Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (116, 121)

Richard Boyd Barrett


116. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide details of the executive and board structure of Irish Water; the number of executive and board members, the salaries and pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4924/14]

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Seán Kyne


121. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the level of engagement the management and board of Irish Water have with the Oireachtas; if he will share the view that Irish Water should engage and provide progress updates to the Oireachtas by way of Oireachtas committee on a monthly basis during the establishment phase; and if he will confirm that any profits made by Irish Water will be used to reduce customer bills for investment in the water network. [4930/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 121 together.

The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis Éireann (BGE) and that the new company should be formed and registered under the Companies Acts. The Memorandum and Articles of Association, which were adopted by Irish Water on its incorporation in July 2013, provide that the appointment of directors to the Board of Irish Water is the responsibility of the Board of BGÉ with the approval of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Twelve directors have been appointed to the Board of Irish Water by BGÉ and these appointments were approved in advance by me, as Minister, and by my colleague, Minister Pat Rabbitte.

The fee payable to the Chairman of Irish Water is €30,000 per annum and the fee payable to the non-executive Board Members is €15,000 per annum as approved by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and in line with Board remuneration in the semi-state sector. The company management Board Members are not in receipt of any fee.

The 2013 Act also provides that Irish Water must maintain all accounts necessary to comply with the provisions of the Companies Acts. Irish Water, as a commercial State body within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group, is subject to all the normal governance and accountability rules which apply to such a public utility including external audit.  The Act provides that Irish Water will be required to keep accounts of all moneys received or expended by it and must submit an annual report on the performance of its functions each year to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The Act also requires that the annual report is to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

As Irish Water is a commercial utility, neither I, nor my Department will necessarily have access to details of, or direct accountability for, expenditure and other organisational matters in relation to the company. In this context, and to support and assist public representatives in their role, my Department has requested Irish Water to take early action to ensure that public representatives are regularly briefed on matters pertaining to the organisation and operation of Irish Water. Irish Water is currently considering how best to support and respond to the Parliamentary and public representation needs of elected representatives at national and local level.

The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) will be responsible for the independent economic regulation of Irish Water.  The Act requires the CER to perform its functions in a manner that best serves the interests of the customers of Irish Water. It also requires that the CER should have regard to the need for Irish Water to provide water services in an economical and efficient manner.