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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 9 Mar 2022

Vol. 1019 No. 4

Financial Resolution: Excise

On a point of order, earlier today we had a bit of an issue with our networks going down. Such an event causes pressure on days like this when we are trying to introduce a financial resolution late in a day with limited deadlines for amendments. Obviously we then put serious pressure on staff in the Bills Office to turn them into properly drafted amendments. There is an issue with the amendments that have been issued. I understand the Bills Office is correcting this at present. I am asking for a 20-minute recess.

I support this and I thank the staff. I have not seen sight of the books. I do not blame the staff. This has been so rushed and there is so little time. I support the call for a recess. I know it means we will sit later but it is necessary in fairness to everybody.

I thank the Deputies. In light of the crash of the servers today and in recognition of the problem that was created, I will grant a recess of ten minutes if that is acceptable to the Deputies.

I am not sure that ten minutes will allow the Bills Office to deal with the issue. If it is not, we can suspend for a further ten minutes.

Cuireadh an Dáil ar fionraí ar 7.55 p.m. agus cuireadh tús leis arís ar 8.24 p.m.
Sitting suspended at 7.55 p.m. and resumed at 8.24 p.m.

I move:

(1) THAT for the purposes of the tax charged by virtue of section 95 of the Finance Act 1999 (No. 2 of 1999), that Act be amended, with effect as on and from 10 March 2022, by substituting the following for Schedule 2 to that Act (as amended by section 42 of the Finance Act 2021 (No. 45 of 2021)):

For those who are filling up their cars at this time, conscious of what the rising price of fuel could mean for them, for their families and for their living standards, particularly after all that we have gone through with this pandemic, this will offer help of between €9 and €12 on that tank full of petrol or diesel. I know that since these measures were announced changes have taken place in the price of energy. I accept that in the coming period we will see further developments that will have a further difficult impact on many as we see further changes in the price of energy. The measures the Government is introducing aim to offer help. The cost of a tank of fuel will be €9 to €12 less due to the changes we are making in excise duty in this financial resolution.

These reductions aim to get the balance right between trying to give help to many at a time when they really need it, recognising that we will have other challenges within our economy and other obligations that we will need to meet that will also require additional funding, while at the same time allowing the Government to continue to make progress on the issues that mattered to very many before the consequences of the war in Ukraine. We are looking to get the balance right between both those imperatives. At the same time, I need to introduce measures which respect the minimum rates that are allowable under the European Union energy tax directive.

The revenue impact of a six-month decrease in the excise duty on these fuels will have a cost to the Exchequer of €320 million. By budgetary standards this is a very large commitment of the country's money to respond to this challenge. However, it is very important that we do what we can to make a difference by offering this help. This €320 million over the coming months will reduce the cost of a tank of petrol or diesel by €9 to €12 at a time when the Government knows further changes are likely.

I will now speak to the amendments tabled by the Opposition. Amendments have been tabled by Sinn Féin and the Rural Independent Group. Deputy Doherty's amendment seeks a 34 cent reduction in mineral oil tax on petrol and a 25 cent reduction on diesel. The amendment also seeks to remove carbon tax on kerosene until 1 May. The Deputy is also looking for a report on the impact of these measures.

The amendment from the Rural Independent Group seeks a 58 cent reduction in tax on petrol and a 45 cent reduction on diesel. The amendment also seeks to suspend all the carbon tax from tonight and to cut VAT on energy products to 5%.

Many of the measures that have been tabled here this evening are not possible to implement. A reduction in excise duty of 25 cent for diesel, as proposed by Deputy Doherty, would not be consistent with the minimum rate set out in the energy tax directive. The combined effect of the measures I have announced today along with this scheduled 1 cent reduction to offset the biofuel obligation scheme increase and also to recognise the impact of the diesel rebate scheme means that any further excise reduction would bring the effective rate below the minimum permissible rate.

Furthermore, the reductions for petrol and diesel proposed by the Rural Independent Group would bring the rates for both fuels below the minimum rates that are allowable under the energy tax directive. What does this directive do? The directive sets out the minimum levels of taxation that are applicable to these energy products for specific fuel usages. For diesel that is used as a propellant, the minimum rate equates to 33 cent a litre. For petrol it is 35.9 cent per litre. In the change I am making for diesel, I am taking the excise duty that is due on diesel down to the lowest level currently permissible under the energy tax directive.

The Sinn Féin amendment would remove the carbon tax on kerosene until 1 May. The Rural Independent Group amendment would remove the carbon tax on all fuels until the impacts of the energy crisis are fully understood and an economic evaluation is published and laid before the Oireachtas.

The subject of carbon taxation was debated at length in this House in recent weeks. I again make the case, which I accept as a difficult case to make in an environment where we are seeing the cost of energy continue to increase, that carbon taxation has a valuable role to play particularly in an energy environment where we are not seeing prices increase at the speed they are now, in gradually over time changing the decisions that transport users and businesses make with regard to the use of fuels and the types of fuels they use and also at the same time creating the money and resources needed to invest in a lower-carbon future. That is the case I have made to this House in the past with regard to carbon taxation.

Particularly relevant to the debate we are having tonight is to be clear about the impact of the increases in carbon taxation on the changes in fuel prices. For example, this month one year ago the average petrol price was €1.36 per litre. As the House is well aware, in many places that price has gone over €2 per litre over the past 24 hours.

The additional taxation due the increase in carbon taxation is 2 cent. While I acknowledge the increase in the price of energy at the moment is having an effect for many people, the change in carbon taxation is having a small impact on the total price. It is a very small contributor to changes that are under way. It is 2 cent on the price of a litre of petrol of all of the changes that are taking place at the moment. The narrative that has been brought forward by some that the increase in carbon taxation is the main reason for changes in the price of fuel is incorrect. It does a disservice to the role that carbon taxation may yet play in helping us to avoid even greater climate chaos in the future. It is also a small contribution to the total level of change taking place at the moment. I say again that it is 2 cent at a time when we have seen the price of petrol increase beyond the €2 per litre mark.

That said, of course I accept that it is a cause of concern to many in the House at a time when we are seeing so much change happening in the price of fuel. The role of taxation in contributing to that is something that this House will debate. I know some in the Opposition will look to change it. However, this taxation in turn is funding the public services that Members of this House again and again say we need more of and a higher quality of. The tax yield from excise duty on fuel is more than €2 billion per year. That is €2 billion per year that is helping to pay for our nurses, doctors and teachers. It is €2 billion a year that not only makes a contribution to paying for the public services that we need now, but is an invaluable contribution in the context of the challenges that the Irish economy may yet need to confront, challenges which we will overcome and over which we will prevail.

My final point relates to a core theme of the amendments tabled with regard to VAT.

As some in the House will be aware, Ireland has retained its historical application of one of the reduced rates of VAT, 13.5%, to a range of services. They include the supply of fuel, gas, oil and electricity. Under the directive, the rate applicable to such services can be maintained but cannot be reduced below 12%. If it is reduced below that level, even on a temporary basis, we face the prospect of losing the derogation of the reduced rate and having to return to the higher standard rate of 23%. I say that in the context of the various amendments brought forward, which the Dáil will debate.

I wish to go back to the opening points I made in framing the economic context of the resolutions being brought forward. As I said, we are, as a country, in the early days of having to understand the economic consequences of a war that is taking place, accelerating and changing forces that were already under way in the global economy. However, if we are in the early days of understanding what their long-term impact will be, we now know their impact on the lives of those who are experiencing the change in the price of diesel and all other fuels. We may need to deal with many other challenges and consequences as a result of this war. We now have changes taking place in the cost of energy, which we know are having an effect on many at present. I have underscored that throughout my contribution. We know that those changes are a cause of concern and anxiety to employers and those who depend on their cars to commute to work or to go to school. We appreciate the impact that that is having, but the forces behind that change are due to a war that is taking place which, in turn, is affecting the price of energy. We can help with and play a role in alleviating some of that cost. We are doing so by bringing forward measures in this financial resolution that, when the Dáil adopts it this evening, will help with the price of a tank of diesel or petrol by between €9 and €12. Many will want that difference to be greater, but it is a help and will make a difference. We do this in the context of many other challenges to which we may yet need to rise and to which the Government may yet need to fund responses. Just as we cannot insulate ourselves from the humanitarian consequences of what is happening, we cannot suggest this evening that we can insulate ourselves fully from the economic consequences of what is happening.

We understand the challenge. The Government understands the difficulty so many face. We can help with it. We want to help and, through the resolution that has been brought forward, we are aiming to make that difference while also readying ourselves for other consequences and other challenges that may approach and that this country, with, I hope, the support of this Dáil, will yet be able to overcome.

I move amendment No. 2:

In Schedule 2, inserted by paragraph (1), by the substitution of the following for the row dated 10 March 2022:

10 March 2022

€359.00

€474.11

€330.00

€413.51

€413.51

€0.00

€118.01

€120.55

€118.27

€54.68

€9.36

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this financial resolution on the cost of fuel, a price spike that is causing significant distress and worry in households throughout the country. It is what people are talking about in the shops and in their homes. It is what people want action from the Government on. I recognise the economic conditions we face, the source of the price spikes we are experiencing and what the Government can and cannot do. In the past two years we have lived through a global pandemic and a bout of post-pandemic inflation caused by a combination of supply chain bottlenecks and a rise in energy prices. Now we see a war in eastern Europe, following the brutal and inhumane invasion by Russia of Ukraine. The consequences of this war, in lives lost and land ruined and disputed, cannot be put into words. Our primary duty is to provide whatever humanitarian assistance we can to Ukraine and all the assistance we can to those fleeing Ukraine and coming to this shore seeking refuge and solace. Sinn Féin fully supports the sanctions regime that has been put in place to frustrate and to undermine Putin's illegal war. The consequences of this war in economic terms are also immense. A massive energy and commodity producer is at war and has been effectively shut out from the global economy through sanctions. This, together with the inevitable disruption that has occurred, has resulted in huge spikes in energy and commodity markets. Increases in the price of wheat, fertiliser and even palm oil will have massive implications for citizens, economies and states throughout the world. Previously unseen spikes in the oil, gas and electricity market are already being felt along every link in the chain, from the wholesale market right down to the consumer. We recognise the source of these price rises and recognise that no government can fully insulate or protect households against what may be about to come. We have never claimed as much. What we do know, what this House knows and what this party knows, is that governments, including this Government, have a responsibility to do everything they can to mitigate the effects of these price rises on ordinary people and to use every single measure at their disposal to push the boat out to the very edge. That is the priority of Sinn Féin. That is our focus this evening. That is what these amendments before us are about. They are about doing what is possible, legal and permissible at this point in time.

This financial resolution deals exclusively with excise as it is levied against fuel. Before I address this, I wish to say it is clear that the Government must deliver a comprehensive package of measures to assist and to support households. As I said, not two months ago we faced post-pandemic inflation that was already reducing the spending power of workers and families. The Government responded with an electricity credit that provided the same level of financial support to a millionaire, for example, as it did to a worker on the minimum wage. We needed targeted measures at that point and we need them more than ever now. Yes, we need to see reductions beyond what the Government is talking about in respect of excise on petrol, diesel and home heating oil, but we also need to see targeted cost-of-living cash payments delivered to families and individuals on low and middle incomes. We need to see real action from the Government for many of the 300,000 renters who are feeling the pinch even more now because of other factors, not only rent. There therefore has to be a rent cut and a freeze on rent increases for the next three years. We need to see support for families, particularly those with young children. That is why we can and must cut the cost of childcare. Those who depend on social welfare payments as their only income need to see support at this time. That is why we need to see social welfare increases. Fuel is on the tip of everybody's tongue at this time, whether it is heating your home or being able to get from A to B by putting diesel or petrol in your car. We also need to expand the fuel eligibility criteria in order that more and more people are able to benefit from the fuel allowance.

Going back to the resolution before us, I welcome the fact that we are having this debate. Yesterday, when my party leader, Deputy McDonald, raised this issue, the Taoiseach did not indicate, at least at that time, that this was the proposal that was coming. I heard the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, say that whatever he does, we will just complain and say it does not go far enough. The difference is that we actually made the proposal first. We showed our cards before the Minister even suggested he was going to cut excise duty on fuel, including diesel and petrol. He has decided not to do anything about home heating oil, and I will come back to that in a minute. The Minister did say that a 25 cent reduction at the pumps in respect of diesel is not consistent with the energy tax directive. That is not true. It is consistent with the energy tax directive. What it would potentially fall foul of is the rebate. The Minister knows fine well that we need not only to ensure that hauliers and transport operators are able to benefit from that 7.5 cent rebate but that all of society is able to do so. There would be a way to do that to make sure that everybody sees that 25 cent reduction if there were a willingness. The Minister also said that this is the edge of where he can go. That is not true. Hauliers could benefit, through the reduction we have put forward, by 2.5 cent more than what the Government is proposing, inclusive of the rebate, so there are ways to do this. Most important, millions of people who depend on travelling in a car to get from A to B will also be able to benefit from this reduction, so it does not just benefit transport operators and hauliers.

That is why yesterday we had our homework done. We know the limits and what can be done in respect of cutting diesel prices within the rules at this time. It is 25 cent.

On petrol, the Government has far more scope to reduce prices but has decided not to. It has decided not to reduce petrol prices by the 34.1 cent that is permissible under the European tax directive. The Minister has never suggested, in fairness to him, that the Government does not have the ability to go further. It has made a conscious decision not to give the additional support to those individuals and families who are hard-pressed. Sinn Féin is saying that we need to push the boat out and do everything we can. Let us bear in mind the price of diesel we see on many forecourts. In Letterkenny in my home county of Donegal, it was €2.20 per litre last night. God knows what it will be tomorrow morning. In Wicklow, prices of €2.32 have been seen. That is a €1 increase since this time last year. The State, on the back of that increase, takes approximately 20 cent in additional VAT on every litre. The Minister is only giving back 15 cent. That is not the response we need at a time of huge pressure and a massive burden on families and individuals.

This is the straw that will break many people and homes. It is a particular issue in rural Ireland, where we do not have the same infrastructure that many urban areas have. People need a car to make that longer commute to a job or to get to the supermarket, shop, doctor or hospital. All of that means having to put diesel or petrol into the car. There were rumours, and we knew this for a while. The Minister was going to wait until it hit €2. They were telling me in my county yesterday morning, as I was saying to Deputy McGrath, that petrol was going to increase by 20 cent overnight. It has happened in many other areas as well because they bought the fuel a number of days in advance. This is when the reduction kicks in. We need to reduce it as far as possible.

An option has been put before the House by Sinn Féin. Let us get petrol down to the cheapest level we can at this point. That is only the start because we need to do other things. Let us reduce it by 34.1 cent rather than the 20 cent the Government is talking about. Let us get diesel down by 25.3 cent rather than the 15 cent the Government is talking about. That is legally permissible. We can do that and we should be supporting it tonight. Is that enough? Absolutely not. It still leaves families in Blessington paying nearly €2 for a litre of diesel and families in Donegal paying €1.90 for a litre of diesel. That is not sustainable. We recognise, and the Minister alluded to it, that it is likely that the trends in petrol and diesel will continue to increase. None of us knows for sure where this market is going, but that is likely. That is why it can only be the first step of our response.

I feel and have said numerous times that the Government is out of touch. If Government Deputies understood the frustration of people and the impact this is having on them, they would have come up with a proposal that reduced petrol prices to the greatest extent possible. However, they decided not to. They would also have reduced the cost of diesel to the greatest extent possible and engaged with European partners on the VAT directive when we were talking to the Minister in committee in September about that. However, my understanding is that such the request was never made concerning VAT on energy and fuel products. The Government always reacts late in the day when the crisis is hitting.

I recognise that the war with Russia is driving up these prices but we need to recognise that, separately, this time last year the price of diesel was €1.30. By November, it had gone up by 30 cent. Inflation and costs were increasing. We need to look at that and at the exemptions that can be got out of the energy tax directive because we need a second package of supports to drive prices down and keep the price of petrol and diesel as reasonable as possible.

I listened to the Taoiseach speak about home heating oil. It is not the first thing the Taoiseach got wrong. We can ensure that we reduce the cost of diesel and petrol more than is suggested. The Taoiseach stated this morning that there is no excise duty on home heating oil. The Minister has not made such a statement because we know excise duty is mineral oil tax. Indeed, the motion before us relates to mineral oil tax. In relation to kerosene, the most commonly used home heating oil, the tax on 1,000 l is €84.84. The Minister wants us to vote on something we have already voted on, namely, for home heating oil to increase by more than €20 on 1 May. That is the response before the House despite the fact that, on 1 January, costs were already inflated: 1,000 l of home heating oil sold at €700. Today, the price in Dublin is €1,880. People have not budgeted for that €1,000 increase.

I do not understand how the Government or the Cabinet can have seen the price of home heating oil go through the roof and rise by about €1,000 in the past 12 weeks and decide to do nothing and not to take away excise tax. That tax will by 1 May be in the region of €118; currently, inclusive of VAT it is approximately €95. It is a small portion of the overall increase but is a relief that can be provided tonight to people who want to keep their homes warm. The Government decided not to do that. It decided to put forward a motion to see that price increase by over €20 on 1 May in the form of the carbon component of mineral oil tax. That is shocking, and an example of a Government that is collectively out of touch. It is not just the Cabinet Ministers but, I assume, the backbenchers who will come here tonight and decide to do nothing about the skyrocketing price of home heating oil. They will do worse than that: they will vote through an increase in home heating oil in the coming weeks. That is the wrong direction.

Following on from the greatest hits where the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, told us in rural Ireland that we should share a car between the village, he now tells us to slow down when driving. The people of Ireland are sick, sore and tired of a Government that does not get it, that is out of touch and that always does too little, too late. We need a Government that responds to real needs here and now. If we do not do that, will we sit back and allow people to pay €2.20 or €2.30 at the petrol pump for the next number of weeks? What impact will that have on families and communities? That cannot be allowed to happen.

We need to push the boat out in terms of what can be done tonight. That can be done in the form of Sinn Féin's amendments to reduce petrol and diesel by the maximum amount, get excise off home heating oil and engage with our European partners to deal with the issue of VAT to allow for other tools and exemptions allowed under the energy tax directive in terms of social issues. That is what is needed and what would be done by an active Minister for Finance and Government that get it and that recognise that the crisis visited upon us by foreign actors and being felt by individuals here and now. The Minister should support Sinn Féin's amendments, as should everybody in the House.

I am pleased that the Minister and Deputy Doherty placed on the record the primary reason we are debating these important issues, that is, as a consequence of the illegal war and occupation of Ukraine. Our primary responsibility must be for the people of Ukraine. They are the victims of Putin's war. We need at all times to have their concerns at the top of our agenda. We in this House also have a responsibility to the people we represent for the management of economic affairs in this country. It is clear that, even before war broke out in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis was biting hard.

The Government's response to date has, frankly, been anaemic and meagre. This is biting. Additionally, we have the consequences of energy price increases and the inevitable food price increases that we will see arising as a result of the war in Ukraine. Any efforts to reduce the price of fuel at the pumps is to be commended. As the Minister made clear in his earlier contribution, the Exchequer raises approximately €2 billion each year, and has done so over the last year, from excise duty on fuel. It is a not insignificant proportion of the revenue required to run our public services. As I said, however, any effort to reduce the price of fuel at the pumps is welcome. It may be a cliche but these measures do not go far enough to address the genuine concerns of ordinary householders, working families and small businesses regarding the ever-escalating price of diesel and other fuels.

We have all seen images from across the country and from our constituencies, especially during the last 24 hours, showing large hikes in the prices of diesel and petrol, literally overnight, in anticipation of tonight's excise duty cuts. The polite word I would use to describe these practices is "cynical". In the Certa station in my area, the price went up 20 cent per litre overnight, as it did in several forecourts in the east Meath area as well. Those companies put the price up today and will pocket the profits from that increase. In the morning, they will try to tell us that fuel is cheaper because of the reduction in excise duty. This price increase has nothing to do with any movement in the wholesale price of fuel over the last 24 hours. This is profiteering at its worst. It is deeply cynical. There is a special place in hell for individuals and companies deliberately setting out to profit as a consequence of war and we must be mindful of that. In that final analysis, this is what I think is going on here in many, but not all, circumstances. These are mercenary practices and must be investigated. If any sense results from such an investigation that any form of collusive price-fixing is going on here regarding the cost of fuel and these kinds of peculiar rises that we have seen recently, then the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, CCPC, must throw the proverbial book at the offending operations.

In his interview during the "Six One" news, I noted that the Minister said his intervention will mean that prices will rise less and that is a telling comment. I know the Minister cannot guarantee what the wholesale price of fuel will be on the markets at any time in the future. Things are so volatile now that I would not expect him to do so. We can all expect, however, given what is happening in Ukraine and the volatility internationally, to see significant price rises in the cost of diesel and other fuels in the weeks and months to come, notwithstanding the efforts being made by the Minister. I presume the Minister expects this as well.

Can the Minister therefore put on the record what other measures he feels he has in his toolbox that he will be able to deploy against these ever-rising and escalating price increases and the impact they will have on our everyday lives and on the cost of making ends meet for families across the country? To me, there is a short- and medium-term solution that the Minister could consider to control the price of fuel at the pumps. The Minister could deploy the provisions of section 61 of the Consumer Protection Act 2007 and introduce a maximum price order. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, seemed to suggest earlier today that it is not possible to undertake price controls and that the State does not have the capacity to introduce price controls. The 2007 Act, however, states it can be done. In my experience, section 61 of the 2007 Act has never been deployed, but these are extraordinary times and it is a matter of political will. For the benefit of colleagues across the House, the relevant provision of section 61(1), entitled "State of emergency affecting supply of the product", reads: “If the Government are of the opinion that abnormal circumstances prevail or are likely to prevail in relation to the supply of a product, the Government may by order (“emergency order”) declare that a state of emergency affecting the supply of that product exists”. That is something the Government should consider and something it ought to be considering. I wish to hear from the Minister why he is not considering this measure at this abnormal time of emergency.

Earlier as well, I heard the Minister say that one of the reasons he may not consider this possibility is because we are so dependent on external supply. If the Minister decided to introduce price caps, that could of course be kept under review. As I said, section 61 of the 2007 Act has never been deployed. These are abnormal circumstances, however, and the kind the legislation anticipated. They are the type of abnormal circumstances that the Act may refer to. The provisions of the 2007 Act should be used to stabilise petrol and diesel prices. The measures should be kept under review and the impact and effect of any price cap should be reviewed in the normal course of events.

Regarding bus companies engaged by the Department of Education to operate the school transport programme, this matter was mentioned to me earlier by my colleague, Deputy Sherlock. I am happy to raise it with the Minister now because it affects every constituency, and especially rural constituencies. These small bus firms are on fixed-price contracts. They may find some genuine difficulties in making ends meet if they must adhere to those particular terms and circumstances. Does the Government envisage any help being provided for those small firms? The Minister might elaborate on this point.

Turning to another issue, the ESB is making supernormal profits and recorded a similar level of profits last year. Will the Government be requesting additional dividends from the ESB this year? If so, will those dividends be ring-fenced and returned to the families across Ireland who need this support the most?

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I acknowledge that the topic we are speaking about is an issue which has been created for us due to the horrific events abroad in the context of Russia invading Ukraine. It comes on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, which added increased costs to and more issues for businesses throughout the country. This crisis comes at a bad time for those affected by the impacts of Covid-19. We are now entering into a time when it is not possible to predict the price of diesel and petrol. Farmers are in the same boat and cannot predict anything. Those who need to buy diesel cannot do so because they cannot get quotations. The Government's proposal is a step in the right direction but quite frankly, as most of the public would say, it is not enough. We must consider the impact of this measure, if it has one, on a rolling basis because petrol and diesel prices are going up all over the country even as we talk about this issue. A Europe-wide effort must be made to deal with the issues confronting our different sectors.

Turning to the haulage sector, which is my background, I have never had as many calls from hauliers from all over the country to tell me how bad it is in respect of the price of diesel, the ordering of diesel and the extra expense being put on them to such an extent that they cannot cope. It is likewise with the cost of petrol. People are telling me, and I can see this for myself, that going to work in rural Ireland is completely different because we do not have a public transport system. Those people are looking to the Government to take far greater action than what is being contained in this proposal.

I am also concerned about older people in society, those who are already pushed to the pins of the collars and unable to meet the extra costs of heating their homes. They must therefore make the choice between cutting down on what they eat or heating their homes. That is a fact. Like most people in this House, and I am sure it is the same for the Minister in his constituency office, I have never had as many phone calls from the public as I have had today.

They are expressing deep anger and frustration that there is not a plan beyond this to deal with the matters that have arisen and are likely to arise out of this war.

As we plan and make decisions here, we are not working in real time. Already the impact of these high costs have been carried by businesses and households, including people in fuel poverty. That has happened. They have paid a price up to now and they are looking to the Government for a real price reduction, whether it is in VAT or excise duty. It is in the hands of Europe to control the different rates. Europe should be coming to the table not tomorrow but today. We should be making the decision with our European partners to bring down the prices even further. We will not be thanked for not having a plan in the course of the next few weeks, and this measure will not be enough.

I have seen on forecourts domestic users of heating oil filling tiny tanks that they can carry back to their homes to heat them. How long more can that be sustained and how long will we stand back, to a degree, and not give the type of response that the public wants? Deputy Doherty mentioned backbenchers and what they can do. Within our own parliamentary parties the argument goes on about all of this. It is not just here in the Dáil Chamber. We hear about this from our constituents just as much as the Deputy does. I will go along with this decision this evening based on the fact it is a change in the right direction.

I have heard that a big firm in Carlow is threatening to put employees on notice because it cannot order oil or diesel. The firm contributes to the construction industry so if it is affected and goes on short notice, supply into the construction industry will also be affected. There would be a knock-on effect right across the economy that we cannot ignore. Neither can we ignore that businesses on high streets are also suffering; having suffered during Covid-19 they are suffering now as well.

Representatives of the Irish Road Haulage Association met the Minister and they will give the clear facts on the ground. Members here, meanwhile, will give clear facts on the ground regarding what households experience. Bearing in mind all of this, I want to see more done and Europe more involved with this. I want to see a more rounded response from the Government on this. There is no doubt this motion will be supported this evening but the Minister needs a plan for tomorrow and next week.

I welcome this initiative by the Government to tackle the skyrocketing rate of inflation we are witnessing, as all consumers are right across the globe. It should be recognised by all Members of this House that this is yet another constructive measure by this Government to assist those struggling individuals, households and businesses at this difficult time. Everyone is affected, not least those on low income and social welfare.

For those in jeopardy of falling into a poverty trap, this year's budget, which was announced just last October, contained more than €1 billion in significant tax and social welfare measures to assist those middle- and low-income earners. Those measures were recognised by the Economic and Social Research Institute as progressive but I would be first to say they cannot be stand-alone measures and they must be kept under constant review over the coming weeks and months.

It is true to say that nobody could have foreseen what the world would be facing in early 2022 last October, with the rate of inflation far exceeding what was anticipated at that time. The worry at that time was simply the post-pandemic supply chain disruption and inflationary cycle. Sadly, as we exit the pandemic, we are confronted with the invasion of a sovereign state of Ukraine, which presents many challenges not only to Ireland but to other nations too. It presents challenges on several fronts domestically from a humanitarian, educational, energy, health, food and financial perspective. As was said last October and earlier today as well, this volatile inflationary period in which we are currently locked is being kept under review by the Government, which I welcome. All levers of the economy are being examined and they should be kept under constant review. It is not good enough for some Members of the House to just use sound bites. We need solutions and we need the Opposition and the Government to work collaboratively.

Last week, President Higgins signed into law the legislation for the emergency benefit scheme for electricity costs. That will see an important package of more than €500 million to allow for a €200 energy credit for more than 2.1 million homes across the State, along with a much-needed lump sum payment of €125 for those in receipt of fuel allowance. Tonight, the Government is bringing forward a €320 million package on excise that will see, if it is passed this evening, a price reduction in petrol, diesel and marked gas oil from tomorrow until at least Wednesday, 31 August.

The public expects the Members of this House to work together. We are at an early stage of an extremely volatile time internationally and it is incumbent on all Deputies to work together and do what we can. We must try to quell the inflationary cycle we are in and the Government must work with all Deputies. Price gouging and any profiteering must be investigated. Those steps must be taken sooner rather than later.

Families, workers, farmers and small businesses have all been struggling with the cost of living for months or years even. They have struggled with rents, childcare, insurance and mortgage interest, and Irish workers have paid among the highest costs and rates in Europe for some time now. Added to this, electricity, heating and fuel costs have steadily risen over the past year, leading to a cost-of-living crisis becoming evident by the beginning of this year. That crisis has now become a cost-of-living emergency. Those workers, families, farmers and businesses are now facing challenges beyond anything they have ever experienced.

Since last September I have raised concerns about input costs for farmers with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, and his Government. Since January, the Minister has been responding to my appeals for action on farm costs with promises of appropriate solutions but they have yet to materialise. Just two weeks ago, the Government rejected Sinn Féin's motion to scrap the carbon tax increase that is due in May. Rather than taking action on farm input costs and addressing the new supply crisis resulting from the criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine, our agriculture Minister was out flying kites about all farmers growing grain, which is a very ill-thought out solution. He finally pulled together farm organisations last night and we were all eager to hear his proposals but he did not have any. Instead, all the Government is offering to family farmers is a 2 cent per litre cut on agricultural diesel, which is insulting.

What is required now is leadership from the Government and real supports to allow farmers help us meet an emerging international food shortage, which will lead to a substantial increases in grocery bills. What we need are real supports to help our families and workers get through the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, what did we get from the biggest cheerleader of increased costs on Irish families? The Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, suggested that people should drive more slowly. I hope time will be made available to allow the Minister, Deputy Ryan, come before the House to inform farmers of what speed precisely they should drive their tractors in order to reduce their fuel costs.

Tonight, ultimately, the Government Deputies will have yet another opportunity to finally be on the side of workers, families, businesses and farmers. Otherwise, they can again prove that this Government is out of touch, out of ideas and, increasingly, running out of road.

The job of every Deputy is to come to the Dáil Chamber and tell the story of what their constituents are going through. It is about representing the real-life experience of their constituents. In Donegal, at least two thirds of the homes have home heating oil as their fuel source for domestic heating. The Government has no proposal to reduce those costs.

A year ago, people could get 1,000 litres of oil to fill a tank for approximately €600.

Today, it is at least double that. An oil tank has to be filled up a number of times every year in order to heat a home. This is disastrous for ordinary families in places like rural Donegal and in towns and villages across that county. We also have a public transport deficit in Donegal. Those who want to get an education or earn a living have to have a car. It is an absolute necessity; it is not a luxury. They are being absolutely hammered. I have been inundated with stories recently from families telling me about the impact for them to get to work or a place of education every day. They have to make hard choices in their home. Do they go to work? Do they heat the home? How do they pay for the kids? They have to make all those decisions.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine we had a cost-of-living crisis that was growing and growing. Of course, it has become even more disastrous since the invasion happened. The response of the Government in the motion tonight is unacceptable. The Minister knows this benefit was wiped out overnight before people could even get it. We need to know what the Government is doing at European level to look at the whole issue of VAT. Why is it not addressing the home heating oil issue? It is an absolute insult to people in places like Donegal that it is not being addressed. Will the Minister, for God's sake, talk to the Minister for Transport and tell him to cop himself on and not to be lecturing people in rural Ireland about sharing cars and slowing down? Really, that is not what people in rural Ireland need to hear from any Government Minister tonight.

I welcome that the Government has finally decided to act to cut fuel prices but this marginal reduction in excise duty does not go far enough. A simple look at the prices in forecourts today will tell the Minister that. The reality is that a maximum price cap on fuel must be introduced to stop unsustainable increases in prices. It is the only way the Government can ease the burden on ordinary workers and families in the short term. The level of price increase in recent weeks has been relentless, excessive and shocking, and there appears to be no let-up. Last night, when the Government announced it was cutting excise duty by 15 cent and 20 cent per litre for diesel and petrol, respectively, that saving was quickly gobbled up. Some petrol stations, including in my county of Wicklow, immediately put up their prices by that amount, wiping out any potential savings for customers. What does the Government have to say about this? Nothing; it is just wringing its hands. This really underscores a central problem with the plan. The Government has no way to ensure that any excise cuts are passed on to consumers. Even if the savings were passed on, they would soon be outstripped by price increases that are yet to come.

We all know that due to the barbaric Russian invasion of Ukraine, global energy supply is extremely unstable and prices are fluctuating wildly. The price of fuel is increasing exponentially and will continue to increase, at least in the short term. If the Government is serious about providing relief for ordinary workers, families and businesses, it must implement measures that can work and that will work for longer than just a few hours. This means capping the prices for consumers at a maximum level and using reductions in excise duty and VAT to sustain the prices at that level.

The Taoiseach has been at pains recently to point out that we are in unprecedented times, with a war in Europe for the first time since the Second World War, and that extraordinary measures must be contemplated as we rise to meet the challenge of this moment. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, particularly in the context of the need for an unprecedented humanitarian response. However, the Taoiseach cannot speak about unparalleled challenges and the need for unprecedented measures and then rely on supposedly immutable VAT rules to justify a failure to respond to this crisis on the scale that is required. EU VAT rules were framed during peace time. We are now dealing with a war that none of us had ever envisaged. The EU must show flexibility and ingenuity in how it deals with this to protect its citizens. If EU approval is needed before the Government acts on VAT then the Taoiseach must make the case for change in Europe tomorrow when he meets other EU leaders at Versailles. Peace time rules should not apply during war and extraordinary measures must be taken to insulate ordinary workers and families from Putin's price shocks.

I listened to the Minister's speech at the press conference earlier today when he announced the package. It was unfortunate that he used the opportunity to accuse the Opposition of engaging in cynical criticism of his plan. It was a trite and lazy accusation and just sought to paint Deputies on this side of the House as being somehow self-serving and duplicitous. I remind the Minister that it was his Government that first mooted a cap, essentially, on prices through the swing mechanism that was in the media this week when he briefed journalists. Using the swing mechanism, excise duty would be cut if prices went above a certain level and would increase if prices fell below that level. In the Dáil earlier, when my colleague, Deputy Shortall, asked the Taoiseach if a swing mechanism was still under consideration, he failed to answer. If the Government has abandoned this approach, it needs to come clean and say so.

The Government must also act on the reports of price gouging that have proliferated in recent weeks. Price increases in the main are due to geopolitical issues that go far beyond anyone's control in this country. However, there may be an element in this country seeking to profiteer on the disaster and manipulate prices even further upwards. Some of the pricing on forecourts today would suggest that is the case. If the Government does not want to do anything about allegations of price gouging, some part of the State apparatus should. I raised this with the Taoiseach yesterday and he agreed and said he was concerned about it, but there has been no action forthcoming. If the Government and Taoiseach are not prepared to take action, I will. I have written to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to ask that it investigate reports of cartel behaviour and price-fixing by motor fuel suppliers in the wholesale and retail markets. We cannot tolerate a situation whereby price gouging of ordinary workers and families who are already barely keeping their heads above water is allowed to continue in full view of everyone.

There are other actions the Government could take immediately. The 20% cut to public transport fares should be brought forward to encourage people out of their cars and to facilitate them to use public transport. The Government should also consider incentivising off-peak travel with further cuts in fares at off-peak times so that trams, trains and buses are not over capacity during rush hour. There are many areas in our country, particularly rural areas, that do not even have the option of public transport.

In the medium and long term, this crisis has underscored the need for us to wean ourselves off our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels. In that regard, I am very concerned at the slow pace of expanding our offshore wind capacity and retrofitting programmes. No Government has ever met the climate targets that have been set in this country. Successive Governments have failed to do what they promised when it comes to climate action. We have not seen a speeding up of the implementation of these things to date. The Government downplayed the decision last year of a huge global player, Equinor, to abandon its partnership in offshore wind projects with the ESB. Part of the reason for it doing so was our labyrinthine planning and regulatory framework. There has been little progress in reforming those processes. While the Maritime Area Planning Act has been passed, we are told that it will take at least another year to make provisions of that Act operable. Meanwhile, Ireland, which should be a global leader in offshore wind energy, is being left behind as companies decide to invest in other, better prepared jurisdictions.

If empty Government promises and jaded Ministerial rhetoric could generate power we would have no concerns about our energy supply. Alas, we need more than bombast and verbosity from the Government. We need it to put plans into action and actually do the work to credibly prepare us for a carbon-neutral future. In the interim, while we deal with this current crisis, we need an approach from Government that will reduce fuel prices for ordinary consumers and businesses. An excise duty cut which has already been reduced to nothing by soaring prices is not sufficient. I know there are Deputies sitting on the Government benches who agree with me on this. I appeal to them to act.

I am sharing time with Deputy Carroll MacNeill.

As many colleagues have said, we live in unprecedented and uncertain times. A friend of Europe and of Ireland has been invaded, the victim of a barbaric act and a barbaric dictator who has brought wanton and untold carnage on that country. Over the past number of days, we have seen a massive outpouring of humanitarian support and aid for the people of Ukraine, which is only right, just and proper. There are many analogies between Ireland and Ukraine, going back to the Famine when our population was decimated, with almost half our people lost either through death or forced emigration. Already in Ukraine, we have seen the forced mobilisation and movement across land of 2 million people in a matter of days. That situation is going to escalate and this war is undoubtedly impacting greatly on Europe. Notwithstanding our huge humanitarian response, it is unfortunate that it is needed and that the carnage and war across Europe will come with a price for us, as very much a European country.

I empathise with all the people who have contacted me. I have had the same types of telephone calls that Deputies on the Opposition benches are getting, including from farmers, hauliers, householders, single mothers and elderly people who are at their wit's end and wanting to know how they will make ends meet. It is very hard to take those calls but we have to do so and to try to reason with people. Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to do that. The response by the Government to date has been measured. I agree with Members opposite that it would be great if we could do much more. Notwithstanding the Opposition criticism, within the confines of what we can do legally within the European framework and under the legislation that is there, there is not much more that could have been done at this point. That is not to say we will not do more or that we do not need to do more. Already today, we have impressed upon the Taoiseach, when he goes to Europe, the need to speak to our European colleagues and look for the derogations and changes to the rules and regulations that will enable us to do a lot more. This is an unfolding crisis. It is going to get much worse over the coming days and weeks and it will impact on us much more. I thank the Minister for giving us a very informed and concise overview of what we have been able to do, and have done, within the confines of the rules.

I share Deputy Whitmore's concerns regarding price gouging. I grew up in a small community with parents who ran a small rural filling station. I know very well how important small shops and filling stations are to local communities. The actions of a handful of wholesalers, which are large multimillion euro businesses, have really caused division across rural Ireland and set neighbours against their local filling stations. Local people believe it is the station operator who has hiked up the price but that is not the case. It was done by this cartel - there is no other description for it - of five or six companies, which have capitalised on the wanton destruction of a country and the wanton carnage and victimisation of a people who did not ask for what has been delivered on them in recent days. We need to act on this. I have asked An Taoiseach and I ask the Minister now to ensure the CCPC and An Garda Síochána make it their business to make contact with these companies and seek access to their records for recent weeks and information on how they have engaged with the businesses they service and supply. It behoves us as legislators and as an Oireachtas to ensure no company or business can capitalise on the destruction, mayhem and carnage that have been visited on the people of Ukraine.

I thank Deputy Flaherty for sharing time. I did not think I would have the opportunity to speak but wanted to hear the contributions from colleagues. Today is a particularly important moment in the response to the current crisis. I very much hope this is the last of the measures necessary but I greatly fear it will not be and that this is an issue we will be discussing in the House for some time to come. It is a moment for real honesty with the Irish people about the nature and openness of our economy and our international dependence, including on foreign direct investment and the movement of trade. It is time for honesty about our international dependence on fossil fuels and fuel generally, the role of renewable energy, what we have done and what we have failed to do in that regard. There needs to be honesty about those who would object to future renewable energy generation and about our slowness in producing a real strategy for offshore floating wind energy, particularly in the Atlantic. We must be honest about our opportunity to store and sell that energy over time, our energy security into the future and how we can contribute to an energy solution, not just for ourselves but also for Europe. In particular, we need honesty on the risk of this land war and information war to our economy, our people and the European economy and people and on how realistic it is to expect to be insulated from that.

There also needs to be an honesty from Deputies making proposals about the capping of prices that there is a risk involved in that and a cost to it. It is fine to call for caps - indeed, these are discussions we all have both in private and public - but Members opposite need to be able to say in financial terms what it means for the State if a cap is imposed and who will pay for the difference. Given that we do not control the cost of energy coming into this State, if we choose to place a cap on it, who makes up the difference, how much is it going to be and from where will money be cut elsewhere to fund it? The measures announced tonight will cost approximately €380 million, which is a significant amount of money. Where is it going to come from in terms of other funding? As we go forward into the coming months, with the effect on our economy of this war and what it will mean for supply chains generally and economic activity, there is a real ongoing risk to our tax take. We need to be honest and upfront about that and what it means for the delivery of services over time.

We all very much hope the war ends as soon as possible but we have no real visibility on where this will go over time. There is an obligation to be serious and honest about the costs of any actions we propose. The measures we are discussing are necessary but the benefits are being eaten up very quickly by international energy prices and, as other Deputies have said, by a real risk of price gouging on the forecourts. Where that is happening, it is a cynical practice. The Government must take these measures and they will make a difference, albeit, I fear, a very short-term one. It is still important to do it. As we move forward, I hope this is the last of these conversations we need to have but I fear it will not be. We need to be honest with people over the coming months about the real effect of this war on the economy.

Workers and families are under intense pressure as a result of the spiralling cost of petrol, diesel and home heating oil, as are businesses, the economy and society as a whole. We all know the causes of these price spikes, which are fuelled by the brutal invasion of Ukraine. The Government can and must act to reduce prices for fuel and energy. We are experiencing a very fragile recovery that is already threatened by consistently higher prices than forecast and now the turmoil caused by the Russian attack on Ukraine.

This brutal attack has rightly provoked sanctions from the EU and others. An Taoiseach has reminded us on more than one occasion that these sanctions will not be cost-free for people living in the EU. Their impact must be considered on workers, families, businesses, the economy and our society. People must be protected, as must be hauliers, farmers and other businesses. It is not just the fuel crisis that poses a threat to workers, families and businesses. The rising costs of housing, rent, utilities and fuel, fuel shortages and possible fuel rationing and continued inflation and stagflation are also significant threats. The Government must do all it can to tackle these problems. My colleague, an Teachta Doherty, has outlined in detail the steps the Government can take this evening if it is minded to do so.

There is genuine concern among workers who will not be able to fill their cars to get to work no matter what speed they are travelling at. We have already heard concerns from workers who have been threatened with temporary lay-offs because of the impact of the spiralling costs. The Government should be seriously considering the reinstatement of the work-from-home advice because at least that would take some pressure off people who are genuinely worried about being able to put a fill of diesel in the car.

In north County Dublin, around 40% of the homes are heated using heating oil. The failure to reduce the cost of home heating oil is one of the meanest and nastiest decisions that has been taken in this House in recent times. An Teachta Doherty has tabled amendments that will, if accepted, reduce the cost of home heating. There are families who will sit in the cold, not have a warm shower and sit in misery because of the Government's decision. We have provided the Government with an alternative. It cannot say there is none; we have outlined it in detail.

This Government response is totally inadequate and insufficient. In the short time I have available to me, I want to make the case on behalf of the transport and logistics sector, the sector that keeps supply lines open and people and goods moving. It includes hauliers, private coach operators, school bus operators, coach tourism operators and taxi drivers. Businesses from the four corners of the State have been in contact with me in recent days crying out for support. A haulier in my county who has been drawing fresh food and vegetables for more than 25 years says he will finish up at the end of this week because fuel is beyond €1.70 per litre plus VAT, with promises of further increases. He uses 78,000 l per month but bases his prices on a cost of 95 cent per litre plus VAT. He cannot take it. He cannot pass the cost on to his customers and has no fuel surcharge. If more is not done on diesel prices, he will go to the wall. His business is family run and has 25 lorries and 40 employees.

Similarly, as of this week, a school bus operator in north Dublin is running at a loss. He signed a five-year contract with Bus Éireann in 2018 based on a cost of €1.37 per litre. Prices are now beyond €1.70 per litre plus VAT, with a 45 cent increase in one week alone. The operator says it is totally unsustainable and that the problem has come just when things were looking up after Covid.

In coach tourism, a contractor in Tipperary–Kilkenny signed contracts 18 to 24 months ago based on a rate of €1.29 per litre, allowing for an increase of 10 cent or 15 cent. Now, as we know, prices are in excess of €2 per litre, yet the Government is proposing to take just 15 cent off diesel. It went up 22 cent on the wholesale market yesterday. At best, the Government will bring diesel prices back to those of last Friday evening or Saturday morning. The businesses I have referred to are proud family businesses that provide employment in the four corners of Ireland. They are keeping Ireland moving but this is how they are treated. It is an absolute disgrace. To be clear about it, the Government is doing more on petrol than on diesel. The companies provide essential services. They run on diesel and do not have alternatives.

Considering the crippling increases people are seeing in the prices of petrol, diesel and, more generally, fuel and energy, the proposed measures are fairly pathetic. Taxi drivers, about whom I have talked to the Minister many times and who got very little during Covid, are a good example of how we are just going out of the Covid frying pan into the Ukrainian war fire, with its associated impact on ordinary people who have suffered a lot and will now suffer again because of the rising cost of fuel. The measure will go nowhere near compensating a group of people who have suffered massively over the past two years and got very little help. It is utterly piddling. For the people who, prior to the Ukrainian crisis, were reeling from the increases in the prices of home heating oil, electricity and gas, which have spiralled, the proposed measure does nothing at all. The prices are continuing to spiral.

We were consistent at the beginning in saying what we think should be done. We were alone in saying it a few months ago but I note that others are now starting to agree with us. There are powers in the Consumer Protection Act 2007 that could be used. We have said this repeatedly and have been dismissed repeatedly, but maybe, finally, this idea will be listened to. The powers in the Act allow the Government, in abnormal circumstances, to declare an emergency in the supply of particular items and to control their maximum price. If this is not the abnormal circumstance envisaged in the legislation when it was drawn up in 2007, I really do not know what is. The abnormal circumstances were very much present even before the Ukrainian crisis because we saw multiple increases in the prices of gas, oil and electricity.

Now, however, we have got another crisis on top of a crisis as a result of what is happening with Putin's bloody invasion of Ukraine. The Minister's officials briefed me along with a couple of other Deputies a few days ago on the potential impact on inflation and they said something quite shocking. I said it in here a couple of times but it has not got much of a hearing. I was genuinely shocked when the officials said the projected inflation rate prior to the Ukrainian war, which according to the EU was 4.6% for the coming year, would have another 4% added to it. Therefore, the Minister's officials told us they project a near doubling of inflation. Inflation heading towards 9%, and maybe higher, is very serious. It is serious if it is even close to that. Against that background, the measure proposed is not enough and is pathetic. The Government should use the emergency powers available to it. It would be a matter of a stroke of a pen for it to introduce the maximum caps.

The Minister says the goods are internationally traded but what is rather embarrassing for him to mention is that we get most of our gas from the Corrib field and can produce huge amounts of electricity ourselves, including renewable electricity and hydroelectricity. Owing to our decision to allow these to be traded at market prices and to give them away, in many cases to private companies, we are crucified. We do not have to be because we could nationalise them. We could take them back, run them on a not-for-profit basis and not sell them off to private developers or private energy companies that are willing to profiteer and are profiteering. That could be done on a European level. The Minister is going on and on about how great the European Union is and how it is now co-ordinating its actions in respect of Covid and the Ukrainian war. It seems we can do anything at this stage on an all-Europe basis. Is there any chance that the Minister, when meeting his European partners at the Versailles meeting to discuss the impact of the Ukraine crisis, might suggest to them that they could cap the price of energy and the profits being made by BP, Shell and all the rest of them, which profits have gone through the roof in the past year, even before the Ukrainian crisis, and which will go up more as a result of it? Shell's profits have risen in one year from €4.8 billion to €19 billion. It is incredible. BP's profits last year were the highest in eight years. It is making an absolute fortune.

Another irony, which I do not have time to ponder in all this, concerns how much the military and militarisation, on which the Minister is now promoting further expenditure as a response to the crisis, contribute to the consumption of these scarce energy resources and the global warming that is choking the planet.

Yet, the Government wants us to increase it more. Brown University in the US produced a report recently, pointing out that the biggest single source of greenhouse emissions in the world is the Pentagon. It is also the biggest single consumer of oil and petrol. As is the case in Europe or any of the big military powers, that vast majority of that is used to move troops and military forces around the place. Perhaps the Government could discuss how cutting back on militarisation and expenditure on war, weapons and armies might actually reduce the unnecessary consumption of fuel, reduce the damage being done to our environment and even make the world a slightly more peaceful place where we are not faced with the possibility of war in Europe.

Judging by what the Government plans to implement today, it is obvious that it is still intent on continuing with the relaxed attitude to addressing the crisis that families and businesses are facing right now. There is one particular identifier when it comes to this Government. It will hold out until the last minute, and when an action needs to be taken, it will always stop short of doing what people really need. While people are genuinely panicking out there, the Taoiseach is saying that he is prevented from making any further cuts to the cost of motor fuel, when we know that there is nothing stopping him from cutting it further. Sinn Féin proposed to reduce the cost of motor fuel and to peg it a reduced charge, but the Government is again waiting. It is dithering, as it is prone to do. Then it underdelivers and the people pay.

People know, and they have told me today, that half the measures the Government intends to introduce will be out of date even before they come into effect. I have heard of petrol stations that have said they will not be passing on the Government's cuts because of increased wholesale prices. Whatever the reason here, the fact is there is no longevity in the Government's cuts. This is urgent. People cannot wait any longer for the Government to stop hesitating and do something with real teeth. That is why we have submitted amendments. If the Government will not do it, we must try to force the Government to do it. One of our amendments seeks to reduce the cost of home heating oil by as much as €100 on a fill currently worth €1,000 by removing excise duty on home heating oil. To resist this amendment would be to deliver a cruel blow to many families out there who, even before the invasion of Ukraine, were making the choice between eating and heating their homes. More needs to be done.

The Government introduced budget 2022 which contained little more than token gestures. February's announcement was more of the same, but with one crucial difference. It directly insulted the people of rural Ireland by telling them they would get a reduction in public transport fares. What about the people of rural Ireland who have to drive everywhere? What about the people of rural Ireland who have farms to run, families to feed and households to support? They have to contend with less grain at increased cost, high fertiliser prices and no action is taken. The cost-of-living crisis facing people in rural Ireland is not going to be resolved by a reduction and cutting of fares in non-existent public transport. The challenge that this Government is facing is that it will not recognise what it is that workers and families need. Again, I appeal to the Government not to ignore the amendments that we have submitted today. We are standing up for the people. We are making proposals that are in their interest in the knowledge that they are going through the most difficult of times and need help with making ends meet. Contrary to the Taoiseach's claim, excise on diesel can be reduced by more than 15 cent. I want to remind everyone that the Dáil is not sitting next week. If measures are not taken today, people at the pin of their collars will be left waiting by the Government for weeks.

The Minister said earlier that it is so important that we make a difference. I agree with him, but what does his difference look like? What does the difference that he is bringing forward today look like? We know that it currently costs well over €1,000 to fill a tank of oil, and that cost is rising. There is nothing that the Minister has announced today that will make a difference to households that are struggling to heat their homes. In fact, the only difference they will see is an increase of almost €20 on a fill of oil from 1 May. The vast majority of people that I represent in counties Roscommon and Galway rely on home heating oil to heat their homes. There is no assistance for the vast majority of workers and families. The vast majority of workers do not qualify for the fuel allowance. If they work for more than 30 hours a week, they cannot access the exceptional needs payment, something that the Government has consistently pushed as an alternative and a support that is there for people. It is not. I again ask the Minister to look at establishing a discretionary fund to assist households and families with their heating costs. Another Government Deputy spoke today about those at risk of falling into a poverty trap as if they were saved by the recent budget, when so many are already in that poverty trap. Much focus has been put on the increases in social welfare in budget 2022. They are increases that followed after two years of no increases, and increases to social welfare payments where every single one of the working age weekly payments are set below the poverty line already. The Government speaks about these increases like it is doing these people a favour. The difference for farmers is a 2 cent reduction in the cost of green diesel when every output on the farm is through the roof and we are relying on them for food production. A reduction of 2 cent is meaningless. Lastly, I ask that a member of the Government sits down with the Minister for Transport. From suggesting cabbages in window boxes and carpooling in rural areas to asking people to slow down to keep more petrol or diesel in the tank, somebody needs to sit down and have a chat with him. I cannot convey the anger he has caused once again in rural communities.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

A lot of language has been bandied about today. Phrases such as "legally permissible" and "comply with EU directives" have been used. The most important point is the price gouging. The price gouging that is going on is the tax on tax from the Government. All of the Minister's colleagues today said that they would go along with his measures. The Government is actually robbing the people. As I said earlier today, Dick Turpin wore a mask. That is the price gouging that is going on. There is tax on tax. There is nothing new to be had from that the Minister is introducing except poverty. It pains me to stand here and think that no one in Government is listening to a word being said. Practical common sense is falling on deaf ears. I may have appeared engaged and exercised earlier, but for good reason. I have people from every walk of life contacting me, telling me that they can no longer afford to go to their chemotherapy appointment once a week because of the price of fuel. I will read a message that I received from a carer.

I am a home carer for the Irish Wheelchair Association. My contract is ten hours. Most weeks I work 35 to 40 hours. I get 23 cent a kilometer, but I do not get paid for my first or last call, nor do I get return mileage. If I get the client or the patient up in the morning, I cannot claim my mileage. I cannot go back to them to put them to bed. I work from the north of County Wexford to the south of County Wexford. My average mileage is 250,000 km per month, but I can only claim half of that. The cost of fuel has stopped me from doing what I regard as extra cover calls because I cannot afford to keep the car going. It is now costing me money to stay in my job. I cry a lot because I know that there are people left unchanged in soiled beds, unshowered and unfed because of this. I implore you, Verona, there will be no home carers left if something is not done. My six calls today will take me nine and a half hours with driving time between calls, but I only get paid for six hours. I do not get lunch, but that does not bother me. What does bother me is that I love my job; I simply cannot afford to keep doing it. Please, please do the right thing.

I will read another one.

Hi Verona, I am a private small bus operator with six buses. Fuel price increases have meant that bus costs have risen for each bus by €120 a week. The total increase is €720. My runs involve 200 families, which means an extra €36 per family, and rising week on week. My drivers want an increase because it is costing them more to travel to collect the bus. I am losing money. I cannot go another week and I am looking at going bust. I do not wish to let 200 families down, but I have no choice. Government did nothing. This is the straw that broke the camel's back. Take care.

Many businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy. The supply chain is badly affected, but the biggest losers here will be the citizens on the low or marginal incomes as costs spiral out of control.

The invasion of Ukraine has compounded post-pandemic pressures, as has the inaction of the Government on mounting inflation that was already seriously impacting rural communities, over and above urban centres. No infrastructure exists in rural Ireland as an alternative to using a car. Even though the tax comes from rural Ireland also, there is no public transport network. If you need a car to go to work but cannot afford to run it, you join the social welfare queue.

The response of the Taoiseach on Leaders' Questions this afternoon was utter rubbish. That is all we have been hearing for the past two days from people who have constructed a narrative to accommodate a lot of stupidity and nervousness from many people who, it appears, do not know what they are doing. We heard the Taoiseach give the leader of Sinn Féin a lecture in what you can and cannot do within the rules of the EU. I could have told him he was wrong but I did not get around to it. The speech by the Taoiseach was a disgrace. He seemed to imply that he could do no more. The fact is that under EU legislative frameworks that are here on a national level, he and his Government can reduce excise duties, the carbon tax and VAT as much as they like, and they can even go as far as zero VAT rates if they so choose. There is nothing to prevent the Government removing excise duties, VAT and carbon tax but the Taoiseach is hiding behind the legislative framework because the Government does not know what to do. There is no one in the Government with any vision or guts to assist him in that regard. Since this morning, I have had an opportunity to do more research. There is no reason the Government cannot remove all the taxes, excise duties and VAT other than trying to justify a narrative concocted so that it does not have to reduce the VAT. It is all cock and bull; a diatribe if ever there was one.

The position of the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and that of his Government will cost the taxpayer billions as a result of the increase in costs that will arise in every other facet of government, such as the pay demands that will come from the civil and public service, including gardaí, teachers and nurses, all of whom will complain they cannot afford to drive to work. There will be increased unemployment benefit payouts for those who cannot afford to go to work. The cost of getting children to school will increase. Elderly people will have to go into nursing homes because their carers will not be able to afford the petrol or diesel that allowed them to be carers. Where has all this been factored into the calculations the Taoiseach put forward this afternoon? All we are hearing is a diatribe. There is no fact or legislation to support what the Taoiseach is saying.

We are in exceptional times that require exceptional measures, and the treaties provide for exceptional measures to be taken in exceptional times. The Government must get brave. It had better take these steps so as to avert a wider economic crisis. It needs to stop the spin. Nobody has any confidence or belief in this spin any longer. Normal rules can be set aside in emergency. It should take the temporary emergency measure. Meaningful action is what is required. Need I remind the Minister that if the Government does not take such action, that will result in serious inflationary consequences that will be catastrophic for the people of this country? He should remove the tax on the tax. He should remove the excise duties, carbon tax, the National Oil Reserves Agency levy and the VAT. He should take the steps required nationally. He should save the economy. That is his job and if he cannot do it, he should let somebody in who can.

I am sharing time with Deputy Higgins. I do not know if there are other Government Members-----

That is up to the Deputies. The clock is running.

I want to contribute to this debate because a significant number of hauliers and businesses have contacted me in my role as a Deputy representing Limerick City, as they have many other Deputies. They are under enormous pressure. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, is well aware of that. I have studied the measures he has brought in. There are restrictions under the energy directive in Europe. What is required now is engagement with our European partners. There is a need for a European answer on this issue.

The rate at which fuel prices have increased, and continue to increase, is causing a significant difficulty for various sectors, primarily the haulage sector. Many operating in that sector are tied into contracts. I fully appreciate the restrictions that apply and I know the Minister has gone to the maximum rate currently allowed under the energy taxation directive. Are discussions taking place at European level to come up with a European directive on this particular issue? It is certainly going to continue for a significant period. If such discussions are not currently taking place, does the Minister anticipate them happening soon? Feeding into that, where does the Minister see the fuel rebate scheme going?

All Deputies are dealing with people on the ground. I have studied the proposal. There are major restrictions on what the Minister can do at the moment. I can see that across the areas of diesel and petrol he has gone as high as he can go. It is a start. Where are discussions at European level? Is part of the answer to work with our European partners in the context of this wartime situation to see if it is possible to give further scope to the Government? Would that in any way encounter or bring in the fuel rebate scheme?

This is a temporary measure. If we have learned anything from the Covid crisis - it is still there but we are coming out of it - it is that the Government has always been there to support business. There are many jobs at stake. There is significant frustration at the moment, particularly among the various business sectors that are very dependent on fuel. I acknowledge what is being done today and that the Minister has gone as far as he can currently.

It is all very well for Deputies to call for every measure to be brought in. The question relates to the particular structures we are operating at the moment. Then we need to have discussions at European level to see if we can get more flexibility in that area. Obviously, there are specific issues in the context of the haulage industry and the fuel rebate scheme.

Many retailers of petrol and diesel have contacted me. The majority of such retailers do not particularly like putting up high prices but there will always be the few who will exploit a situation such as the one we are currently experiencing. What can be done to ensure the reduction the Government is bringing in is passed on to customers - the ordinary people going about their daily lives and the business sector? That is the key to it.

I await the Minister's observations on those issues. I want to address the issue in a constructive fashion. The Minister is fully aware of the pressures businesses are under at the moment. All Members acknowledge that. If there are restrictions, does the answer lie in having discussions with our European partners to allow a European element to finding a way to ensure businesses come through this current horrific situation?

Basically, we can never lose sight of the fact that people are being murdered each day in Ukraine. Many of my constituents have been in contact with me. They have Ukrainian friends flying in already and they are asking how to look after them. We cannot lose sight of that. Side by side with that, at the local domestic level, external factors are giving rise to a situation almost overnight that is putting massive pressures on businesses, through no fault of theirs or of the Government.

We have had a turbulent two years. Unprecedented times are simply precedented now, or daily life. We have gone from the global emergency of a pandemic to the global impacts of war on European soil. We have gone from record savings just a few months ago to rates of inflation that I have never seen in my lifetime. The impact of that on family budgets cannot be underestimated. It can be seen in electricity bills, shopping receipts and at the petrol pumps. I commend the Minister on taking the unprecedented action of cutting excise duty by a third to lessen the impact at the petrol pumps and to lessen the impact on our purses and pockets. Is it enough? No, but it is necessary and welcome. Combined with the measures already announced, such as the €200 off electricity bills, the decrease in public transport costs and the extension of the fuel allowance scheme, these are measures that will help families throughout the country through this latest crisis we are experiencing.

Specific industries that rely on fuel, such as hauliers and taxi drivers, are particularly badly hit. I encourage the Minister and his Department to be innovative when it comes to looking at ways to support them. The tax measures announced today are as far as we can legally go under EU energy laws, so we have to be more creative with regard to ways to support companies through this crisis. The Minister's Department led the way in supporting companies through Covid-19 because the Minister wanted to protect livelihoods, just as he does now. I thank him for that. However I, like many others, was very disappointed to see prices at some, not all, forecourts rising throughout the day today. It is indicative of why there is such distrust from consumers. Many filling stations acted immorally, in my view, by hiking up their prices in an effort to evaporate tonight's measure from the pockets and purses of ordinary consumers. They did a disservice to their consumers, the people they rely on to make their living. It is not all of them, but some, and we are all aware of who they are. I ask the Minister to consider how the Government can tackle any perceived price gouging that may be taking place.

As the war in Ukraine continues, it is becoming increasingly clear that its impact will be felt around the globe for a long time. While it is not possible to shield our economy completely from global impacts such as this, I ask the Minister to continue to do all he can to protect our economy, our family budgets and our livelihoods.

On a point of order, the EU Commission has been encouraging member states since last October to take all measures necessary to reduce food prices. This is utterly untrue.

That is a point of information.

It is a point of order; it is utterly untrue. The Commissioner was before the agriculture committee and he told the Government to get its own toolbox to do what it likes, so this is totally false.

Thank you, Deputy. You have made your point, and it is a point of information.

There are five speakers from the Rural Independent Group. I call Deputy Mattie McGrath.

Ar an chéad dul síos I wish to give notice that I intend to move amendment No. 1 at a later stage.

This is utter folly. The last speaker and several other Government speakers turned up. Some of them ran to the hills to hide and did not even take their slots. Here we are again betraying the Irish people. Since last October, the EU Commission has been telling member states that they could do anything possible to bring down the cost of excise, and the list of countries that have done it includes Spain, Hungary, Romania and Poland. Who is codding who here? The Minister is codding nobody. This is not a citizens' assembly that meets on Saturday and Sunday. This is the Parliament to which the Minister has been elected to be truthful and to serve the people we were elected to serve, not to do a con job. I hate using the word "screw", but that is what we are doing. We are killing people. They cannot buy heating oil. They get a paltry amount for petrol and road diesel, 2 cent for the other diesel and nothing for heating oil. It is shocking. The Minister knows. He cannot look me in the face and admit it. He is hiding. He is acting for the globalists and for the powerful leaders in Europe. He has abdicated his responsibility to the people of Ireland who he is elected to serve.

I know it is a cobbled-together Government, but the Taoiseach had the audacity this morning to lecture us. He was like a múinteoir scoile. All he was missing was the bata, the stick. It was a lecture, because he could not answer anybody's questions. I asked the Minister tonight if he gets more tax from fuel as the price goes up. He did not answer me because he knows the answer.

In the haulage sector diesel is up 100% in price. The cost of parts for trucks is up 40% while the cost of labour is up 20%. The cost of tyres is up 30% and the cost of upgrading a truck is up 20%. That is a total increase in cost of 220%. For agricultural contractors and farmers diesel is up 100%, feed is up 50%, fertiliser is up 200%, tyres are up 30% and the price of cutting an acre of silage is now up €50. The cost of labour is up 20%. The cost of running a house at present for people to feed their families, put fuel in their cars and put oil in their houses is up 130%. The Government is increasing the tax in this country by 110%. The only one making a profit in this country is the Minister. The Minister is up 120%.

The Minister is abandoning farmers, fishermen, agricultural contractors, older people and disabled people tonight. Yes, I will vote for what he is proposing, but I do not agree with it because to offer people 2 cent off the price of agricultural diesel is an insult. At the same time, it has to be supported because it is a step in the right direction, although only a baby step. I remind the Minister that he was not very nice here in the recent past when we suggested to him that this is a measure he should take. He was very condescending but now he realises we were right. He recognises that because he is doing it, but he is not doing enough. He is leaving many people behind.

The Government will be remembered forever as the people who thought that the farmers, fishermen, agricultural contractors and people involved in that type of business were worth 2 cent. I wish to declare that for the last more than 30 years I have been a holder of valid high-carbon licences so I know what I am talking about. I have been doing it for a long time. The Minister is leaving an awful lot of people behind tonight and hurting them. People up and down the country are saying that if one of the three people in charge of this Government thinks that the right thing to do is slow down and that will sort everything out, it is no wonder we are in the state we are in.

I have never felt so ashamed for the public as when I heard today about this announcement of a paltry decrease of just 15 cent and 20 cent for fuel, something that was swallowed up overnight in most of the filling stations, and just 2 cent for tractor diesel. My telephone is blocked with voice messages and text messages from men and women who cannot take any more. To take many over the edge, there will not be any decrease in the cost of home heating oil for many suffering families. This is shameful. The Government has been stumbling from one embarrassing cock-up to another. If these cock-ups were at its own expense, it would not be too bad, but they are at the expense of the people who are suffering due to the cock-ups. For every €2 of petrol, the Government grabs €1 in tax. It is almost the same with diesel. For every €2 of fuel the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party Government grabs 98 cent in tax.

The Rural Independent Group has pleaded with the Dáil for months about the crucifying taxes on fuel. Contractors, farmers, hauliers and bus operators are facing a huge crisis and the Minister for Transport's solution is to tell people to drive slowly. This is the type of mad mindset that is brainwashing the mindset of this crippling Government. I have a question for the Minister. Is the Government going to inflict the next carbon tax increase on the Irish people? If it does, it will be wipeout for many, if it is not wipeout already. Stop blaming the war.

The Minister pushed carbon tax on a country that was trying to cope with the fallout from Brexit and the fallout from Covid-19. Ireland needed time to recover and the Minister followed Green Party policy. Deputies in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael followed Green Party policy and turned their backs on the ordinary living people of Ireland.

It is a fact that what the Minister has done today will make no material difference. He has to realise that millions of euro worth of work is being held up. Hundreds of jobs are being put on hold by the hour because people will not enter into contracts due to what is happening. The Government has to impose a cap and ensure certainty in the cost of fuel. Something is going on with the green diesel and the heating oil. There is 2 cent for farmers. Why does the Government hate the farmers so much? The Minister is from Dublin but why does he hate the farmers to only consider giving them 2 cent? Then there is nothing for the home heating oil.

The Government has to accept there is an increased tax take from the time a litre of petrol or diesel was €1.20. It is now €2.15, so the Government is getting more. Then the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, says that driving slowly will sort it out. It is like the lunatic is in charge of the asylum. Home helps are struggling, farmers are struggling in many ways, with the diesel on top of it, and workers are struggling, as are hauliers, construction workers and school bus operators who are tied into five-year contracts. Fishermen are abandoning their trawlers. Parents taking children to school are suffering. What is the Government doing? It is importing Russian coal and closing down Bord na Móna. Then, the Government does not want Shannon LNG. What does it want to do - block up the country altogether?

I am sharing time with Deputies McNamara and Fitzmaurice.

This financial resolution is the Minister's response to the crisis we are facing at present. I have a slight amount of sympathy for the Minister with the current crisis, but it is only a small amount. It is interesting how it has been undermined by all the oil companies before it is even implemented. We have been treated to stories over the last 12 hours about how prices have been increasing in all the forecourts around the country, getting in ahead to ensure citizens are not going to benefit from it. Everywhere there are stories of prices increasing by 20 cent per litre, which coincidentally just manages to take all the saving that could be made for citizens. It is interesting when looking at this that yesterday, Sinn Féin was able to pre-empt the tax cut and it looks as if the Government was responding to it raising the issue, or perhaps Sinn Féin had a heads-up that something was on the cards and got in ahead of the posse.

The point is that the Government should be looking at doing more. There is no doubt that the changes in the price of fuel are down to external factors that the Government might not have control of. Surely we can go without the windfall element of that increase, at least. There is no doubt, as the Minister noted, that we rely on the revenue that comes from fuel prices but we are not dependent on or have budgeted for the windfall tax that is coming into the State from the rapid increase in the price of fuel. Why not give up the windfall element? There is also the fact that the increase in fuel prices is not only down to the war in Ukraine, so what is happening? The Minister should have been looking to reduce taxes on petrol and diesel before this war even started. The Automobile Association, AA, issued a press release in November last year which talked about the increases in fuel prices. It appears that the Government keeps its hands on its ears and hopes that the noise will die down, and if it does not, it does something minimal to try to calm people down. This appears to be the Government's response to everything.

People in Donegal must have a car to survive and live. People in Killybegs live 50 miles away from the nearest hospital. People in Glencolumbkille are 18 miles away from the nearest multiple supermarket and 68 miles from the nearest hospital. These increases are about the difficulty of living daily life, and nothing else. As much as can be done now should be done, and I do not believe, nor does any citizen watching this believe, that the Minister is doing all that he can do at this stage.

Sometimes it is not immediately apparent how important this is to people. These fuel prices are a massive inconvenience for people who live in cities if they cannot drive, but for people who live in rural areas life becomes an impossibility, so reliant have we become on vehicles. It is in that context that I urge the Minister to examine the VAT rate. The Taoiseach has said that we cannot reduce the VAT rate because of EU rules and I accept his bona fides when he says that if we ask for a reduction in the VAT rate, if it is reimposed it will be at a higher level. However, we are in an emergency situation so we have to consider that, even if it comes at the price of a higher VAT rate in the future. Poland recently abolished the VAT rate, so it can be done, although I accept the Minister's bona fides when he says that it comes at a cost. We are rapidly approaching the point where we have to consider that cost. People will simply be unable to drive to work if this continues.

The oil price per barrel is at approximately $130 in recent days. Putin is saying it could rise to $300. I appreciate that is sabre-rattling at a time of war but the longer this war goes on, there is a likelihood of higher fuel prices. I note and greatly welcome the fact that crude oil prices seem to have dropped very slightly today. Hopefully, that will continue. Poland applied to the EU to drop its VAT rate in December, and it did it today. I hope the Minister is not ruling that measure out. We have to keep that possibility on the cards because if prices were to go the way Putin says they will go, we would be looking €4 or €5 per litre in the forecourts. People simply would not be able to go to work and our economy, particularly the rural economy, would not be able to function if that were the case.

First, the genius of a Minister who told people to slow down today would want to hurry up or get faster in government at making decisions with the situation that is evolving at present. I support what the Minister is doing tonight. It is the first step of the stairs, but, by God, he has a few more steps to go over the coming weeks because the people are desperate. The reality is that there is no break for people with home heating oil. I ask the Minister to look at the VAT on that. The VAT he is getting now compared with 18 months ago is a lot more. The same applies to the green diesel. The VAT could be reduced. We were able to do it for the hotel sector, so we should be able to do it for those two sectors, at least.

Second, there has been commentary that people with lorries can draw the VAT rebate. Not everyone can, as one must be a registered haulier. Most lorries in Ireland are not owned by registered hauliers. They are owned by ordinary people who have lorries going around the place doing different types of work. Also, bus operators cannot draw back the VAT. That is something the Minister must look at and make a change in the Finance Act.

There is one thing happening. I am not blaming the Minister tonight. I welcome what is coming but we need to do more because people are at their wits' end. However, there is racketeering. I wrote on Monday to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission about it. It needs to get off its arse at what is going on in this country. Everybody knows there was always 65 cent to 67 cent of excise on white diesel, as against green diesel. There was always that difference, plus VAT at 23% as against VAT at 13.5%. There was a substantial difference between the two diesels. Tonight we are being quoted €1.70 or €1.80 in places for green diesel and one can buy white diesel at €2 or €2.15, so there is something going on with racketeering. Have the surcharges being imposed on lorries going into Dublin tonight been looked at? Have the surcharges going into Derry tonight been looked at? What is being put on top of the price is fairly substantial. On top of that, what is the rebate that is being given back if somebody uses more diesel or is a good customer? Is that talked about anywhere? No. It all needs to come out in the washing about the rebate, because it is pretty substantial.

For the past ten years when one went to a filling station petrol was always 5 cent to 10 cent more. Why tonight in Tuam is the price €2.27 for diesel and €2.19 for petrol, and this is the top grade? What sort of gouging or racketeering is going on with the importers and distributors of oil in this country? We need to make sure that the people who are put in place to look after this are not sitting in fancy offices. They should be out there confiscating the computers or iPads to see what is going on in this country. The Minister can give 5 cent or 10 cent. Last night and the night before took that money with how the price was put up.

If the racketeering keeps going, we can vote whatever we want through here but there should always be 60 cent to 70 cent between the price of 1 litre of green diesel and 1 litre of white diesel, and 1 litre of kerosene and 1 litre of white diesel.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 71; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • 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.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • 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.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Denise Mitchell; Níl, Deputies Jack Chambers and Marc Ó Cathasaigh.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete paragraphs (1) and (2) and substitute the following:

“(1) THAT for the purposes of the tax charged by virtue of section 95 of the Finance Act 1999 (No. 2 of 1999), that Act be amended, with effect as on and from 10 March 2022, by substituting the following for Schedule 2 to that Act (as amended by section 42 of the Finance Act 2021 (No. 45 of 2021)):

SCHEDULE 2

Rates of Mineral Oil Tax

Light Oil:

Rates per 1,000 litres

Heavy Oil:

Rates per 1,000 litres

Liquefied Petroleum Gas:

Rates per 1,000 litres

With effect as on

and from:

Petrol

Aviation gasoline

Used as a propellant

Used for air navigation

Used for private pleasure navigation

Kerosene used other than as a propellant

Fuel oil

Other heavy oil

Used as a propellant

Other liquefied petroleum gas

Vehicle gas:

Rate per megawatt hour at gross calorific value

10 March

2022 to 1

May 2030

€165.11

€165.11

€165.11

€165.11

€165.11

€20.84

€20.01

€120.55

€18.27

€54.68

€9.36

(2) IT is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution shall have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1927 (No. 7 of 1927).”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 7; Níl, 77; Staon, 50.

  • Collins, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.

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.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • 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.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan; Níl, Deputies Jack Chambers and Marc Ó Cathasaigh.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 3:

In Schedule 2, inserted by paragraph (1), by the substitution of the following for the row dated 1 April 2022:

1 April 2022

€359

€465.98

€330.00

€405.38

€405.38

€0.00

€118.01

€120.55

€118.27

€54.68

€9.36

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 73; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • 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.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • 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.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Denise Mitchell; Níl, Deputies Jack Chambers and Marc Ó Cathasaigh.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4:

In Schedule 2, inserted by paragraph (1), by the substitution of the following for the row dated 1 May 2022:

1 May 2022

€359.00

€465.98

€330.00

€405.38

€405.38

€0.00

€141.12

€138.17

€130.52

€66.93

€9.36

For the benefit of the backbenchers who missed the debate, this amendment is about reducing the price of petrol by 34 cent and the price of diesel by 25 cent.

We are taking the amendment without debate.

Instead of what the Government is doing, increasing excise on home heating oil, the amendment would remove excise on home heating oil completely. Government Deputies should make sure that they can tell their constituents what they will vote against in a few minutes. They should make sure, when those constituents come to complain to them, to look them in the eye and say they could have done more but decided not to.

(Interruptions).

May we have a little respect, if not for the Chair then for the voting process? I would appreciate that.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 73; Staon, 0.

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • 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.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Níl

  • 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.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Denise Mitchell; Níl, Deputies Jack Chambers and Marc Ó Cathasaigh.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 5 to 7, inclusive, are out of order. How stands amendment No. 8?

It is withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 5 to 8, inclusive, not moved.
Question put and agreed to.
Cuireadh an Dáil ar athló ar 11.09 p.m. go dtí 9 a.m., Déardaoin, an 10 Márta 2022.
The Dáil adjourned at 11.09 p.m. until 9 a.m. on Thursday, 10 March 2022.
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