Office of the Ombudsman Remit

Questions (265)

Gerry Adams

Question:

265. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider including the Irish Tax Institute under the remit of the Ombudsman; if he will consider appointing an independent regulatory body to deal with complaints made by citizens against the Irish Tax Institute; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24176/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Ombudsman examines complaints from members of the public who believe that they have been unfairly treated by public bodies. The Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012 extended the Ombudsman's remit to some 200 additional public bodies.  I understand that the Irish Tax Institute is primarily a representative and educational body for tax professionals. Under the current legislation it could not be subject to review by the Ombudsman and there are currently no plans to extend the Ombudsman's remit to encompass representative organisations.

  The question of whether an independent regulatory body should be appointed to deal with complaints made against the Irish Tax Institute is a matter - in the first instance - for my colleague the Minister for Finance.  The Department of Finance has advised that, the Irish Tax Institute has established and maintains appropriate professional standards of conduct for its members. A complaints mechanism has been put in place under its Code of Conduct for members and students which allows persons to make a complaint if they believe standards of work and conduct have been breached. Complaints are investigated by an Investigation Committee comprising three Council members and an independent Senior Counsel who is not a member of the Council and the Institute exercises professional discipline as appropriate over those who do not comply with the standards. Details of the standards and the complaints mechanism are available on its website. In these circumstances, it is not considered necessary to appoint an independent regulatory body to deal with complaints made against the Institute.

State Properties

Questions (266)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

266. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there are licence or lease agreements in place in respect of the rental of portions of the Four Courts building in Dublin; when the licences or leases were signed; the rent paid in respect of these agreements; if there are any arrears in this respect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24223/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that there are a number of licence agreements in place in the Four Courts. There are two licence agreements relating to telecommunications masts on a building in the Four Courts complex along the same terms as similar arrangements on other State properties. Both of these licence agreements commenced in 2004.

There are two other licence arrangements in place in the Four Courts. One of these is with Aramark Ltd. (formerly Campbell Catering Ltd.) and dates from 1977. This is the subject of legal proceedings and I am not in a position to provide details at this time. The remaining licence is with the Bar Council in respect of the Law Library and dates from 1968.

State Properties

Questions (267)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

267. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding an Office of Public Works owned property (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24370/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that there have been no reports (from staff or public) of any anti-social behaviour at this property. OPW Park staff regularly monitor the vacant lodge in question to check on its condition and indications of any vandalism or such anti-social behaviour. The Phoenix Park management have been asked to make contact with the adjoining property owner and to discuss their concerns.

Commercial Rates Valuation Process

Questions (268)

Clare Daly

Question:

268. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if it is the intention of Dublin City Council to charge an organisation (details supplied) commercial rates. [24656/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The rateable valuation of a commercial property is used by a local authority to determine the rates payable. All rateable property in the Dublin City Council rating authority area, including the property referred to (details supplied), has recently been the subject of a revaluation under Part 5 of the Valuation Act, 2001. The property referred to is currently the subject of an appeal to the Commissioner of Valuation under Section 30 of the Valuation Act, 2001. The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions as per section 9(10) of the Valuation Act 2001. The appeal will be decided by the Commissioner of Valuation no later than 19 July 2014 and that decision will be effective from 1 January 2014.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (269)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

269. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 324 of 27 May 2014, if he will consider collating the necessary data to enable his Department to provide, on an annual basis, details of construction related capital expenditure. [24298/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

My Department is responsible for setting the overall capital allocations across Departments and for monitoring monthly capital expenditure at Departmental level. Within the overall allocations, individual Ministers and their Departments allocate capital funds across various projects and programmes in line with their Department's priorities. As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 324 of 27 May 2014, information in relation to allocations at project level can be obtained from the relevant Departments.

I also noted in my reply that details in relation to the overall annual Exchequer capital budget can be found on the databank website hosted by my Department (http://databank.per.gov.ie/). The information on the databank is provided at Departmental, programme and subhead level which is in line with the format of the Budget and Revised Estimates. The Revised Estimates also include a sectoral breakdown of the public capital programme (voted and non-voted capital expenditure). Through the databank and the published Estimates, a wide range of data in relation to public expenditure (both capital and current) has been placed in the public domain. My Department will keep under review the detail of information provided with a view to enhancement as and when considered appropriate.

Legislative Measures

Questions (270)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

270. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide in tabular form, a listing of legislative Acts signed into law in 2013 and to date in 2014, for which he is responsible for commencement; the date on which the Acts were signed into law; and the date on which he signed the ministerial order commencing the Act. [24433/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

In response to the Deputy's question the following table outlines the nine pieces of legislation enacted by my Department from 2013 to date, including any commencement orders, if required.

Name

Enacted

Summary

Date Ministerial Order signed to commence Act

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Act 2013

26/02/2013 (No. 3 of 2013)

to amend the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Act 2003 to confer additional functions on the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission; and to provide for related matters

14 June 2013

National Lottery Act 2013

 

14/05/2013 (No. 13 of 2013)

to provide for the holding of a national lottery on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to establish the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery and to define the functions of the Regulator, to repeal the National Lottery Act 1986, to amend sections 27 and 28 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and to provide for connected matters

 27 February 2014.

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public  Interest Act 2013

05/06/2013 (No. 18 of 2013)

to provide for (A) the reduction of the remuneration of certain public servants (including members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, the judiciary and certain office holders);(B) the reduction of the amount of the payment of pension or other benefits (other than lump sums) payable to or in respect of certain persons who are or were in the public service (including members and former members of the Houses of the Oireachtas, former members of the judiciary and former holders of certain offices) under an occupational pension scheme or pension arrangement (by whatever name called); and(C) the alteration of the operation of scales of pay for public servants (including the suspension of the awarding, for a certain period, of increments under those scales),and to provide for related matters

No Ministerial Commencement Order was required

Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2013

23/07/2013 (No. 29 of 2013)

to make provision for medium-term expenditure management and for that purpose to make provision for Government expenditure ceilings and Ministerial expenditure ceilings, and to amend the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011

19 December 2013

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privilege and Procedures) Act 2013

24/07/2013 (No. 33 of 2013)

to provide for the exercise by either House or both Houses of the Oireachtas (or by a Committee of either House or both Houses) of a power to conduct an inquiry into specified matters, to provide for matters relating to compellability, privilege and procedure in the Houses (and in Committees of either House or both Houses), and to provide for related matters

Signed 23 September 2013 and commenced 25 September 2013

Construction Contracts Act 2013

29/07/2013

(No. 34 of 2013)

To regulate payments under construction contracts and to provide for related matters (subject to Commencement Order)

 

 

 

 

Two further steps are necessary for the operation of the legislation prior to its commencement.

The first, a comprehensive code of practice for the conduct of adjudication, has been the subject of consultation with key stakeholders. The final draft of the code of practice was circulated to stakeholders in March. 

The second element requires the establishment of a panel of adjudicators and a chair of that panel to be appointed.  Officials in my department are working on the details of the structure for the panel, its set up and operation and this will shortly be circulated to stakeholders for consultation.  Once this process is concluded, applications for the panel will be advertised and when the appointment process to the panel is complete the Act will be commenced.

Appropriation Act 2013

20/12/2013

(No. 43 of 2013)

To appropriate to the proper supply services and purposes sums granted by the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act 1965, to make provision in relation to deferred surrender to the Central Fund of certain undischarged appropriations by reference to the capital supply services and purposes as provided for by section 91 of the Finance Act 2004 and, for the purpose of maintaining a sufficient amount of moneys in the paymaster general's supply account so as to enable the discharge of particular liabilities, to make provision for repayable advances from the Central Fund

No Ministerial Commencement Order was required

Public  Service Management (Recruitment & Appointments)

(Amendment)  Act 2013

24/12/2013

(No. 47 of 2013)

to enable the redeployment of members of staff in the civil service and certain other sectors of the public service to other positions in the public service (whether the civil service or other foregoing sectors); for that purpose to amend the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004, and to provide for related matters

No Ministerial Commencement Order was required

Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014

12/04/2014

(No. 6 of 2014)

to amend and extend the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices Act 1938 and to provide for related matters

15 May 2014

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (271)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

271. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the level of scrutiny which takes place within his Department to monitor the compliance of tenderers for public procurement contracts with tax laws; and if his Department ensures that subcontractors employed by successful tenderers are also subject to review to ensure that they are tax compliant. [24503/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The management of the tendering process for a public contract is a matter for each contracting authority.  It is the responsibility of each contracting authority to ensure that tenderers comply with all the requirements of the process. 

Prior to the award of a public contract of a value of €10,000 (inclusive of VAT) or more within any 12-month period, the successful applicant will be required, in line with Department of Finance tax clearance procedures, to produce to a contracting authority either a current Tax Clearance Certificate or demonstrate a satisfactory level of subcontractor tax compliance in the case of the construction, forestry or meat processing sectors subject to Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT).  The same tax clearance requirement applies to any non-resident contractor being awarded a public contract.  Where a relevant contract (i.e. a contract that is subject to RCT) has been awarded to a subcontractor, the contracting authority or principal contractor must notify Revenue of the relevant contract online under Section 530B Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

In the case of subcontractors employed on any public sector contract of a value of €10,000 (inclusive of VAT) or more, they must produce a tax reference number to the contractor where payments exceed €650, a record of which must be kept by the contractor and be available for inspection where requested by the Revenue Commissioners. Where payments exceed €2,600 in any 12 month period the subcontractor will be required to either produce a current tax clearance certificate, or, demonstrate a satisfactory level of subcontractor tax compliance as appropriate.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions (272)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

272. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will list in tabular form all legislation and specific sections therein that refer to powers delegated to the Minister for State with special responsibility for public service reform and the Office of Public Works and with special responsibility for international tax issues and customs reform; if he will detail the title of the civil servants who are responsible for reporting directly to said Minister of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24616/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

While the Minister of State at my Department has carried out numerous functions on my behalf, particularly in relation to the Office of Public Works and Public Service Reform, no Order under the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment)(No. 2) Act 1977 delegating functions to the Minister of State has been signed by me.  The senior civil servants with overall reporting responsibility in the areas mentioned are the Chairman of the Office of Public Works and the Assistant Secretary who heads the Public Service Reform Unit in my Department.

Haddington Road Agreement Implementation

Questions (273)

Joan Collins

Question:

273. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will clarify if new entrants to the public sector under the Croke Park agreement were paid 10% less starting pay; under the Haddington Road agreement this 10% was to be reinstated for these new entrants in November 2013; when this increase will take effect and whether it will be backdated to November 2013. [24623/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Haddington Road Agreement made provision to address the imbalance between those who entered the Public Service since 2011 and those who entered before that date. In accordance with the Agreement revised incremental salary scales are being implemented in each public service sector for same grade entrants that incorporate the revision of salary introduced by Government in January 2011 and will be effective from 1 November 2013.

Haddington Road Agreement Implementation

Questions (274)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

274. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the provisions there are under the Haddington Road agreement for a public sector worker whose working week was 35 hours or less and who chose to remain on those hours with an appropriate pay adjustment to continue working those hours beyond 30 June 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24633/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Haddington Road Agreement provides for the standard working week for a public servant with a working week of 35 hours or less to increase to 37 hours a week.  The detailed implementation of this measure is a matter for local management in each public service sector in line with the operational requirements of the relevant sector.

Haddington Road Agreement Implementation

Questions (275)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

275. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the criteria used by Civil Service management to decide whether a civil servant, under the Haddington Road agreement, can be allowed to remain on a 35 hour or less working week with appropriate pay cuts beyond 30 June 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24634/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement, it was agreed that Management would allow people to remain on their pre-Haddington Road hours with appropriate pay adjustments for a set period of time.  The Agreement provided that following this period the new work sharing provisions which are set out in the Haddington Road Agreement should apply. 

The revised worksharing arrangments in the Agreement stipulate that:

- the implementation and operation of worksharing arrangements is at the discretion of management;

- no work sharing patterns approved in the future should be less than 50% of full time working hours; and

- each individual's work-sharing arrangements will be formally reviewed on an annual basis (or earlier if required). 

In practice, this means that in the Civil Service where worksharing arrangements were agreed to facilitate the retention of pre-Haddington Road hours, managers will review those arrangements to determine if the worksharing patterns being requested by individual staff members, whether pre-Haddington Road or otherwise, meet the business needs of the organisation, having regard to the efficient and effective delivery of public services.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (276)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

276. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to allocate further funds this year to local authorities for housing adaptation grants in order to tackle the national backlog in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24649/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The management of housing policy and making provision for expenditure on housing  is a matter in the first instance for my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to consider. An allocation of €38.6m was made in Budget 2014 for Private Housing Grants which represented a 10% increase on the 2013 allocation. The Deputy will be aware that I recently agreed to make available an additional €50m for funding the social housing programme under Phase 4 of the Infrastructure Stimulus Investing in Recovery and Growth.  The question as to what extent  there is  scope for further investment in housing will be considered in engagement between my Department and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in the coming months in the context of preparations of the Estimates/Budget for 2015.

Public Procurement Contracts

Questions (277)

Denis Naughten

Question:

277. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 9 and 11 of 4 June 2014, if he will provide a county breakdown of the public procurement contracts won by Irish companies; the total number of contracts awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24652/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Unfortunately the majority of suppliers registered in eTenders have not provided accurate company profile information including company registered address so we cannot report accurately on a break down by county of awards won by domestic companies above OJEU thresholds.  We are currently enhancing eTenders to encourage suppliers to enter accurate and complete company details and expect to contact suppliers to update their information in eTenders by the end of June. We are hopeful that suppliers will comply with the request to update their company details and by year end we would anticipate that we will be able to provide a detailed breakdown by county on contracts awarded that are logged in eTenders.

Commercial Rates Valuation Process

Questions (278)

Pat Deering

Question:

278. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will introduce a new Valuation Bill to deal with the imbalance in the commercial rates around the country; and if he does, the timescale for such a Bill. [24707/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Government published the Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2012 on 3rd August, 2012 as part of its legislative programme. The Bill proceeded through its second stage in Seanad Éireann on 11 October 2012. The primary purpose of the Bill is to accelerate the national programme of revaluing every commercial and industrial property in the country which is being undertaken by the Valuation Office.

Since the second stage debate was taken in Seanad Éireann, officials in my Department and the Valuation Office have engaged in an extensive consultation process on various aspects of the Bill with a range of stakeholders. The legislation is quite complex and every effort is being made to expedite the passage of the Bill. Engagement with the Parliamentary Counsel on  committee stage amendments to the Bill is nearing completion in the light of the consultation that has taken place to date and I would hope to see the Bill returning for Committee Stage in the Seanad before the Summer recess.

Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (279)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

279. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason for the delay in commencing the next phase of flood prevention works on the Clare River in County Galway; the progress made to date in the preparatory work on this project; the finance allocated to the project for 2014; when works will commence on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24731/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that the OPW, in association with Galway County Council, has developed a Flood Relief Scheme, under the Arterial Drainage Acts, for the Clare River in the environs of Claregalway. The Scheme has been approved by the Commissioners of Public Works and has been submitted to me for approval, in accordance with the requirements of the Arterial Drainage Act 1945, as amended. The proposals are currently being considered by my officials. Subject to satisfactory conclusion of this review, I understand that the OPW hope to be in a position to commence work on the project this year. I can confirm the Government's commitment to implementing this project. I can confirm also that provision has been made for the cost of the project in OPW's Multi-Annual Capital Budget Profiles for the period 2014-2017.

Departmental Staff Grievance Procedures

Questions (280)

Billy Timmins

Question:

280. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the mechanism in place in his Department to deal with concerns or complaints that staff under his responsibility may have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24765/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

There are range of mechanisms available in the civil service for dealing with complaints from staff. The most appropriate mechanism depends on the specific nature of the complaint. My Department has both put in place and is actively introducing the following policies that apply across the Civil Service:

- The Positive Working Environment policy includes procedures for dealing with complaints from staff of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment;

- The Grievance Procedure is a process that seeks to deal with the complaints of individual members of staff;

In addition my Department is currently progressing the Protected Disclosures Bill 2013 through the Oireachtas and it is anticipated that the Bill will be enacted shortly.  The Bill includes a provision requiring every public body to put in place internal procedures for dealing with protected disclosures made by workers who are or were employed by the body.

The Office of the Ombudsman examines complaints from members of the public who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain public bodies, for example, government departments, local authorities, the HSE and publicly funded third level education bodies.  As such, it is open to staff to bring complaints to the Ombudsman as members of the public and in their own private capacity in respect of issues where they perceive there have been failings in their dealings with public bodies.

Foreign Direct Investment

Questions (281)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

281. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons directly employed in FDI companies here; the number of persons employed in service companies feeding into such companies on a regional basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24101/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey reports on job gains and losses in companies that are supported by the enterprise development agencies. I am informed by IDA Ireland that the number of people employed in their client companies in 2013 was 166,184. Every 10 jobs in an IDA Ireland client company supports 7 jobs in the wider economy. 2013 represented the fourth successive year of jobs growth in IDA Ireland client companies with the creation of over 7,000 net new jobs during the year.

Trade Agreements

Questions (282)

Clare Daly

Question:

282. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when Ireland will sign the EU free trade agreement with Colombia. [24209/14]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The official signing ceremony for the EU-Colombia/Peru Trade Agreement took place on 26 June 2012. The EU was represented by the Presidency and by the EU Commission. All EU member states are parties to the Agreement and signature by all member states took place ahead of the official signing ceremony. Ireland signed on 25 June, 2012. The full entry into force of the Agreement is subject to the ratification by all parties. I indicated in response to a Dáil question last week that ratification by Ireland is subject to prior approval of Dáil Éireann, and that it is my intention to seek that necessary approval during the course of this year.