Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (78)

Michael McGrath

Question:

78. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will state, in respect of each of the former covered institutions, if internal and or external telephone calls were recorded by the bank; when the recording of telephone calls commenced; the current practice; if any such recordings from 2008 onwards have been passed on to the authorities as part of their investigation into certain matters associated with the banking collapse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18481/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware banks are required to record phone calls for a variety of reasons. I have not sought access to these recordings as under statute the Garda Síochána are the body responsible for criminal investigations in the State. I understand that the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have requested access to various documents/materials in the banks, including audio recordings, and that the banks have fully complied with these investigations to date. It would be completely inappropriate for the Department of Finance to act outside of its legal powers and interfere with any investigation that could compromise potential future criminal or civil investigations by the bodies responsible under statute.

Any phone calls that are relevant around this period may feature as part of the forthcoming banking inquiry. Last year I wrote to the State supported banks except IBRC (in Special Liquidation) and requested that they retain any recordings which may be required as part of the banking inquiry. All of the institutions have responded to confirm that steps have been taken to ensure that any information has been retained and will be available to the inquiry. I was aware at the time of writing to the institutions that IBRC (in Special Liquidation) had already taken steps to protect any recordings. Under the proposed legislation responsibility is assigned exclusively to the Houses of the Oireachtas to determine the requirement for a formal inquiry, the terms of reference of that inquiry and the procedural and organisational aspects of the inquiry.

Bank Stress Tests

Questions (79)

Michael McGrath

Question:

79. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the 2014 ECB stress test exercise to commence and be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18483/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, the stress test is one of the three components of the ECB Comprehensive Assessment which is currently underway, the other two components being the Supervisory Risk Assessment and Asset Quality Review. Preparatory work has already commenced on the stress test component and the details of the scenarios are due to be finalised at the end of this month. Work will be ongoing over the coming months with the final results due for publication in October 2014. As I have said on numerous occasions given the very large amount of new capital that has gone into the Irish banking system in recent years and all the work that has been done by our own Central Bank including the recent Balance Sheet Assessment that was completed recently, I do not expect the ECB process to lead to any new capital requirements.

Tax Code

Questions (80)

Michael McGrath

Question:

80. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who paid the domicile levy for each year since it was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18487/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The domicile levy was introduced in the Finance Act 2010. The first year for which individuals were required to make returns was the year 2010, and these returns had to be filed by 31 October 2011 (by 15 November 2011 if filed electronically by way of the Revenue Online System (ROS)). The following table sets out details as supplied by the Revenue Commissioners on the number of domicile levy returns received in respect of each year since its introduction together with the amount of levy declared in respect of those returns.

Year for which return is made

Number of Returns

Amount of domicile levy  per those returns

Amount of Domicile levy paid in relation to returns filed.

2010

25

€3,051,714

€2,691,645

2011

21

€2,487,365

€2,288,127

2012

14

€1,884,949

€1,763,591

Tax Reliefs Application

Questions (81)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

81. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider increasing the age limit for stamp duty exemption for the transfer of land to a young trained farmer from 35 to 40 years in line with the definition of a young farmer under the new Common Agricultural Policy arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18496/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy may be aware that I commissioned a review of the tax reliefs available to the farming sector in conjunction with my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The purpose of this review is to assess the benefits and costs of the various agricultural tax expenditures with a view to ensuring that the maximum benefit to the sector and the wider economy is obtained.

As part of the review, a public consultation process was launched which ran for 6 weeks. The review closed on 25 March 2014 and officials are reviewing the submissions. I do not intend to make any amendments to any agricultural based reliefs until such time as the review has been completed. The outcome of the review will be taken into account as part of the decision process leading up to Budget 2015.

Promissory Notes

Questions (82)

Michael McGrath

Question:

82. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the ECB has expressed any unease to either the Central Bank of Ireland or his Department in respect of the deal last year to replace the promissory notes with long-term Government bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18499/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am not aware of any expressions of unease made to the Department of Finance by the ECB following the promissory notes transaction. The Central Bank of Ireland is independent in the exercise of its functions and the management of its investment holdings is a matter for the bank itself and neither I nor the Department of Finance have any role in such a matter. Neither I nor my Department would, as a matter of course, be made aware of any discussions between the Central Bank of Ireland and the ECB in relation to this matter.

I am not concerned that the transactions accompanying the liquidation of IBRC, involving the exchange of Promissory Notes for Government bonds, are in breach of any Articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As the Deputy will be aware the transaction was unanimously noted by the ECB Governing Council, as indicated by President Draghi on 7 February 2013. Furthermore on 18 February President Draghi also stated that the promissory note deal was a positive step for Ireland.

The Irish Government fully understands the need for the ECB to ensure it is operating within its mandate as described in the recent Annual Report. As outlined by the Central Bank of Ireland on 7 of February 2013, the bonds will be placed in the Central Bank of Ireland's trading portfolio and sold as soon as possible, provided that conditions of financial stability permit. The disposal strategy will of course maintain full compliance with the Treaty prohibition on monetary financing. The promissory note exchange was a key transaction and can be seen as a major milestone on Ireland's road to recovery.

Mortgage Protection Policies

Questions (83)

Michael McGrath

Question:

83. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will hold a public consultation on protecting the consumer rights of mortgage holders whose loans are sold to unregulated funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18501/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As I said in the House on 8 April 204, in reply to an earlier Parliamentary Question, draft heads of the legislation have been sent to the Central Bank for its consideration in advance of more detailed engagement with the Attorney General's office. I also said that I did not consider it appropriate to discuss the details of these draft heads because we are at a very preliminary stage and the heads have not been cleared from a legal viewpoint. Once this exercise has been completed with the Central Bank, I will give full consideration to next steps including the question of broader consultation.

Insurance Industry

Questions (84)

Martin Heydon

Question:

84. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance the oversight carried out by the Financial Regulator to ensure that insurance companies alter their flood risk assessments in areas where millions of euro of taxpayers' money has been spent on flood alleviation measures that have reduced flood risks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18519/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Government policy in relation to flooding aims to address the underlying problem through appropriate remedial works where this is economically feasible. The Office of Public Works is committed to alleviating the impact of flooding through the provision of defences as well as a comprehensive assessment of flood risk throughout the country and development of flood risk management plans for the areas most at risk under the National Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme. Because of cost and scale of these types of flood defence works, this approach will see benefits over the medium and long term.

This commitment is underpinned by a very significant capital works investment programme which will see up to €225 million being spent on flood relief measures over a five year period from 2012 to 2016. Works are completed on a prioritised basis. Because of the cost and scale of these types of flood defence works, this approach will see benefits over the medium and long term.  Once these works are completed the availability of flood insurance in affected areas would be expected to increase.

On 24 March 2014 the OPW and Insurance Ireland agreed on a sustainable system of information sharing in relation to completed flood alleviation schemes. The outcome of this arrangement, set out in a Memorandum of Understanding, is that the insurance industry will have a much greater understanding of the extent of the protection provided by flood defence works and will therefore be able to reflect this in the provision of flood insurance to householders in areas where works have been completed.

The underwriting of a particular risk, is a commercial decision to be taken by the individual insurance company, which is based on a proper assessment of the risks they are accepting and the need to make adequate provisioning to meet these risks. The Central Bank of Ireland has no role in relation to issues of pricing or the scope of cover provided by insurance companies, nor any oversight role in relation to their assessment of flood risk.

School Accommodation

Questions (85)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

85. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for additional accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18273/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not have a record of an application for additional accommodation from the school, referred to by the Deputy. However it is open to the school in question to submit such an application for consideration.

School Accommodation

Questions (86)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

86. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for additional accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18283/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the school to which he refers has applied to my Department for funding for the provision of accommodation associated with special class provision. The position is that my Department can only assess such applications where a special class has been recommended by the National Council for Special Education. As the National Council for Special Education has not approved a special class group for the school, my Department is not in a position to approve the application from the school in question.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (87)

John O'Mahony

Question:

87. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not received their primary teacher's honours degree allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18286/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In 2012 a public service-wide review of allowances was carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As a result of the review, qualification allowances were abolished with effect from 1 February 2012. Department of Education and Skills Circular 0008/2013 outlines the effect of this decision on teachers. The Circular was agreed under the auspices of the Teachers' Conciliation Council, a body established in accordance with the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for Teachers. The Council is composed of representatives of the teacher representative bodies, school management, the Department of Education and Skills and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, chaired by an official of the Labour Relations Commission.

In Paragraph 12 of Circular 0008/2013 an exception is made in the case "where as at 5 December 2011, a teacher in employment on that date and eligible for receipt of a qualification allowance in respect of the post they held on that date, was actively undertaking a course of further study leading to an additional qualification, provided that the teacher does not cease to be a registered student on that course before its completion. Such individuals may apply to the Department/VEC as appropriate for a derogation from the general position within 3 months of the date of receipt of the award".

As the person concerned was not a teacher in employment on 5 December 2011 and not eligible for receipt of a qualification allowance in respect of any teaching post on that date, they do not qualify for payment of an allowance in respect of the qualification related to the course being undertaken at that time.