Parliamentary Party Allowances

Questions (110)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

110. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform following from the announcement in Budget 2013 of changes to the Leader's allowance, the steps he has taken to reduce the amounts payable to persons under the allowance; the current amount payable to persons; if a vouching system has been introduced by his Department; if there is an auditing system in place by the Houses of the Oireachtas or his Department; if an audit of the allowance as paid to individual members as opposed to parties has taken place since the announcement was made; if all individual members in receipt of the allowance will be audited on an annual basis or if it is expected that a small group of members will be selected for random auditing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29458/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Party Leaders Allowance is provided for in the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) Act, 1938, as amended by the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Amendment) Act, 2001. Legislation is necessary to give effect to any changes, including those I announced in the context of the Expenditure Estimates for 2013.

Under the legislation, the amount of the Allowance currently payable to a qualifying party leader is calculated based on the number of members in that party elected at the time of election, in accordance with the following table:

TDs

Rates: September 2008 to date

Rates: September 2008 to date

Government Parties*

First 10 members

71,520

47,680

11 members to 30

57,214

38,143

More than 30 members

28,616

19,077

Senators

First 5 members

46,766

Over 5 members

23,383

*The legislation provides that, in the case of a qualifying party forming part of the Government, the combined allowances due in respect of TDs of that party are reduced by one third.

The legislation also provides that payments may be made to a member of Dáil Éireann, who at the last preceding general election or at a subsequent bye-election was elected as a member other than as a member of a qualifying party. Such qualifying independent TDs are currently entitled to an annual rate of €41,152. A similar provision in the Act provides for an annual payment, currently amounting to €23,383, for independent Senators. 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. Under the legislation, a qualifying leader of a party is required to prepare a statement of expenditure for the Party Leaders allowance, have it audited by an independent auditor and furnish it with the auditor’s report to the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission, who report to the Minister and to the Oireachtas. Allowances paid to independent members are not currently subject to these oversight provisions. I also announced my intention to amend the legislation to improve the transparency of the Allowance by providing for auditing provisions to apply to independent Members in receipt of such payments.

I have taken the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review of the Allowance and a consultation process has been undertaken with leaders of qualifying parties, qualifying independent members and with the Standards in Public Office Commission. On foot of that review, I intend to bring proposals to Government very shortly on necessary amendments to the legislation underpinning the Allowance, including amendments to implement the measures I have already announced.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (111)

Seán Fleming

Question:

111. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will set out, in tabular form, the amount spent on purchase of arts works by the art management group in each of the past ten years; the current value of the State's art portfolio; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29548/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Data is provided in the following table for Per Cent for Art Expenditure 2003-2012. Artworks commissioned and purchased by the OPW from 2003 to end 2012 were funded in the main through the Government's Per Cent for Art Scheme. 98% of the State Art Collection is on display in State buildings throughout Ireland.

The OPW manages the State Art Collection which is an unique entity that has been formed over considerable years for display in a wide variety of locations nationwide. The overall financial value of the Collection cannot be easily estimated because of its diverse nature. It contains artworks that are of national and historic significance and contemporary works by emerging artists in the early stages of their careers. In line with other national collections (such as that of the National Gallery of Ireland) a financial valuation has not been placed on the Collection as a whole. Financial valuations are only undertaken on individual artworks when there is a need for commercial insurance for exhibition by other organisations.

Many of the contemporary art works purchased and commissioned in recent years under the Per Cent for Art scheme are of relatively low financial value in terms of the international art market. In recent times, works have been acquired from artists living and working in Ireland who are in the early to mid stages of their careers. All of the large-scale contemporary art works in the Collection were commissioned under the Government's Per Cent for Art Scheme and as these large-scale works are site specific, their commercial value is difficult to ascertain in the current art market.

Many of the works in the Collection form an unique part of Irish history such as the portrait series of former Presidents on display in Áras an Uachtaráin or they are works which are part of the historic fabric of a building, such as the 17th century portrait series in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Works by graduates are of relatively low financial value but they are of huge value in educating and enriching the experience of visiting a public building. Many of these works will be considered important works in the future and it is with this considered long term view that OPW continues to support the work of artists through the Government's Per Cent for Art Scheme.

Per Cent for Art

Year

Per Cent for Art Expenditure Commissioned projects and art works purchased

2003

593,182

2004

769,871

2005

578,585

2006

574,872

2007

623,847

2008

637,933

2009

642,008

2010

455,210

2011

376,948

2012

450,639

Departmental Funding

Questions (112)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

112. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the resources available to him, both within and outside his Department, in terms of expert statistical analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29591/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Central Expenditure Evaluation Unit in my Department was established in 2006 to promote the application of best Value for Money (VFM) practice in public expenditure programmes and projects. Its role has since evolved beyond that to include the provision of analytical and research support, to the Department and also to others. In 2012, the Government announced that an Irish Government Economic & Evaluation Service (IGEES) would be established to enhance the economic and evaluation capacity of the civil service and to improve the analytical resources available in the design and formulation of policy. Those recruited to IGEES are all trained to Masters Degree level in economics at minimum and that they have strong qualitative and analytic skills and familiarity with econometrics. These officials are engaged in carrying out Focussed Policy Assessments, a new evaluation tool introduced in 2012 that are designed to answer specific issues of policy configuration and delivery. Officials in my Department are also engaged with colleagues in other Departments in Value for Money & Policy Reviews to ensure that public funds are used effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, officials in the course of their work engage with bodies such as the Central Statistics Office, the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Institute of Public Administration, the OECD and the EU Commission.

My Department is also co-ordinating the implementation of the Government’s performance budgeting initiative and, in particular, the development of the Ireland Stat website. The Ireland Stat initiative aims to present a whole-of-government performance measurement system which will measure success in delivering on the Government’s objectives, linking high level goals with inputs, outputs and impacts.

Public Sector Pensions Levy

Questions (113)

Clare Daly

Question:

113. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 350 and 351 of 11 June 2013, the way the pension related deduction applies to those earning less than €60,000 per annum. [29628/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The public service Pension-Related Deduction (PRD) is an income-graduated imposition on the pay of pensionable public servants. It is imposed in such a way that increasing rates of deduction are applied to increasing bands or slices of an affected public servant’s annual pay. The PRD originally became operative on 1 March 2009 as provided for in section 2 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. Soon afterwards, the PRD rates and bands were changed by section 13 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009. The resultant amended annual PRD rates and bands, which took effect on 1 May 2009 and which continue to apply today, are as follows:

First € 15,000 of earnings: exempt

Earnings between € 15,000 and € 20,000: 5%

Earnings between € 20,000 and € 60,000: 10%

Earnings above € 60,000: 10.5%

Based on these currently applicable PRD rates, the amounts of PRD arising at a series of annual pay points up to and including €60,000 are as follows:

Pay of €15,000: No PRD

Pay of €20,000: PRD of €250

Pay of €25,000: PRD of €750

Pay of €30,000: PRD of €1,250

Pay of €35,000: PRD of €1,750

Pay of €40,000: PRD of €2,250

Pay of €45,000: PRD of €2,750

Pay of €50,000: PRD of €3,250

Pay of €55,000: PRD of €3,750

Pay of €60,000: PRD of €4,250

These PRD money impacts at specified pay levels will, for all annual pay figures at or above €20,000, be €125 less per year with effect from 1 January 2014. This change is due to section 11 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013, which, effective from 1 January 2014, reduces the PRD rate on the €15,000 to €20,000 pay band from 5% to 2.5%.

Programme for Government Implementation

Questions (114)

Micheál Martin

Question:

114. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the commitment in the Programme for Government in which it is planned to hold a referendum to protect the right of the citizens to communicate in confidence with public representatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25197/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Programme for Government contained a commitment to address the issue of confidential communications with Members through constitutional change. Following a detailed policy assessment and on the basis of legal analysis, it has now been decided to legislate in relation to this issue. The Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 provides for qualified privilege for confidential communication from members of the public to Members of either House. This will facilitate those who wish to draw wrongdoing to the attention of Members of the Oireachtas without having their identities disclosed other than in defined exceptional circumstances. The privilege provided for in the Bill is intended to apply in all circumstances and is not restricted to inquiries carried out under the Bill.

National Minimum Wage

Questions (115)

Finian McGrath

Question:

115. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will clarify the guidelines on the minimum wage for those under 18 years (details supplied). [29486/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Under the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, employers are permitted to pay employees who are under 18 years of age, first-time job entrants, or those undergoing structured training, specified rates of pay which are less than the rate per hour for an experienced adult worker set out in the act.

In the case of a person under the age of 18 years, Section 14(b) of the Act provides that a rate of not less than 70% of the adult rate (€5.35) must be paid. From 1 July, 2007 the adult rate has been set at €8.65 per hour, with the exception of the period 1 February, 2011 to 1 July, 2011, when it was reduced to €7.65.

Further information and assistance is available from the Workplace Relations Customer Services who can advise on the particular circumstances of your constituent’s rights for the period she was working and the options available should she wish to make a complaint.

Workplace Relations Customer Services can be contacted at lo-call 1890 80 80 90 or at www.workplacerelations.ie/en/information.

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Questions (116)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

116. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection if changes have been made to the rules governing single male parents' rent supplement that until recently could be paid for a two or three bedroom house, depending on the number of children the father has access to as part of custody arrangements; if community welfare officers have been instructed to only provide a single person's allowance in circumstances where the applicant is not claiming social welfare for his children, meaning that he is being deprived of his right to family life; and if so, whether she will take steps to reverse the directive. [29431/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short-term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. Currently, there are approximately 85,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €403 million for 2013.

There has been no change in policy concerning the treatment of joint custody households for rent supplement purposes. Every claim for rent supplement is determined having regard to the particular circumstances of the applicant. Any person seeking a rent supplement must first satisfy the Department’s representative that they have a housing need that they are unable to meet from their own resources. In addition, the Department must be satisfied that the residence is reasonably suited to the residential and other needs of the claimant. The Department must also be satisfied that the rent payable is reasonable having regard to the nature, character and location of the residence.

Where parents have joint custody of a child, the needs of both parents to have adequate accommodation are taken into account when an application for a rent supplement is being determined, including any obligations placed by the courts. In such cases, documentation is normally required showing that a joint custody arrangement is in place and being availed of before a decision can be made.