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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022

Vol. 1021 No. 2

Home Heating Fuels: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

I must now deal with a postponed division on amendment No. 2 to the motion on home heating fuels.

The following motion was moved by Deputy Clare Kerrane on Tuesday, 26 April 2022:
That Dáil Éireann:
recognises that:
— it is not possible for the Government to fully insulate all households from every price increase but, nonetheless, believes that the measures announced by the Government to date, including those announced on 13th April, are inadequate and that more can and should be done to support workers and families at this time;
— prices have been rising at a record-breaking pace and the Consumer Price Index increase between February and March this year is the highest monthly increase witnessed since the Central Statistics Office began publishing the series in 1997, annual inflation is the highest it's been in over twenty years and the prices of many essentials are expected to continue rising in the months ahead;
— these price increases have a greater impact on rural, low-income and older households according to the Central Bank;
— many households, particularly in rural Ireland, depend on home heating oil to heat their homes and the price of this energy source has increased the most;
— two-thirds of households in the West and North West rely on home heating oil to heat their homes, which has doubled in price in the last year alone; and
— some four per cent of households depend on peat as the main energy source to heat their homes, rising to nine per cent of rural households and to one in five households in the Midlands;
acknowledges the need for ambitious climate action that is fair and socially just;
condemns:
— the failure by the Government to take any action whatsoever to tackle the rising cost of home heating oil and the recent proposals announced to ban the sale of turf, at a time when alternative heating options are either unaffordable or unavailable and while in the midst of an energy crisis people are going cold in their homes;
— the determination of the Government to make home heating even more expensive for householders by increasing the carbon tax again on 1st May; and
— that there has been no energy poverty strategy since 2019; and
calls on the Government to:
— scrap plans to ban the sale of turf from September 2022;
— cancel the carbon tax increase due to commence on 1st May; and
— temporarily remove excise duty on home heating oil.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
notes that:
— the annual rate of consumer price inflation, as measured by the European Union's (EU) Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, picked up sharply over the course of last year, and stood at 6.9 per cent in March - the highest reading since the series began in 1997;
— the key driver of this increase is increases in wholesale energy prices as a result of the rapid rebound in global demand, and more recently, the war in Ukraine;
— price spikes have also been seen for a range of other commodities, including fertilisers, metals and food;
— global supply chain disruptions and the imbalance between demand and supply that emerged as the economy re-opened have also added to inflationary pressures;
— more recently, as a result of the war in Ukraine and Russia's role in global energy supply, oil and gas prices have risen further and these increases will feed into higher inflation over the coming months;
— pass-through price effects are being experienced in the cost of fuel internationally, and Ireland imports over 70 per cent of the energy we use, compared to an EU total of almost 60 per cent;
— recent measures taken by the Government are targeted to mitigate cost of living increases, and increased fuel and energy prices in particular;
— Budget 2022 contained a large range of measures to protect households from the rising cost of living, including a personal income tax package worth €520 million and a social welfare package of over €550 million, and specifically, there was an increase in the weekly rate of the Fuel Allowance by €5 to €33 a week so that €914 was paid to eligible households over the course of the winter and an additional lump-sum payment of €125 was paid to the 370,000 households receiving the Fuel Allowance in mid-March 2022, with a further €100 again to be paid in April;
— from April all residential electricity customers will see the Electricity Costs Emergency Benefit Payment of €200 (including Value Added Tax (VAT)) credited to their accounts, and this measure is expected to cost circa €400 million;
— the National Retrofit Scheme includes specific measures to support householders in taking actions to reduce energy bills, including up to 80 per cent grant funding for low-cost, high-impact measures such as attic insulation;
— a further package of measures, to the value of €320 million, was introduced with effect from 10th March, reducing the excise duty on petrol, diesel and Marked Gas Oil (MGO) by 20, 15 and 2 cent per litre respectively, and these measures are being extended to 12th October, 2022, with an additional 3 cent reduction for MGO;
— there is an €18 million package of emergency support measures for licenced hauliers to address cost pressures arising from current high fuel prices;
— VAT will be reduced from 13.5 per cent to 9 per cent on gas and electricity bills from the start of May until the end of October, and there will also be a reduction in the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy to zero by October 2022;
— in this context changes to carbon tax rates are having a relatively small impact on current energy prices, with the Budget 2022 carbon tax increase, which came into effect in October last year, adding approximately 2 cents per litre in tax to petrol and diesel; and
— the increase in rates for home heating fuels such as kerosene, gas, and solid fuels was delayed until 1st May, 2022, to mitigate against impacts during the winter heating season, and the May, 2022, increase will add approximately €21.56 to a 1,000-litre fill of kerosene and 20 cents (VAT inclusive) to a 12.5 kilogram bale of briquettes; and
recognises that:
— carbon tax is a key pillar underpinning the Government's Climate Action Plan to halve emissions by 2030, and reach net zero no later than 2050;
— the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future committed to increasing carbon tax and the Finance Act 2020 provides for a 10-year trajectory for carbon tax increases to reach €100 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2030;
— a significant portion of carbon tax revenue is allocated for expenditure on targeted welfare measures and energy efficiency measures, which not only support the most vulnerable households in society but also, in the long term, provide support against fuel price impacts by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels;
— previous analysis undertaken using SWITCH, the Economic & Social Research Institute tax and benefit model, to simulate the impact of the carbon tax increase and the compensatory welfare package has confirmed that the net impact of the combined measures is progressive and households in the bottom four income deciles will see all of the cost of the carbon tax increase offset, with the bottom three deciles being better off as a result of these measures;
— in the long run, the best way to protect Ireland from the impact of international fossil fuel prices is to reduce our dependence on them, and we will achieve this through the progressive decarbonisation of Irish society and through the steps that will be taken to meet the Government's commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050;
— furthermore, recent analysis undertaken by the Department of Finance using SWITCH has confirmed that the suite of recently announced measures more than offset the carbon tax increases for all income deciles, with the following measures being included in the analysis:
— the lump-sum increase in the Fuel Allowance of €100;
— a cut in the VAT rate on Gas and Electricity from 13.5 to 9 per cent;
— a reduction in the PSO levy of €58.57 annually; and
— an extension of the cut in excise duty of 15 cent for diesel and 20 cent for petrol from 31st August, 2022, to the Budget Day in October;
— overall, in net terms, all households see increases in disposable income, with lower income households seeing the greatest proportional gains, reflecting the progressive nature of the measures;
— the Government has very little flexibility on kerosene from a VAT perspective because it is subject to a VAT rate of 13.5 per cent, which is provided for by way of an historical derogation that allows Ireland to maintain reduced rates to certain supplies under Article 118 of the VAT Directive known as parked rates and cannot go below 12 per cent, and were the Government to reduce kerosene to 12 per cent the saving would be very small, but there would be a considerable additional cost to the Exchequer (€216 million to the end of October) because all other areas currently subject to the 13.5 per cent rate to this level would also have to be reduced to 12 per cent, as we are only allowed have two reduced VAT rates under EU law, accounting for about 25 per cent of economic activity and, as well as fuel used for heat and light, also include construction, housing, labour intensive services and general repairs and maintenance;
— each year, some 1,300 people die prematurely in Ireland due to air pollution from solid fuel burning, and it is estimated that there are over 16,200 life years lost, while many people also experience a poor quality of life due to the associated short-term and long-term health impacts of this form of pollution;
— turf cutting by citizens for use in their own homes is a traditional activity across many peatlands, but measures are required to reduce the emissions associated with burning peat, while respecting these traditions, and no ban on the burning of peat is being proposed, but a regulatory provision will be made to prohibit the sale of sod peat in larger agglomerations while allowing the traditional sale in rural areas; and
— final regulations will be agreed by the Government in the coming weeks which will ensure that, while measures are introduced to enhance air quality, they will not impinge upon traditional local practices associated with sod peat, including localised rural trading and the sharing of turf with family members and neighbours, and this approach will facilitate rural communities to continue to cut and burn sod peat for their own domestic purposes, while also reducing the use of sod peat in urban areas.
- (Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform)
Amendment No. 2 put.
The Dáil divided by electronic means.

As the gap is fewer than ten votes and because of the seriousness of the issue for so many people in rural Ireland, we are asking that under Standing Order 83(3)(b), the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

Amendment again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 64; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • 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'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • 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 Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Denise Mitchell and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 64; Staon, 0.

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

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Bacik, Ivana.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • 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 Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.

Staon

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