The purpose of Senator Kathryn Reilly's recommendation is to suspend the application of this measure until the Minister signs a commencement order and that the Minister would not be enabled to sign such a commencement order until a report examining the effects of the proposed arrangement was prepared and laid before the Dáil. If I were to accept that recommendation, the proposal would not take effect in the next calendar year and the budgetary arithmetic would be out by the amount of the yield from the measure - €18 million 2014.
We have a report on this issue which was prepared by the Commission on Taxation. The commission consulted widely and received thousands of representations from all interest groups and individuals about all aspects of the tax code and the recommendations it had made. We are not operating at random but as a result of a recommendation from the commission in its report in 2009. With one exception, its recommendation was to have a single tax credit simpliciter paid to the primary carer, as the commission called it. I accepted Senator Jim D'Arcy's advice and amended the section in the Dáil in order that in circumstances where the primary carer would not have an income to enable him or her to avail of the tax credit, it could be yielded to the other parent. That goes beyond the recommendation made by the Commission on Taxation and it was a very good proposal made by Senator Jim D'Arcy.
Because of the very strong advocacy by Senator Darragh O'Brien, it is similar to previous inputs to the debate. It would be a very compelling set of arguments if there were tax credits applied across all families and if all children had tax credits, but they do not. Couples living together, either cohabiting or married, who have children do not receive tax credits under the tax code. The Senator is asking me to provide two tax credits in respect of certain children. I understand the argument and I am prepared to provide one in the circumstances I have outlined, but I am not prepared to provide two. That is the adjustment being made. It is fair when one takes account of the fact, which I repeat, that there is no tax credit for children in families where the parents are living together. That is the reason I am not accepting the argument.
We can draw on the experiences of other countries. The details of the Dutch example are quite revealing because it has a good record on social policy issues. In Canada there is only one tax credit along the lines I am proposing and if there is a dispute about who should receive it, nobody receives it under the law. It is to incentivise couples to come to amicable agreements rather than being compelled to do so by the law. There are different ways of doing things and different countries have different approaches. Canada also has a good record on social policy and child care issues.
The making of the commencement order simply stops the thing from happening for at least 12 months. The time to receive a report is when the provision is implemented in order that we can see how it is working. Without the measure being implemented, there is nothing a report can tell us that we do not know already and which has not been the subject of this debate. It will be a matter of opinion. If the 100 day issue creates practical difficulties, I give a commitment that I will return to the Houses of the Oireachtas and remediate whatever difficulty emerges.