there is still more to be done, especially the updates to machinery that are simple to apply and do not take even a day to be fitted to be made workable. One or two things come to mind, such as some of the power take-off, PTO, shaft covers that are still operational which are very difficult to put in place, especially if one person is doing it, which are vital to the safety and maintenance of the machine.

I also refer to the difficulty with animals. Animals with which the owner is familiar may well be easy and safe to deal with in ordinary circumstances, but circumstances sometimes change, and with that the animal's attitude may change too. Without delaying the House, I ask that an awareness campaign be mounted alongside the legislation to ensure that farmers, as other speakers have said, can readily recognise the dangers of working alone and the need to make provision for modern communications in the event of an accident. We have all heard and dealt with various horrific accidents over the years that have cost the owner of the farm or the person running it a significant amount, through disability and reduction of output, and have made them dependent on others.

I congratulate all involved in this particular provision. It is well worth doing and was in need of doing for some considerable time. I hope it will be taken on board by everybody operating machinery and dealing with animals, including those who may find themselves confronted by a stray animal or by an animal on land during hunting time, or whatever the case may be. All animals are unpredictable and need to be treated as such.

I thank Deputy Durkan. I take it that this is an amendment we can agree by acclaim. As Deputy Canney has said, it is very appropriate that we would do so on the International Day of People with Disabilities. I congratulate all involved.

I would like to follow up on the points made by Deputy Canney on this International Day of People with Disabilities. I am sure the Ceann Comhairle will join me in supporting the County Kildare Access Network's light up Kildare purple week. That is what I am doing with this mask here today. The proposal before the House with regard to the accelerated capital allowance addresses the issues of those who have suffered disablement from farm accidents. It is very much an acknowledgement of them. On the last point made by Deputy Durkan, the measures covered in this amendment include PTO covers and a quick-hitch mechanism for rear and front three-point linkage to enable the hitching of implements without needing to descend the tractor, thereby taking that risk element out of it. Some of the measures covered in this list of accelerated capital allowances are preventative ones and some are for those who have suffered injury in the past.

I acknowledge the support of the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, in the establishment of this important list. As the first Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety, I do not think this list will ever go away. It might be amended in time, but now we have established the principle of farm safety being an integral part of this budget and every budget that is brought forward.

Deputy Mattie McGrath mentioned a video that was done. We have seen many bad videos on farm safety. I commend the students of Nenagh CBS, led by their teacher Paul Butler, for their excellent TikTok video. The video in question, "Open Your Eyes To Farm Safety", has received the backing of Embrace FARM and others for its really positive approach. The students in Nenagh have done great work on the positive promotion of farm safety elements.

I take on board Deputy Naughten's views on the delays that exist. We want to see these measures developed further because we need to support people who are left behind following the loss of limbs, etc. I do not want to see anybody left behind, particularly from my perspective on the farm safety side. We want to assist people in getting their lives back on track. We also want to stop these accidents happening in the future. We want to see fewer people on Irish farms suffering such injuries. I also take on board the Deputy’s point about the importance of 5G coverage. On the broadband side, we have the national broadband plan to roll these services out. 5G and mobile coverage is very important for farmers in isolated areas. The farm advisers who go into farms to deal with farmers on a daily basis, and are very trusted on farms, can signpost supports to farmers who may be suffering as a result of isolation. Such supports are now on firm ground. I have taken on this initiative with my colleague in the Department of Health, the Minister of State, Deputy Feighan. It is being jointly funded with my Department.

On Deputy Durkan’s point about an awareness campaign, I agree that these measures are only as good as the awareness of them. I intend to make myself available across all local media and beyond over the coming weeks to promote the use of these measures as well as the roll-out of the open call for innovation partnership. We want to see many applications for that scheme from community groups around the country.

The Minister of State has proven himself very adept in the past in the making of videos and no doubt he will do so again.

This amendment is accepted with acclaim. I asked about farm inspections. I am not anti-inspections, but we cannot have inspectors upsetting people.

I believe this-----

I am not talking about the Plains of Kildare, which the Ceann Comhairle and other Deputies are familiar with, but about the slopes of the Knockmealdown Mountains, the Comeragh Mountains, Slievenamon and other places where mountain and hill sheep can be found.

The Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, will engage with the Deputy on that point afterwards because it is not appropriate to this amendment. Is the amendment agreed? Does the Minister wish to come in on it?

I want to address some of the tax elements of this amendment. I was very pleased to work with the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, to bring forward this amendment. I want to emphasise two points on it. First, this is as much a preventative measure as it is about trying to support those who have already suffered great disability due to terrible accidents on farms. We worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to try to come up with an amendment that would be able to do both.

Second, the list in section 35, in Part 2 of the Bill, is important because we are looking to put together a list of various forms of equipment that can help those who have suffered and help others to avoid the accidents that can cause such suffering. I hope the clarity we are providing in the amendment will make it easy for Revenue to be able to implement this measure. I thank Revenue for its co-operation in this regard. I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will be successful in raising awareness of this change in law.

I congratulate the Minister again.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 66 is out of order.

Amendment No. 66 not moved.

I move amendment No. 67:

In page 45, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"Report on restoring cap on intangible assets

22. The Minister shall, within six months of the passing of this Act, prepare and lay before Dáil Éireann a report on restoring the 80 per cent cap on intangible assets onshored

between 2015 and 2017 that can be written off against profits at the rate of 100 per cent.".

I have raised this matter time and time again with the Minister. I am looking for a report, which is a mechanism the Opposition can use to propose amendments that will not be ruled out of order. In this case, the proposal relates to the restoration of the 80% cap on intangible assets that were onshored between 2015 and 2017 and that can be written off against profits at a rate of 100%. The amendment seeks a report on the implementation of an 80% cap on capital allowances that can be offset against profits accruing from intellectual property. This arises from recommendation No. 18 of Seamus Coffey's review of Ireland’s corporation tax code, which was commissioned by the Department of Finance:

In order to ensure some smoothing of corporation tax revenues over time, it is recommended that the limitation on the quantum of relevant income against which capital allowances for intangible assets and any related interest expense may be deducted in a tax year be reduced to 80%.

This policy was endorsed by Professor Stephen Kinsella, who is an associate professor of economics at the University of Limerick, in January 2020:

Sinn Féin have correctly identified that intangible assets are a key resource for the Irish economy in the 21st century. I argued for a rethinking of Ireland’s relationship with intangible assets some weeks ago, but more importantly, so did the Fiscal Council’s Seamus Coffey. Sinn Féin want to tax these intangible assets properly. Introducing an 80% cap on profits in intangible assets, particularly those on-shored between 2015 and 2018 by multinationals. This is an excellent idea that will result in some capital flight from the country, no doubt, but which will fund the Exchequer handsomely and help offset the inevitable loss of tax revenue from the introduction of new OECD rules on digital taxes.

We know that capital allowances for intangible assets are claimed under section 29(1)(a) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. This section provides for the offsetting of capital allowances on the development or acquisition of a range of intangible assets against the income arising from the use of that intangible asset. Ireland’s national accounts have been impacted by a number of intangible on-shoring events in recent years, with profits generated by these intangible assets now included in gross measures of Ireland’s national income. Most notably of all, there was an increase in the stock of intangible assets in Ireland of approximately €250 billion in the first quarter of 2015, while the fourth quarter of the national accounts for 2016 showed investment in the acquisition of intangible assets of approximately €25 billion.

What we see here is a great onshoring of intangible assets. A change that was subsequently made in a Finance Bill a number of years ago does not capture intangible assets that were onshored in the period from 2015 to 2018, which is the crucial relevant period. As I have said, approximately €250 billion of intangible assets were onshored in one quarter of 2015.

This is an issue of fairness. It is also an issue of timing but it is more than that. Mr. Seamus Coffey elaborated on it in one of his blogs. There is a risk that by the time the tax is due - if a company has used up all its allowances such that the full tax is payable and intangible assets may not be written off against profits at a rate of 100% - the company may have restructured or, indeed, international taxation arrangements may have changed. Therefore, it is important that only 80% can be offset against the relevant profits in any given year, as opposed to the 100%, which rate is applicable only to the assets onshored during the relevant period. Obviously, if intangibles are onshored after that period, they would be subject to the 80% rate.

This is not an insignificant measure. Yesterday, the Minister for Finance lectured me on paying for public services and all the rest of it but this measure is the biggest example of how revenue can be generated at this time. A measure of this nature, proposed by the former chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council and the author of the key report on taxation commissioned by the Department of Finance, would yield in excess of €700 million in 2021. It is not insignificant. It is a very serious measure and it is worthy of consideration.

I have raised this proposal with the Minister for Finance on a number of occasions but he has obviously refused to accept it. People will draw their own conclusions. We have had reputational damage regarding this matter because it is all connected to some of the Panama leaks and various restructurings. When one door was closed to companies, they exploited the loophole under discussion. Based on all the responses to freedom of information requests I have received, nobody has ever argued for an increase of the rate to 100%. Based on all the documents I have got from the Department of Finance and from external sources who argued the rate should be increased from 80%, some of whom argued it should be increased to 90%, I have never been able to understand why the former Minister for Finance, Mr. Michael Noonan, increased it to 100%. The rate was reduced again to 80%, which is the appropriate rate. I believe the current Minister reduced it, but, crucially, when he did so, he left a gaping hole. In other words, the arrangement does not apply to onshored intangibles in the category I have mentioned.

The Minister has not argued recently that my proposal would amount to retrospective taxation because I believe that argument has been debunked, including by Mr. Seamus Coffey at the Oireachtas committee. It is nothing like retrospective taxation. We are not suggesting that additional taxes be imposed on companies that offset against profits in years gone by at the rate of 100%. What we are saying is that for 2021, 2022 and years thereafter, companies would not be allowed to offset at a rate of 100% when calculating taxable profits. Only the rate of 80% would apply.

I was not lecturing the Deputy yesterday. We were engaged in a debate. Each of us was making political points on an important section of the Finance Bill. It was not a lecture.

With regard to the amendment, the costs of assets used to generate taxable trading profits are recognised as legitimate business expenses. While these costs are not fully tax-deductible in the year they are incurred, tax relief is available through capital allowances that spread the cost of the asset over a number of years. This gives a fairer reflection of the performance of the business for accounting and tax purposes, which is why capital allowances are a well-established feature of most OECD tax codes.

By the early to mid-2000s, it was clear that the development and exploitation of intangible assets had become a significant driver of economic growth in OECD economies, some of which had introduced specific tax schemes to address the particular features of these assets. Therefore, the Finance Act 2009 introduced capital allowances for certain intangible assets that a company manages, develops or exploits. These intellectual property allowances encourage substantive activity and high-quality employment in the management and exploitation of intangible assets, such as patents, trademarks, know-how, customer lists and research rights.

The success of our approach to encouraging genuine substantive investment is clear from Revenue analysis that shows that claimants of intellectual property allowances accounted for 24% of net corporate tax payments in 2019. In addition to corporation tax, claimants of intellectual property allowances are making a significant contribution to the Exchequer in the form of payroll tax receipts. When intellectual property allowances were introduced, the maximum deduction available for such allowances and related interest was restricted to 80% of income from the relevant trade. No such cap applies to other capital allowances so the cap was removed in the Finance Act 2014 to bring the tax treatment of intangible assets into line with the tax treatment of other assets and similar assets in other jurisdictions. The 80% cap was reintroduced in budget 2018. It was in response to a recommendation in the Coffey report with the aim of smoothing corporate tax receipts and helping to support their sustainability.

As the Deputy is well aware, changes to tax law are generally made on a prospective basis such that they apply only from the date on which they have legal effect. The cap does not affect the overall quantum of relief; it merely extends the period over which intellectual property allowances are used, with any restricted amounts carried forward for use in later periods, subject to the 80% cap in those periods. It is relevant to note IDA Ireland's assessment that Ireland offers a strong and growing research, development and innovation environment and its finding that one third of multinationals in Ireland have had operations here for more than 20 years. These companies have long-established and deep-rooted links to the Irish economy, which are supported by our stable and transparent approach to corporate tax policy. Having regard to the volume of discussion on record with regard to this issue, I do not believe a report would add further value. What I have sought to do in finance Bills in this area was make the changes I believe are important to ensure our tax code is in line with the kinds of standards needed in Europe and across the world. I have also sought to make the changes in such a way as to strike the right balance between competitiveness and certainty in our tax code. The change I made in the relevant Finance Bill and in budget 2018 got that balance right. Even since then, we have seen continued growth in corporate tax receipts, which shows that the foreign direct investment in our economy and companies that have been located here for so long continue to be so important from employment and income points of view. It is a question of making changes that bring our method of taxing intellectual property into line with standards in this regard across the world. Also, it is appropriate that we do so in a way that continues to respect the fact that stability within our tax code is important. That is what I have sought to do in making changes in this area and others, and I do not believe a further report is merited.

We have had this debate for a number of years now. Others, including professors of economics and the former chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, have added their weight to the debate. The Minister blatantly refuses to do as proposed. One could refer to the existing arrangement as a loophole, but loopholes are not supposed to be designed. The arrangement is deliberately designed. We are aware it exists in our tax law. It benefits one company, in particular. It allows it to reduce its tax liability by millions of euro, or possibly hundreds of millions of euro. The benefit of the change would be that it would yield more than €700 million per year.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 50; Níl, 71; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Denise Mitchell and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn; Níl, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 68:

In page 45, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“22. Within three months of the passing of this Act, the Minister shall produce a report on the extent to which producer companies in receipt of section 481 tax relief are complying with requirements to provide quality employment and training, with employment legislation, taking direct responsibility for their employees and trainees and acknowledging the service of employees who have worked for them over many years and in productions similarly financed through section 481 relief.”.

This amendment is on an issue we have debated on a number of occasions. I have to acknowledge, as I have many times, that the Minister has genuinely engaged, been helpful and brought in significant reforms around tax relief given to the Irish film industry through section 481. Despite-----

Just a moment. We will get a little silence.

Can we stop the clock?

Absolutely. Can we have a little co-operation? I thank Ministers and Deputies.

This amendment concerns the approximately €80 million in tax relief that is given to film producers every year under section 481. It is a considerable relief to support the development of the film industry. However, as the Minister knows, the specific condition attaching to this relief is that, in order to access the relief, the film producers must provide quality employment and training and must comply with all relevant legislation on workers' rights. They must also take responsibility for their employees and trainees.

My amendment is asking for the Government to investigate with a review, to be done in a very short time, as to whether that is happening. I have also added a particular reference to the question of acknowledgement of service of employees who have worked for those same film producers over many years.

That acknowledgement is required under fixed-term workers contract law. Despite the Minister's efforts and mine, and despite the declaration forms that film production companies are supposed to fill in and in which they must solemnly commit to give quality employment, take responsibility for employees and comply with all employment law, they are brazenly flouting that law, refusing to acknowledge the legal rights of their employees and blacklisting out of the industry those who attempt to assert their rights. They have already blacklisted a significant cohort of people. They are signing the declaration, which is the condition for getting the relief, and committing to the requirements, but they then walk into the Labour Court and the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, to state publicly that they are doing none of that.

All the Minister has to do to establish that the relief is being abused, the law is being broken and rights are being denied is cross-check the declarations given by these producer companies with the statements they are making in the Labour Court and the WRC when the workers engaging in their film productions, which are supported by public money, attempt to assert their rights. Workers recently attempted to assert their rights around the issue of collective agreements made with film producer companies.

I will provide evidence to back up what I am saying. A letter went to the Minister this morning from representatives of the workers. Its two pages briefly summarise the situation and I appeal to the Minister to read it carefully. I will cite a submission to the Labour Court, dated 19 September, from a film producer company that has got a great deal of money for many years. Workers engaged in the company's productions took a case over a breach of a collective agreement. According to the producer, which signed the Minister's declaration, the claims were raised on behalf of a number of individuals who were previously engaged on productions associated with the respondent, that being, the producer. The producer stated that neither this nor any of the other complainants were its employees. It accepted that they were associated with and employed on productions funded with section 481 reliefs, but in an Orwellian twist, it claimed they were not its employees. It went on to say that workers such as the complainant were engaged by designated activity companies, DACs, which were set up specifically for each production if and when commissioned, that there were no employment contracts with the respondent and that any employment relationship existed between the employee and the specific DAC. It claimed that, as such, each DAC was the employer and there was no continuity of service where an individual was employed by different DACs. The worker in this case had worked for that film producer, who gets money from the State on the basis of complying with the fixed-term workers Act, for ten years. This is a flagrant breach of the declaration.

On 6 October, the CEO of Screen Producers Ireland gave evidence in the Labour Court in a case involving another producer. She stated that she would give evidence before the court that there was no possible basis, having regard to the realities of the sector, on which a relationship of employment could be said to have existed between the parties, those being the employees who worked on the film production and the film producer, which got the section 481 relief on the specific requirement that it be the employer and acknowledge all the rights of the employees. This could not be more blatant.

The Minister has published a declaration that commendably requires producers to give commitments. They sign the declaration, take the money from him and then publicly go to a State body and say none of these legislative measures apply to them because they do not provide employment to anyone and they do not have employees at all. The next day, they return to the Minister and tell him to give them some money because they will provide employment. The Minister cannot let this stand. Will he investigate these cases seriously and withdraw section 481 relief from companies that are abusing him and the taxpayer?

I acknowledge the work the Deputy has done on this matter, which he has raised in our debates on several Finance Bills. As he acknowledged, I made changes on foot of that.

We debated this issue on Committee Stage. I will not repeat the arguments because the Deputy knows what they are and he knows that I take this matter seriously. As I indicated to him in the previous debate, it is my view that the conditions must be met, not just by a producer company, but by the DAC formed for the production of a film. If a producer does not comply with the employment and skills development requirements set out by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, it may not be eligible for the corporate tax credit and any amount already claimed may be recoverable, with interest.

The auditing of many of these issues in the context of employment rights legislation is a matter for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. I am awaiting the outcome of a process that is under way at the WRC. I hope that there will be agreement later this year on a framework approach to these matters in the sector. It will be an important step forward in dealing with the issue that Deputy Boyd Barrett and I have debated for the past number of Finance Bills. My departmental officials are following the process in the WRC. We hope that it will yield a successful conclusion. We will then use a framework that may emerge from it as another way in which the various issues that we are debating can be monitored.

If further action is needed, I will take it because I take this matter seriously. I will read the letter that the Deputy mentioned. I have not seen it yet because it only seems to have been issued to me today. The next step for me in trying to reach an overall agreement on issues within the sector will be the process at the WRC. If that process yields an agreement, which I hope it will, it will be a further way in which the issues we are debating can be addressed.

I welcome the Minister's engagement and the commitments he just made. I have given him some new information, which I hope he will follow up. The letter, which he would have got today, elaborates on that.

There is Orwellian, Janus-faced double-speak coming from the producers that are getting the relief. In order to get the money, they are telling the Minister that they will do certain things. They are not just quietly not doing them and breaking their commitments, though. Rather, they are breaking them publicly. Their representative from Screen Producers Ireland has given witness evidence in court against workers to the effect that the recipients of section 481 relief could never be anyone's employer. This is a serious abuse. The same producer companies are getting the relief year after year.

The consequences for the workers are serious. If the continuity of service provided by someone whom the respondent agreed had been working on productions associated with it for ten years did not make the producer the employer, it means the employee's pension rights are messed up.

The Unfair Dismissals Act does not apply to them. Rights they have by law simply disappear because a producer who gets the relief sets up a designated activity company, DAC, then says he or she has nothing to do with any of these things or the employees in the DAC. It is shocking. The consequence is not just for those workers, but for delivering on the creation of an industry with a permanent, developing and trained pool of workers - the crew one needs to make films and, indeed, attract investment to film.

The Deputy has shared new information with me and I will look at that. I can remember the exact debate he and I had on this a couple of years ago when I said this tax credit is predicated on quality employment being made available. He asked me in the Dáil Chamber what would happen with the tax credit if that quality employment was not available. I said at that point we would have to review how the tax credit is being made available and what the consequences would be for the company in receipt of it. That is what we have done with the process that is in place.

I will look at the information Deputy Boyd Barrett has shared with me. I assure him of my continued interest in this matter and my hope that the process that is under way in the WRC, which I believe our debates and the action I have taken in previous Finance Bills have been a catalyst for, can lead to changes that get the balance right between creativity in the sector, despite the fact I know employment can change from project to project and film to film, and making progress on issues which appear to be there from an industrial relations point of view and an employment rights perspective. We will continue to debate this matter and I will continue to be interested in it. I hope later in the year or early next year we see a step forward in the WRC on this matter.

Again, I genuinely thank the Minister for those commitments and his engagement and interest on the issue. I will make one or two other brief supplementary points for his consideration. There has been much talk about the possibility of a collective agreement as a way of resolving this. I will point out that the producers to whom I refer, and the people who support no change in the situation and who were defending the status quo in terms of denying responsibility for employment, essentially refused to go to the forum for stakeholders that was agreed by the Oireachtas joint committee. They refused and, effectively, vetoed that forum.

One way to resolve it is for the Minister to have the forum, to have everybody in and to hear the case in front of independent people, like the Minister, who can hear the points and then adjudicate independently on it. There is intense lobbying coming from a certain sector that does not want the change. If it has nothing to hide, or if anybody else has nothing to hide, bring them all in and let us hear from them. Let us hear the different cases and make a fair and independent adjudication.

In terms of a collective agreement, no collective agreement is legally possible if we are not talking about the employer and employee. When there is reference to the Screen Producers Ireland, SPI, employment agreement or a collective agreement, SPI is a representative body and is not an employer. In fact, it is saying publicly that its members are not employers. Its members or it, as a body, cannot legally establish a collective agreement because it is saying it is not the employer. Only employers and employees can have a collective agreement. By the way, the Labour Court found in a recent hearing that these same producers were in breach of a collective agreement they had previously undertaken.

That concludes the discussion. How stands the amendment?

On the basis the Minister has said genuinely that he will look into it, I will not press the amendment. I thank the Minister for his engagement.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment Nos. 69 and 70 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 69:

In page 45, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

“22. Within three months of the passing of this Act, the Minister shall produce a report on the effective rate of corporation tax being paid across the country and the effect of the closing of tax loopholes would have on revenue.”.

I was hoping Deputy Barry would take up the mantle because I have to go shortly. I will make a brief point. This amendment is about loopholes and establishing a minimum effective corporate tax rate. We have rehearsed the argument at length. I believe, however, the argument the Minister makes is that if we did this, we would somehow endanger foreign multinational investment in this country. I do not believe that is true because they are paying such a low level of tax.

As I pointed out to the Minister the other day, even on the day Mr. Joe Biden was elected, Mr. Brendan Boyle, a Democrat congressman, was asked on national radio whether these multinational companies would leave if a little bit more tax was requested or levied on them. He said he did not believe so because they make so much profit here and Ireland is such an ideal location, particularly because of our trained and skilled workforce, our access to European markets and the fact we are English speaking.

Why would we not consider having a minimum effective corporate tax rate to address the clear and fairly brazen exploitation of loopholes, particularly in the areas of intangible assets and intra-group transactions. By the way, during the Committee Stage debate I was wrong to say that had changed in the layout of the revenue reliefs. It a bit hard to find online but just so we know, there was €16 billion in intra-group transactions relief. That is one loophole totalling €16 billion. That is the movement of profits to subsidiaries where they become costs for those companies, and through that mechanism they write down their tax bill, their taxable profits, to negligible levels.

I believe the Minister knows the argument. He knows our view of it but, surely, one way to make things a bit fairer, to get a significant additional tax contribution and to close off what is clearly an abuse, to some degree at least, would be to enforce a minimum effective corporate tax rate.

I wish to speak to amendment No. 70 which proposes that a report be drawn up to look into the question of a doubling of the corporation tax rates from 12.5% to 25%, which is a policy I support.

I will start with a couple of clear facts. The first is that Covid-19 will cost Irish society a large sum of money. The costs that have been heaped on society by Covid-19 are currently being paid, first and foremost, through borrowing. I have no problem with that. One can borrow on the international markets for extremely low rates at the moment. It is not, however, a policy that is indefinitely sustainable and at a certain point, the question will arise as to how this is paid for and who pays for it. I am opposed to working people paying the price the way they did during the austerity crisis. I am also opposed, broadly speaking, to middle class people being made to foot that bill. I believe there are those within Irish society who can afford to pay for it.

It is also incontrovertible that enormous profits are being made by big business and the multinational sector in this country at the moment. The figures of the Department of Finance underline that. The fact the Department of Finance can estimate that corporation tax receipts will raise €12.5 billion this year as opposed to €10.9 billion last year, an increase of more than €1.5 billion, is a sure sign that massive profits are being made at the moment.

In fact, 40% of those profits are estimated to be made by three companies alone, namely, Google, Facebook and Apple. Economists talk about a K-shaped recovery, pointing to the fact that sections of society and of the corporate sector have increased their profits significantly, not despite but because of Covid, in particular in the tech and pharma sectors. The argument against doubling or increasing corporation tax, or even collecting all corporation tax, is that if we go down this road, corporations will do a runner. The argument is that they will go and there will be severe job losses as a result.

Is this the case? Why do corporations come here in the first place? The tax policy, without doubt, is a factor, but there are other, larger factors. The pool of educated, skilled labour in this country is a major one. That Ireland is a country where English is the language that the majority of people living in the country can speak and that it has access to the EU market have always been key factors for multinational investment in this country. A major change is taking place, however, about which there has not been sufficient discussion or debate. Until now, those corporations have had a choice between the UK and Ireland, but Brexit makes Ireland a more attractive country for multinational investment and at the very least would be the basis for a serious review of the 12.5% policy in that regard.

This issue is often presented in sensationalist ways by the media and Government politicians. They say we are talking about a doubling of corporation tax. Yes, I am; I think corporations can afford it and there would not be a flight of capital if that were to be introduced. Looked at another way, if we take 12.5%, corporations are left to keep 87.5%, while if we keep 25%, they will be left to keep 75%. Their profits will be reduced not by one half but by one seventh, a far more modest sum in that regard. If the State had those resources or the majority of them, and if it could collect the moneys that are currently not collected through all the various dodges that exist, what could be done about a national health service, about investment in social and affordable housing or about eliminating the scourge of poverty from society? All those issues would come onto the agenda of what would be possible.

The proposal is that a report be produced on this issue. I commend amendment No. 70 to the House.

I propose to take amendments Nos. 69 and 70 together. The trading profits of companies in Ireland are generally taxed at the standard corporation tax rate of 12.5%. Some of the main features of the current corporation tax regime are its simplicity and the fact it applies to a broad base. Our growth-friendly tax system has contributed to improvements in living standards for all citizens and is consistent with the OECD's recommendations for how best to support economic growth.

Deputies will be aware that a range of analysis has found that the effective corporation tax rate in Ireland is between 10% and 11%. This includes research conducted by my Department, co-authored by an independent academic, reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General and annual data published by the Revenue Commissioners. While this percentage is lower than the 12.5% rate, this can be attributed to the availability of a small number of targeted tax measures that may lower the effective rate of corporation tax paid. Furthermore, while our headline rate is low, the yield from corporation tax revenue constitutes a substantial portion of Exchequer revenues. Corporation tax was the third largest tax head in 2019, accounting for more than 18% of total net tax receipts. For the year to date, corporation tax receipts have continued to perform well, notwithstanding the current economic circumstances. Sustained corporation tax receipts are critical to maintaining Exchequer revenues and funding the Government supports to both individuals and businesses that have been affected by this disease.

It is my view that any increase in corporation tax rates would be detrimental to our economy. Deputies may be aware that the Department carried out a comprehensive economic assessment of our corporation tax policy in 2014, which found that any increase in our tax rate would have had a significant effect on the level of investment within our country. The implications are very clear. An increase to our 12.5% corporation tax rate could be expected to damage inward investment flows and reduce investment in economic activity in our State, with negative effects on the overall corporation tax yield and employment.

On the question of so-called loopholes referred to by Deputies, all companies and self-employed individuals are entitled to take a deduction for legitimate business expenses when calculating their taxable profits. In addition, Ireland offers a small number of tax measures designed to support particular policy objectives that are clearly set out in law and available to any qualifying company. Both my Department and Revenue publish detailed information annually outlining the cost of tax expenditures. Clearly, these statutory deductions and reliefs are not loopholes. The only way for such reliefs and incentives to be introduced or amended is through the normal legislative process. In addition, Revenue provides guidance on the conditions for relief and carries out compliance interventions to ensure the accuracy of amounts claimed.

Furthermore, the tax code is under continuous review to ensure it operates as intended. My Department and the Revenue Commissioners work together to bring forward the necessary legislative provisions to address any potential issues that may arise. Ireland is fully engaged in the international process of tax reform and in this regard works in conjunction with EU and other OECD member states. By doing so, we have introduced extensive reforms in recent years to tackle aggressive tax planning. Some of the many actions taken in this regard include reform of company residence rules and transfer pricing rules, the introduction of new controlled foreign company rules, anti-hybrid rules and an exit tax, and improved transparency reporting requirements and information exchange.

In summary, I believe that the measures proposed to increase the rate in our corporation tax policy would be harmful to jobs and to the investment that is playing such a critical role in providing tax to our country at a time in which it is needed and providing jobs in our country at a time in which they are so badly needed. It is for those reasons that I will not accept the amendments.

I will not go over the substantive points again. We did that on Committee Stage and the basic points have been outlined during this debate. Nevertheless, I will make one further point to the Minister. I have outlined a variety of reasons that corporations invest in this country.

I underlined the opinion - I think it is a fact - that a key reason there is high multinational investment in this country is because it is a country where the majority of people speak English and it has access to the European Union market, and that circumstances are about to change with Brexit. Surely that would point towards the idea of increased investment or, when multinationals are deciding where they will invest, increased attractiveness in Ireland as a location for that. That, in itself, is an argument for a review of the policy to see whether it is appropriate to increase the tax or leave it as it is. The Minister did not make any reference in his comments that I caught to that change in circumstance. Does he not feel that change in circumstance is the basis for looking at this with fresh eyes?

Deputy Barry is correct that there is a change of circumstances with what is happening with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. I make two points on the Deputy's analysis. The first is that, with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, it does not change the fact that other countries are still eager to maximise the amount of international jobs and investment they could have. Indeed, the United Kingdom may make decisions in the future regarding what is the rate of corporate tax that it wants to charge in its jurisdiction. For all of those reasons, it is as important as ever that we have a stable corporate tax rate. By stable, I not only mean it not going up but that it is equally important to indicate that we are not planning to reduce it either. Ireland will not be part of any race to the bottom in corporate tax rates. This is a competitive world for the jobs and investment that are important to our country and the point that Deputy Barry has made does not take away from that.

On the Deputy's second point regarding the reason international companies are located here, the Deputy referred to us being an English-speaking country within the European Union. It is far broader than that. It is the quality of our education. It is the quality of our public services. It is the general tone and attitude that we have here towards companies being located here and a recognition of their value and the jobs that they provide. It is far bigger than that we are an English-speaking country but the reason Deputy Barry does not want to recognise that is it points to a quality of public services, a quality of education and qualities about our country that do not fit in with the narrative that Deputies such as Deputy Barry have about our country. There are many reasons that investment is here. The quality of our education, the quality of our public services and a recognition of the value of investment in our country are easily as important as the fact that we are an English-speaking country.

There is no right to respond because the proposer of the amendment is not here.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 70:

In page 45, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:

"22. The Minister shall, within six months of the passing of this Act, prepare and lay before Dáil Éireann a report on the revenue gained from increasing corporation tax to 25 per cent for corporations with over €800,000 in profits and in closing loopholes that exist that allow corporations to hugely reduce their rate of tax.".

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 71 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 72, 73, 75 to 77, inclusive, 83 and 84 are related and will be discussed together. Amendment No. 73 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 72.

I move amendment No. 72:

In page 47, to delete lines 32 to 40, to delete pages 48 to 50, and in page 51, to delete lines 1 to 30.

We are moving this amendment because, in the period of the ten-year strategy, we will not have an opportunity to discuss these again. These are not our figures, but international figures. Somewhere between €3,000 and €9,000 will be paid by each member of society in this carbon tax. That is a great deal of money, especially in the middle of a pandemic, and in any case, without any proper fair analysis of the impact this is having and the joined-up thinking.

We will be told there are different carbon initiatives, different schemes and different advantages. Where are they for rural Ireland? They are not there. For example, there is a two-year waiting list for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, warmer homes scheme. It is a shocking indictment and so frustrating for people. The Tipperary Energy Agency, which is in my home town of Cathair Dún Iascaigh, is wonderful. It does great work. Companies have been in touch with me on different occasions over the past number of years because they cannot get paid and they have the works carried out on people's homes to try and generate energy savings and provide some bit of comfort and solace for people living in rural and urban areas. This scheme covers the country. When asking will I raise this issue, they then say that we cannot and that if we say anything they will lose the contracts. They are being held, and they are carrying on credit for work that has done two years previously.

There is a two-year waiting list and it has grown incrementally. While that is going on, it is a fake scheme because the funding is not in it. People want to embrace climate action and climate change and retrofit their homes but they are bogged down in bureaucracy. Some assessments may be taking place during Covid but no work is being carried out. One could add another seven or eight months to the waiting list. In one case, where the family offered to vacate the home in order to have the retrofitting take place, they were told that they still would not get it done. There is no money in the bank to pay it. It is as simple as that. We are taking the people's money under false pretences with no proper analysis or impact assessments of the damage that this is doing to people and the ability to live, and indeed whether we will be successful in our carbon strategy.

We are pushing this amendment because it is related to a number of amendments that we have down which, obviously, we will not get to. We are concerned about the bland sweeping action of the Finance Bill and budget 2021 and that we will not have a chance to discuss this again. As I stated early, we already had the 2040 plan which is destroying rural Ireland - just laying it waste. With our county development plan being discussed at present - one of the only powers councillors have is the function to make the county development plan - it can be overruled by the Department and by a new quango that has been set up. It is to Hell or to Connacht for the people and I am saying here, neither to Hell nor to Connacht. We need to live. We need to be able to get to and from work. We need to have services and transport and meaningful schemes, not all announcements for Luas and DART. I have nothing against the people of Dublin as they need them.

The Minister earlier was saying that I was not speaking to the amendment. I am speaking to this set of amendments, which the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has read out, because the Rural Independents who put them down are hugely concerned and annoyed.

We have had tokenism, pious platitudes and all kinds of promises when it comes to getting a bang for our buck and a return for the moneys that have been levied, and will be levied, on men, women and children in families all over the country. We have got nothing out of the moneys that were levied heretofore. In fact, it is not true that we got nothing. We got supports for some greenways and other projects. As I mentioned earlier, we have a blueway in south Tipperary and a wonderful greenway in Dungarvan and Port Láirge. However, the county councils have been left hugely indebted as a result of pushing forward those projects. I salute the community groups for their work in this area. I mentioned Knockmealdown Active earlier and other community groups that are doing their best on a daily basis to promote tourism products and a greener economy, with mountain and hill walks and everything else. That is being taken up in a huge way and people from the cities are going to those areas to walk. However, we need supports for people who are having to pay out these taxes on their fill of diesel, their home heating oil and their bag of coal, briquettes or heat logs. We need that support but we are not getting it.

I am crying extremely foul that this provision is being introduced for a nine-year period and we will not have a chance to debate it in next year's Finance Bill. Fair play is all that we want. Fair play is fine play with me any day but it is a long time since we had fair play for the people of rural Ireland. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle knows the services are not there. I hear her talking all the time about a ring road for Galway. We need a ring road for Tipperary town that will allow people to live their lives. We pay all the taxes but we do not get the returns. It is one of the last towns to be bypassed, certainly in County Tipperary, and lorries are parked up there, polluting the air for hours on end as they try to get through. Business people cannot do business and motorists will not drive into the town. They park somewhere else, outside the town, which is part of the policy and strategy that was put in place.

We will be pressing this amendment.

The Deputy's description of what I said is not quite what he has heard me saying. I will come back to his comment when I am not in the Chair. There is no problem with what he said but I would like to clarify it.

Our amendments Nos. 73 and 75 relate specifically to the application of carbon tax to agricultural diesel. We had a very detailed discussion on Committee Stage regarding the broad thrust of carbon taxes. However, in the case of the agricultural sector, there is no alternative available because farmers in Ireland do not have electric tractors. The whole objective behind carbon taxes is to get people to move to sustainable alternatives. It is not about bringing in additional income but, rather, getting people to migrate to more sustainable forms of transport. In the agricultural sector, people do not have such alternatives.

Farmers are going to face a bill of an extra €27 million in 2021 as a result of the carbon taxes that have been introduced. As I said, they face those taxes in a situation where they do not have alternative options. While we can argue over the mechanism of levying carbon taxes on the rest of the population, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for imposing carbon taxes on agricultural diesel when there is no alternative. It is disproportionately impacting on rural Ireland and the agricultural sector. Brexit is coming down the road in the next couple of weeks and there is huge pressure on the beef sector. These carbon taxes will add to that pressure. It makes no sense to introduce this particular levy given the current situation in which our agriculture sector finds itself.

As I have said to the Minister before, the way these taxes are structured is regressive in that they are disproportionately penalising rural Ireland, where alternatives are not available, and not taxing urban Ireland enough to motivate people to get out of their cars and onto public transport. A total of 37% of our population, or nearly four in ten people, live in isolated rural communities throughout the country. They do not have alternative modes of transport available to them and, as such, they have no choice but to use their car. I expect the Minister will respond that farmers can use the taxation code to avail of refunds and rebates in respect of carbon taxes. However, that option only arises if one is liable to pay tax in the first place. As we know from the annual Teagasc farm surveys of farm incomes and the huge downward financial pressures being put on farm incomes, many farmers do not have a taxable income.

Looking at the broader issue of carbon taxes, I have pointed out to the Minister before that, based on the structure that is currently in place, half of households in Dublin will pay less than €9.11 a week in transport costs, when the Dublin Bus subsidy is taken into account, at the point where carbon taxes reach €100 per tonne. On the other hand, rural commuters, who cannot avail of alternative transport options, will pay €39.50 a week. In other words, rural people will pay four times more than the Dublin resident who has a bus running by his or her door every five minutes. The way the charges are structured is unfair. The carbon tax is a regressive tax when it comes to rural Ireland.

As Minister with responsibility for energy matters, I put alternative proposals for the structuring of carbon taxes to the Minister for Finance. As a backbench Deputy, I submitted a proposal to the climate action committee. In our pre-budget submission, I again made the alternative argument to the Minister that we should introduce a system that is based on the actual emissions from vehicles, which would see people paying more when their car is sitting in congestion. In his response to me on Committee Stage of this Bill, the Minister said that something along these lines could be introduced over the longer term, which might involve altering emissions-testing procedures at national car test centres to read the emissions profile of a vehicle over the period of, say, three months prior to its being brought in for the NCT. This is the type of innovative change that is needed. It is the type of innovative change that will motivate people out of their cars and onto public transport where it is available to them.

We have seen in the past that motor tax has been a far more effective tool than carbon taxes in addressing the environmental issues associated with the use of motor vehicles. Small incremental taxes do not make people change their behaviour. The motor taxation changes in respect of diesel led people to change their behaviour in the past and the same approach can work again in the future, if taxes are restructured in a way that penalises the owners of vehicles who drive on congested streets and sit in traffic in congested towns on a regular basis, rather than those who are commuting long distances and do not have alternatives available to them. I ask the Minister to think again in regard to how we structure carbon taxes. In regard to the agricultural sector, I plead with him to exempt agricultural fuel from the carbon tax in a context where farmers do not have electric tractors.

The carbon tax is a fraud that is being perpetrated against ordinary workers and families. Scandalously, it is being perpetrated in the name of environmentalism.

There is nothing related to environmentalism with regard to the carbon tax. The carbon tax is simply another revenue-generating measure. It would be helpful if people before the House were honest and actually set out what exactly the carbon tax is. The carbon tax increase on fuel, added on budget night, has done nothing for the environment. The only net result of that decision on budget day is that less money is in the pockets of people already struggling to make ends meet.

This is a tax on ordinary workers and families who do not have alternatives and who simply cannot afford to change their diesel or petrol cars for electric vehicles. They are the people who are penalised as a result of this tax. For those who cannot afford to change their home heating system, this is a tax. For the hundreds of thousands of people who are in rented property and do not have any say whatsoever in the type of home heating oil system in place in their rented properties, this is simply a tax and an additional burden on them. What is more, the Government Deputies know it.

What makes it worse is that there has been no full analysis of the carbon tax that has already been in place. There has been no analysis of its financial impact on those who are forced to pay it or its environmental impact. International studies have shown that carbon taxes are actually the most minimal contributors when it comes to actually changing people's behaviour and acting as an incentive for people to address the very real challenges with carbon tax. Why has the Minister not put in place a systematic appraisal of the carbon taxes already in place with regard to their environmental impact as well as their impact on the financial situation of ordinary workers and families?

The Government has not only decided to increase the carbon tax this year and the next, it has decided to legislate for a year-on-year increase until 2030. That is some arrogance to put in place a punitive tax on ordinary workers and families and then commit every Government until 2030 to introduce similar increases. The Government did not put in place legislative provisions to ensure that the old age pension would increase every year between now and 2030. People still do not know what the age of pension entitlement will be in 2030 because, of course, that has been fobbed off for another review.

Ordinary people will, at some point, come to the realisation that this is a fraud. They will come to the realisation that this is not an environmental measure but a punitive tax in the name of environmentalism. I suggest the House collectively supports the amendments put forward by Deputy Pearse Doherty and others. We must recognise the failures of the policy to date. Instead, we must put in place a real climate action strategy that is about working with ordinary workers and families throughout this country, including those from rural communities. We must work with those who, up until this point, have had no option but to drive their diesel car to work or to heat their homes with solid fuel. We must work together to address climate change. We must stop the pretence, the tokenism and the hypocrisy. We must work with the ordinary working families who have no choice but to hop in their cars every day to drop their children to school because the school transport system is such a mess under the Government. We must work with the ordinary working families who have go to work away from their local communities because we have not got the regional balance or investment that all these communities are crying out for. We must work with those who have no choice but to hop in the car to bring their children to their local GAA match because public transport is an absolute joke in rural communities. We cannot pretend for one second that this carbon tax is about addressing any of those issues. This is simply a way of increasing the burden on ordinary workers and families for Exchequer funding. It is a fraud. I hope the House will take this opportunity to reject its provision in the Finance Bill.

The carbon tax is all stick. It is turning people against the environmental agenda, environmentalism and the effort to address climate change. It has no appreciation of the challenges in people's lives. Approximately 400,000 people in this State live in fuel and energy poverty. There are commitments in the budget and the Finance Bill concerning mitigation measures. They are only partial mitigation, however, and do not go anywhere near addressing the impact of the carbon tax in its totality, not this year and certainly not for the years to come.

The promised retrofitting schemes, the commitment to which I welcome, will not address the shortcomings or offset the impact of the carbon tax this year or into the future. There are waiting lists in the region of two and a half years. It should not be forgotten that some of these programmes are specifically targeted towards our most vulnerable, such as people living in poverty or with additional healthcare needs. The services and supports that are supposed to be in place - I accept Covid has had an impact - are not there for them or are not being delivered on time. Essentially, this is an additional tax with nothing to offset it in any real or meaningful way. The retrofitting schemes have to be bolstered. There needs to be a significant commitment in terms of the recruitment of people. There are workers ready and willing to do that retrofitting work. That needs to happen as quickly as possible.

On 1 December, the protections people had against utility disconnections were stopped. Last year, more than 5,000 people had their electricity disconnected and in excess of 2,400 people had their gas supply disconnected. There is no commitment or protection from the Government for those people today. However, we will introduce a carbon tax, essentially an additional levy for people who cannot afford to pay at this point in time. The public service obligation has been increased by 130%. Again, this is an additional burden on people whom the Minister intends to levy with a carbon tax as well. It simply makes no sense to people and they cannot afford it.

For those living in fuel and energy poverty, there was an emergency credit increase from €10 to €100. However, there was a levy on that. Instead of paying back the €100 recipients were grateful to get, they were forced to pay up to €170. People are penalised for living in poverty. That is the truth. That is what we get off Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and now the Green Party in government. The carbon tax is an insult to injury for those people, a point which the Government just does not realise.

On the just transition fund, those living at the coalface are the workers in Bord na Móna in the midlands and the energy sector. They have been moved out of that employment. They are living with promises from the Government about alternative pathways which have not materialised, again adding insult to injury.

The previous Government committed to a strategy to combat energy poverty but that has not materialised.

It committed to an independently chaired energy poverty advisory group but this has not materialised. We are told by the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, that it will be reviewed next year. It is simply not good enough. It does not connect with the day-to-day experience of people and it is completely unacceptable from the Government.

With regard to the points made by previous speakers, it is one thing where there are alternatives for people but significant sectors of the population, particularly in rural areas, do not have alternatives available to them. This carbon tax is all stick. It adds insult to injury and in my firm opinion it does nothing to serve the environmental green agenda. In fact, it runs completely contrary to it. There is a firm commitment to introduce this for a number of years but there is no firm commitment on mitigation measures nor appreciation or understanding of the challenges people have, at a time when we are essentially forcing people back into their cars because Covid-19 means public transport is at 50% or 25%, depending on the level of Covid restrictions.

Along with the previous speaker, I support entirely the amendments tabled by Sinn Féin and others. I firmly believe the Government needs to realise the practical implications of the carbon tax as it is presented for ordinary people living their day-to-day lives when there are no alternatives for them. The Government has no intention or interest in providing those alternatives. This raises a serious question about what the carbon tax is about.

I will speak to amendments Nos. 73 and 75 with regard to the carbon tax on agricultural diesel. Earlier, we spoke about safety on the family farm and the equipment and tax concessions or rebates. We were applauding one another on the fact this was being introduced and that it is a great move. What the carbon tax will mean for farmers trying to eke out a living for themselves and their families is that they will pay more in tax and they do not know when or how they will get the alternative. The alternative will be the electric tractor, electric machinery or another form of an autonomous vehicle they can use on their land. This will not happen in 2021. Even if it were available, the cost would probably be prohibitive.

We have to look at this, and the motivation for our group in tabling the amendment was to highlight the issue. Where there is no alternative for farmers, the Government should not be taxing them. I strongly believe the Government should consider this. We have asked the Minister to do a report in the first 90 days on how he would exclude agricultural diesel from the carbon tax. It would be a very small token to offer to the farming community when there is no alternative. We spoke about the just transition and the fact that the carbon tax would be a fund to help us with it. I fail to see where in the just transition we will fit the farmer who is paying more and who has no alternative. I ask the Minister to consider the fact that this tax is coming prematurely for the farmers who have no alternative. Effectively, it is an additional tax.

I want to speak about fuel poverty. We have introduced schemes such as the SEAI scheme for improving insulation in houses and we introduced a 100% grant for households that are getting a fuel allowance. Those applying today will be told they will have to wait 24 months before an engineer will come out to inspect the property to decide the types of measures that can be done. At the same time, if a family or older couple in fuel poverty need a car, which most people in rural Ireland do, they will pay more for fuel for their vehicles. They will not get a benefit from the fact the house is not being heated. They will find again that they are paying a tax without reaping a just reward or being part of the just transition.

We have heard other speakers discuss public transport and the fact we have very little. Last night, I was standing in Kildare Street and seven public transport buses passed one after another with signs for different places. If I saw that in County Galway in Tuam, Gort, Loughrea, Kinvara or Headford, I would ask what was going on because we had a proper public transport system. However, we do not.

Because people are trapped and they do not have an alternative, we are penalising them prematurely. While we need to have a carbon fund we need to make sure that alternatives are in place where we are gathering the funding so people can change their habits. We all agree that one of the basic fundamentals to make climate action work will be getting people to change the way they do their business and how they travel to work, and all of this has to be taken into account. We say we have to educate our young people, but while we do not have the infrastructure in areas where no transport is available, we should not be penalising people by taxing them.

I said yesterday, and I say again today, that the west and north west are regressing in terms of economic development. This has been told to us by the European Commission. That area is now in transition and it has been downgraded. This means the amount of funding being spent per capita in the area is approximately one third of what it is on the east coast. If we continue with taxation systems that do not take into account the regionality of our country, the diversity we have and the complete inequality in services, we will continue to leave these places lagging behind. The principle of the just transition is that we will leave nobody behind. I ask the Minister to look at this from the point of view that these measures will leave a lot of people behind.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this. I am disappointed that amendment No. 74, which I tabled, was ruled out of order. I do not know why because it was a very simple amendment based on the fact that agricultural contractors do 90% of the work. I know the Minister will tell us about the tax rebate the farmers have and that there is double taxation. The reality is that farm contractors do 90% of the work, be it silage or slurry and various work carried out on the farm, because many farmers do not have time to do that section of the work. These contractors do not get a grant and they do not get a rebate. This is why I tabled the amendment in support of the other amendments.

The Government, which has been like myxomatosis with the Green Party, has now decided that rural Ireland will be the carbon sink for the rest of the country.

They want to tell the farmers they cannot do this, that or the other. My understanding, from listening to parliamentary questions being asked about the Cork to Mallow road and other road sections, is that public transport might be looked at. People in rural areas do not have a bus service to bring them to work, and do not have a Luas or any of the public transport systems that are in place in the cities, through no fault of their own. They are what we call middle Ireland and what the Minister's party leader called the people who get up early in the morning and go to work, rear a family and keep this country ticking over with taxes. They are the people we want to keep screwing and screwing.

The Minister will tell us about retrofitting. If they have over €25,000 in income, the Minister should not be codding people about retrofitting. That is the reality. He talks about just transition. Yes, some money will come to the midlands and it is badly needed, of that there is no doubt. However, what is the just transition for someone in Donegal who might have to drive 40 or 50 miles? What is the just transition for someone in Clare, Kerry, Mayo or Connemara? What is the just transition for them, except to screw them more for carbon tax? It is to make sure that the fuel they have to heat their homes at night has a carbon tax on it. It is to make sure the car they drive has a carbon tax on it. It is easy to tell them to go electric. Unfortunately, for many of these people, the best they can do when they are doing well is to buy cars that cost a maximum of €10,000. If we look at the price of an electric car at the moment, I do not think they will get many of them for that.

We do not seem to understand the plight of those people. I agree with Deputy Carthy when he called the carbon tax another form of tax to screw the Irish people. Unfortunately, the agricultural sector is going to be paying the most. Why is the Government doing that to people who have no option? The Minister should show me how a contractor or a farmer could buy an electric tractor. It is not available. They are developing some at the moment but someone would want to win the lotto to pay the price I saw on the first one they are trying to develop. This is putting more pressure on an industry, in particular the beef sector, that has been struggling in the last few years.

If there was an alternative, we would all be standing up and shouting about it but, unfortunately, there is no alternative at the moment. We seem to be disconnected, and that is the feeling in rural parts of Ireland: disconnection from the political people who bring in different measures to cripple them. As I was born and reared in a rural area, I do not have the privilege of a bus, a tram or a Luas running by my front door. In our time, we had a school bus that brought us to school but, unfortunately, the Government has cut back on that. Most people are not eligible for school transport, yet we talk about climate change and having less transport and traffic on the road. At the same time, we are going to penalise these people for where they were born and reared.

We are supposed to treat all our citizens equally. The Minister will probably stand up later and say there is double taxation, and there is. However, if 90% of people’s work is done by somebody else, it does not really matter because the price of what they are doing is going up. Before people pay tax, in case the Minister did not know, they have to earn money and make a profit, and many of these people are struggling to make a profit. We are constantly, year by year, trying to shut down rural Ireland and its people with taxes so there is no other solution except to stay with the diesel car, because they are travelling long distances and cannot afford a newer one. They have to stay with the diesel tractor because there is no other one, and it is the same for the loader for putting up silage and all the different equipment that is needed.

We talked earlier about safety and we welcome the safety measures. However, for the farming sector right around rural Ireland, we are basically whipping more money out of their pockets and, at the same time, telling them they will have to plant a few extra trees, if they can get a licence, which is nearly impossible as well, or they will have to do this, that or the other. They have to take the sucker punch for everyone else. People are fed up with that.

I want to speak to amendment No. 72 and also to support amendments Nos. 76 and 77.

There has been a lot of talk about just transition and some people will ask if it is just a fancy slogan or a buzzword, or if it has any meaning at all. I represent the county of Donegal and what the people of Donegal see in this section is simply more taxes - more taxes to get from A to B and to drive their car, more cost being placed on their families to heat their homes and more cost to cook their food.

The date of 15 February 1965, over 55 years ago, was an important one in Donegal. It was the last time a train rolled out of the county, the last time a public service that most other counties in this State can enjoy was available to the people of Donegal. If it was genuinely serious about dealing with the issues of climate change, the Government would put in place the alternatives, build the infrastructure and ensure we have the resources available to support people to make that transition from reliance on a petrol or diesel car to proper public transport. However, after ten years in government, perhaps the Minister can tell me what his party and his partner in government have done - given they have been in power for the past 100 years between them - in regard to enhancing public services in Donegal. Have they thought once about increasing public transport and providing rail infrastructure to the people of the county?

The reality, and it has been pointed out by other speakers, including Deputy Carthy, who represents Cavan and Monaghan, is that they are only other two counties in this State that do not have a rail network, and Tyrone and Fermanagh complete the picture. Those are the five counties without adequate public transport. Yet, there are no plans by this Government, despite the fact that, in this legislation, it wants this House to vote in not only an increase in carbon tax this year on solid fuel, natural gas, mineral oil, petrol and diesel, but also for it to increase next year, the year after and the year after that, right up until 2030, without any commitment in regard to how those people will be supported or protected in those subsequent years - none whatsoever. The reality is we do not trust the Government. Why would we trust Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on these matters? The Minister brings up an issue where he says some people will be protected because of social welfare measures this year, at a fraction of the actual taxes that will be collected this year, but there is no commitment for any other year.

This carbon tax will make people poorer. It will make it more expensive for them to heat their homes, to get to work, to the GP and to the shops and to cook their food. That is the reality. This is not about saving the environment.

All this will do in the absence of alternatives is make families poorer.

The Minister, as he tried to do yesterday, will talk about Sinn Féin, carbon taxes and all the rest. Taxes can do two things, as I have said over and over again. They can raise revenue for the State, which is a legitimate purpose, or they can be introduced to try to change behaviour. However, if it is done for the latter reason, and there are many examples of where we have done it in the past and where Sinn Féin called for those type of taxes or supported Government measures such as the sugar-sweetened drinks taxes and other taxes, we have to make sure that the alternatives exist, so this is a tax on rural Ireland. This is a tax on lower income households. The ESRI supports carbon taxes but it has also made it clear that there are different ways to introduce carbon taxes that are more progressive. The Green Party, before it sold its soul to the devils - Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - used to argue for a redistribution model that would go back 100% into the pockets of the public. The ESRI said that that would alleviate the impact of the carbon tax and the fact that it is disproportionate and affects those who are rural dwellers, from low income households and households with children. However, the Minister is planning to plough ahead and for that reason Sinn Féin will be opposing this section and in terms of our amendments Nos. 72, 76 and 77, I will be pushing amendment No. 72 to a vote.

I will be speaking in support of amendments Nos. 72, 76 and 77. It is very clear that we are in a climate emergency and we need to act now. We need strong decisive action and leadership by the Government to deal with this climate emergency but we need progressive policies if we want to deal with this it.

I am deeply disappointed at the regressive nature of the carbon tax. I spoke at length about it on Committee Stage but I want to again highlight my anger at the regressive nature of it. Simply put, this is a regressive tax and the ESRI has been very clear that it will hit low income households most as well as single parent households. That is wrong, and I do not know how the Minister can stand over that. On Committee Stage, I found it particularly ironic that we debated this just before we discussed excise exemptions for NATO. We know that war is a massive pollutant and extremely bad for the environment but we are not discussing that; we are discussing the carbon tax. I made the point on Committee Stage that if the Minister is to push this we will see increases in carbon tax until 2030. His argument against my argument was that in this year's budget we are seeing increases that will make it okay in terms of social welfare and so on but I said that if we have to commit to increases in carbon tax we should also have equivalent increases in social welfare every year to offset the negative, regressive nature of this tax. I stand by that assertion and I believe that is what is needed if the Minister and his colleagues in government continue to pursue this regressive tax.

I want to add my voice to those of numerous speakers regarding the major impact this regressive tax will have on rural Ireland. We, and the Government, need to realise what many other speakers stated. People want to use public transport. They know it is good for the environment. It can be a lot less stressful way of going from one place to another than having to drive oneself but the reality is that public transport is not available in rural Ireland and when it is available it is at a massive cost compared even to city buses. I live in a city. There is a bus stop beside my house in Mervue. I am very lucky to have it but the reality is that the people living in Carraroe, in Connemara, have a totally different reality when it comes to public transport. If they want to use public transport to go to work, they may forget about it. They will not get there on time. If they ever get there it will probably cost them half a day's wages.

We will push amendment No. 72 to a vote. This is a regressive tax. We need to deal with the climate crisis but using a regressive tax, mar dhea, to support the environment is not the right approach to take. We need progressive policies to deal with this crisis.

Two speakers have indicated, including Deputy Ó Murchú. It is practice to let the Minister back in at the end of the discussion. With their co-operation the two Deputies can speak and I will then allow the Minister to conclude. They will not have the full seven minutes because we have run out of time. They can have three minutes each.

Go raibh maith agat, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. It should not take seven minutes to say what I need to say; it should not even take three. I have to agree with much of what has already been said in this Chamber. I am speaking in support of amendments Nos. 72, 76 and 77. It is straightforward; carbon tax is a regressive tax. It has already been said that we are screwing over people who are the most susceptible. We are talking about the most poor people in rural Ireland who do not have the alternatives, the reality of dealing with the price of electric cars, and the fact that we do not have a retrofitting scheme that is fit for purpose and of which anybody can avail. We are talking about the fact that we have not put the public transport infrastructure into action that is necessary to allow us offer people those alternatives. We all agree that we need to make huge moves in respect of climate change but we cannot do that by screwing over the people who are poorest. We cannot continue to screw over people who work in the agricultural sector and people who live in rural Ireland. It is as simple as that. Deputy Doherty put it very well when he said that not only are we screwing people but we will screw them more and more every year until we get to 2030. This will not work. We need the Government to revisit it. We need something that works for everybody. We need the infrastructure and the retrofitting schemes. We need to give people opportunities. If we are even talking about electric cars, forget about the price of them. We need to ensure that we have the infrastructure in terms of charging points and so on.

I ask the Minister and beg the Government not to screw people over . We are at a particular time when people have been hammered and the last thing we need to do in rural Ireland to those people who are the poorest and do not have the resources is put another harness around them or further pressure on them. We need a rethink from the Government. We need fairness and to ensure that we will offer real alternatives and a solution to climate change rather than the hammer of carbon tax in this form.

The Minister stated that, effectively, the carbon cost was €1.50 per tank of fuel of €60. He should multiply that tenfold or even more for a truck. It is wrong to say that that is all it is costing the person who fills the car because the reality is that there is a diesel rebate system that rebates the money back to the haulier but because the floor is not low enough, the haulier does not get it.

Therefore the €30 that the carbon adds to the haulier multiplied by 50 is €1,500 a year, and that will be passed back to the consumer. It is not correct to say that it is only €1.50. It is multiples of that. The difference with the haulier who has to be licensed, compliant and heavily regulated is that hauliers do not have alternatives. I am well aware of it, as is the Minister. Nobody disagrees with the green agenda. Everybody wants to make improvements but the reality is that those alternatives are not in place. If the Minister wants to save money and to clean up the air, there is no problem. There are 101 things that can be done that nobody ever looks at.

Representatives of Dublin Port came into the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks yesterday. That company made €39 million last year and cannot put a system in place that allows the hauliers' operation to be productive. What happens in Dublin Port has ruined the air quality of Dublin and halved the hauliers' production. There is a barrier at the Dublin Port tunnel that causes 3,000 l of fuel a day to be emitted into Dublin's atmosphere, costing €1 per litre for the operators. That barrier is unnecessary. The trucks are free to go through the port tunnel. Any saving from the possibility that a car might not be charged is outrageous for the damage it is doing, and that has to be recognised. It would be a significant saving. We would not be paying the fines for our excessive emissions.

We should be doing everything that we can to remove every toll barrier in the country. It does not happen because Transport Infrastructure Ireland tied us up in contracts for 30 years with the toll operators and it is down to the toll operators to put in a fast lane for trucks that does not have a barrier. Instead, every haulier pays the price in the same way that they pay the price for the €39 million that is made by Dublin Port, which is not in any way beneficial to this country. We have shipping operators that are not registered in Ireland, and in that respect there is very little by way of tax coming in. With that €39 million, Dublin Port does not see fit to increase the capacity of the port. It is chock-a-block. Dublin Port is greedy. We have three large ports around the country that are not getting their portion of the business and this has to stop.

It is not fair to say that this stealth tax can be taken from the hauliers when there is no alternative. To protect the consumer, we must lower the floor for the diesel rebate scheme, which is actually the essential user scheme, and give this money to the hauliers. It is the only thing that Government gives them.

Let us begin with the science. I have listened to Sinn Féin quote the ESRI at length in other debates, so let us quote the report that Deputy Carthy, in his contribution earlier, said did not exist. I quote directly from the early pages of it:

Moreover, a carbon tax is the most efficient way of incentivising carbon abatement; that is, of achieving a given reduction in carbon emissions at the lowest economic cost, with a large literature finding that such taxes would reduce emissions in Ireland with little wider economic costs.

The report goes on to state:

Even though few broad-based carbon taxes have been in place for long, there is now also substantial evidence from ex-post evaluations that they are highly effective at reducing emissions, particularly from transport.

That is what the ESRI says. It is not just the ESRI that says that, but the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the expert advisory panel for our country on climate change. That is how the experts say we can reduce our carbon emissions and respond to the grave challenge of our climate crisis. The ESRI report goes on to say that measures should be put in place to reduce the effect of carbon taxation on those who are the most vulnerable. That is what this Government has done. It is what the Government did in this budget and in last year's budget. We changed the qualified child allowance and other social welfare benefits that will protect those who are the most vulnerable to changes in carbon pricing. We are looking at what scientists recommend to deal with the significant challenge of climate change and putting in place the measures, through tax, that are able to make a difference.

I listened to what Independent Deputies said on the matter and can understand why they would make their case. Many do not look to go into government but some do. Sinn Féin as a party looks to go into government. Party members seek to put their case in front of the people, as they have in recent general elections, on the basis of wanting to go into government. They said this afternoon that, on one hand, there is a climate crisis but on the other hand that they will not vote for and do not support the measure that scientists recommend to respond to the climate crisis. There are no circumstances in which Sinn Féin would support carbon taxing since it has made clear this evening it is against the principle of it and does not believe that carbon taxes should go up and change.

To hear that coming from a party that looks to go into government indicates a couple of things to me. Deputy Doherty said that he does not trust Fine Gael. I ask Deputy Doherty and Sinn Féin how this generation and future generations can trust Sinn Féin on climate change when Sinn Féin says it does not want to take and will not take the measure that scientists recommend to help reduce emissions in our country and across the world? When the next young person comes to a Sinn Féin Deputy or public representative of any kind and asks what they will do about climate change, what answer will Sinn Féin give, given that Sinn Féin says that it is against the measure that nearly all scientists recommend for tackling climate change and will not do it? I can see Deputy Doherty smirking about this. He would do the same to me.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Doherty is well able to dole it out. He has to take the argument back. If he wants a debate, let us have a debate about this. When the next young boy or girl comes up to Sinn Féin in rural Ireland and asks what it is doing to respond to climate change, how will Sinn Féin answer with credibility? Given the increase in carbon emissions that are causing such harm to our environment, Sinn Féin is saying that it will not put in place the measure that scientists are looking for. What are we doing with the revenue that is coming from carbon taxes? We are doing exactly what the ESRI and other experts want us to do. We are using the money from carbon taxes and investing it back into those things that can make a difference, to protecting the vulnerable, investing in our future, and doing the things now that can make a difference to reduce carbon emissions and help people to cope with the kind of change that we know is needed.

What is the message that we can take from this debate? We already know that Sinn Féin cannot be trusted in running and looking after our economy. We know that it cannot be trusted to protect our place in Europe. We know that Sinn Féin will say that it supports foreign direct investment and international investment, and then do all that it can to tax it more and more. The message that arises from this debate is as disingenuous as the worst climate change denier that will be found making a case about the change happening to our climate. The case that Sinn Féin is making is as disingenuous as those who would deny the existence of climate change.

It is saying that it does not support higher taxes on the use of carbon which is causing the change. This sort of argument I would have hoped or expected from a party of the left. What I am doing as a representative of a Government and of a party of the centre is to say that we need to tackle climate change and to respond to a crisis with a measure that is difficult for many but has to form a central part of that response. That is why there is only one way to vote on this amendment and on the measures that are contained in this budget on carbon tax, if one supports doing the right thing by generations to come.

I thank the Minister but we are over time now. Deputy Mattie McGrath will be the first back in as he proposed the amendment but we have run out of time as there are less than two seconds left. I will be bringing the guillotine down in exactly two minutes, so if Deputy McGrath wishes to come back in as the proposer, he may do so.

Ní bheidh mé ach nóiméad amháin.

I will be stopping the Deputy on his feet in less than two minutes.

I will only take a minute or half a one. The lecture here from the Minister about being a party from the centre tells me that he is reading too many cartoons. He does not know what the centre is. His party is so far right it cannot see its left. With any proposal we have put forward here we have been treated with disdain and lecture and sometimes with pretty hostile and demonising language towards us. We are entitled to represent our people and he will not stop us doing so. I am calling a vote on this amendment No. 72.

Is the amendment being pressed?

Yes, but I will allow time to my colleagues.

I want to ask the Minister-----

There are a whole list of speakers on this second round and I am very sorry. Amendment No. 72 is being pressed now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 51; Níl, 77; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Michael Collins; Níl, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers.
Amendment declared lost.

As the time permitted for this debate has expired, I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of 1 December 2020: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Finance and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; Fourth Stage is hereby completed; and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 49; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Question declared carried.

This Bill, which is certified to be a money Bill in accordance with Article 22.2.1° of the Constitution, will be sent to the Seanad.