Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (290)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

290. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cuts that have taken place to Ministers and TDs salaries and allowances since the beginning of the crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10116/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Significant reductions have been effected to the pay, allowances and expenses of Ministers and TDs through a number of measures since 2009.

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts of 2009 introduced a progressive pension related deduction, to apply from March 2009, and a reduction in remuneration, effective from January 2010, respectively, for all public servants, including Ministers and TDs. Also in 2009, the Oireachtas (Allowances to Members) and Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Acts of 2009 abolished the payment of long service increments (LSIs) to members from the formation of the current Oireachtas. As LSIs are no longer payable, current Members of the Dáil and Seanad will not have LSIs included in their pension calculations, regardless of whether or not they had been at one time in receipt of those increments.

Under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010, a further reduction in pay was imposed on the remuneration of members of the then Cabinet. This Government itself imposed a policy of strong pay reduction and restraint since taking office in March 2011 with the pay of all members of the Government voluntarily reduced from its first day in Office. Section 6 (c) of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Amendment) Act, 2011 provided the legislative basis for these pay reductions from 1 January 2012. The effect of these reductions is that the gross annual salary of An Taoiseach has been reduced by nearly 30% since December 2009, and that of the Tánaiste and Ministers by nearly 25% from December 2009, excluding the impact of the pension related deduction.

In relation to allowances in the nature of pay, following reductions and abolitions by the previous Government to a number of allowances related to Committees, the system of allowances paid to Members was substantially overhauled by this Government in 2011 upon taking office. The rate of allowances paid to Chairpersons of Oireachtas Committees and to Commission Members were reduced further, representing reductions in the region of 50% on the June 2009 rates. The total estimated cost of the current measures in respect of these allowances is now less than €400,000, compared to a cost in 2008 of €1.436 million.

In the context of the Expenditure Estimates for 2013, I announced that a 10% reduction will be applied to the Party Leaders’ Allowance rates payable to qualifying leaders of political parties and to qualifying independent members. I also announced that severance payments payable to Ministers and other Officeholders upon cessation of Office are to be abolished. My Department has already commenced preparations on the changes to primary legislation necessary to effect those changes.

Prior to the introduction of the new Parliamentary Standard Allowance expenses regime from 1 March 2010, the previous expenses regime had been reduced by 10%, except for mileage which had been reduced by 25% in the case of mileage.

Since 1 May 2011, Cabinet Ministers with the exception of Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Law Reform now use their own cars on official business. Ministers of State have used their own cars on official business since 1984. It was estimated at the time that the saving to be achieved in not supplying State cars to Cabinet Ministers was of the order of €4m per annum.

In December 2012, I announced further cuts to the Oireachtas expense allowance regime as follows:

(i) reduced the rates of the Travel and Accommodation [TAA] element of the allowance by 25% for Dublin (less than 25km) and by 10% for the other bands,

(ii) eliminated the unvouched element of the Public Representational Allowance [PRA], subject to permitting monthly expenditure in the nature of “petty cash” for incidental expenses per month of €100 for each Deputy and €75 for each Senator [and subject to limits in (iii) below], and

(iii) reduced the vouched expenditure limits under the PRA to €20,350 for Deputies, €16,000 for Minister and Minister of Sate, and €12,225 for Senators.

It also reduced the monthly pre-paid envelope allowance for Deputies and Senators by 50%, to 625 for Deputies and 375 for Senators, and to eliminate the unvouched options of the secretarial support allowances.

All of these changes have resulted in, and will generate future, significant financial savings to the Exchequer. It is my intention to continue to ensure that the greatest value for money can be achieved in relation to payments made to members of the Houses of the Oireachtas on an ongoing basis.