Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 3 Jul 1990

Vol. 400 No. 9

National Treasury Management Agency Bill, 1990: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

When I moved the adjournment I had been saying that on current trends it might be possible to bring our debt-GNP ratio to acceptable proportions in the foreseeable future. Let us recall that the National Development Plan stated and I quote

Though the evolution of debt is influenced by factors other than the level of borrowing, a realistic expectation would be that by the end of 1993 the national debt might be reduced to about 120 per cent of GNP from 133 per cent.

However, such a success story is still relative.Ireland is still very much at the top of the international debtors league. The fact that we are managing to stabilise the debt cannot lull us into a false sense of complacency or permit a relaxation of a very vigilant fiscal policy. Whether we like it or not, the nation is still in hock. Technically, in any man's terms and particularly in layman's terms we are broke and if we were a private enterprise we would be insolvent and the doors of the banking institutions would be slammed permanently and very firmly in our face. The reason we are broke is that a large slice of public funds has gone into paying for the past election promises of successive Governments, particularly for the election promises of a previous Fianna Fáil Government.

While we all remember that budget deficit borrowing started in the mid-seventies, the infamous manifesto of 1977 was the launching pad for the Dutch auction-style economics. It was amusing to hear Deputy Dick Roche preach from the high altar of fiscal rectitude and lecture the Opposition on their responsibilities but he was rightly reminded, I think by Deputy Rabbitte, that he was an adviser to the one and only Minister for Economic Planning and Development, Dr. Martin O'Donoghue the chief architect and man mainly responsible for the infamous 1977 manifesto. Thanks be to God, that was a short-lived trend but unfortunately it has left an indelible imprint on the economic history of this country.

Despite the measures that have been taken, Ireland's foreign debt profile is still not good by comparison with other countries and it has to be acknowledged that when foreign debt is adjusted per head of population Ireland emerges as one of the most indebted nations of the world. When allowance is made for the fact that Irish gross national product is higher than that of most developing countries, Ireland remains among the top ten foreign debtors when compared with other nations in the developed world.

Ireland is cast internationally as being developed in terms of having a good industrial market economy, but the justification of such a classification has never been made entirely clear and it seems anomalous in view of the fact that Ireland's gross national product per person is below that of developing countries such as Trinidad, Tobago, Hong Kong and Singapore. No matter what has been achieved today, in sheer absolute terms, Ireland's foreign debt is not as some people would have us believe a mere drop in the ocean of international liquidity. Indeed, Ireland's debt liability has attracted a fair amount of international attention, and unfavourable attention at that. We are sandwiched in somewhere between Pakistan and Colombia. This makes a fallacy of the traditional argument that Ireland is so small and our borrowing requirement is so limited we could raise what we like on the international capital markets.

While there is no doubt that the country's ability to raise borrowings remains unimpaired, the accumulated debt of the past is still attracting a fair amount of international attention, and in some cases international criticism. One of the biggest problems arises from the fact that despite our cutbacks and various restrictions and the general consciousness we have to maintain a continuous consistent line of economic stringency, we are still running hard to stand still. That is the hard reality facing us in the future.

Everybody knows that at budget time it becomes very much an open season, and indeed a festival for special pleadings.The Government — no matter what Government are in power — are besieged by demands and petitions from all sides from various pressure groups and interest groups representing a wide range of interests in the community, each of whom is meritorious in their own right and each having a particular significance in terms of how people see their own priorities. The purpose behind their representations is an attempt to win a tax concession here, a grant there or a spending increase in some area. While the interests are diverse and many and are often hostile to each other, they have one unifying characteristic and that is such of the demands, if met, will inevitably lead to a deterioration of the Government's financial position. Each interest group are necessarily concerned about the impact of the budget on their group but not on the economy as a whole. It is interesting that on budget night each group see the budget in terms of their own perspective or through their own tinted glasses. Each group assess the exercise in terms of the effects on their members. If the Minister for Finance accedes to their demands it is regarded as a good budget but if the Minister does not accede to their demands it is regarded as a bad budget, the budget of a hardhearted Minister who is impervious to the criticisms of logical arguments being put forward. If the Minister accedes to their requests he is regarded as a man of wisdom, a most far seeing individual who is sensitive to the needs of a group who have an argument which makes a great deal of sense.

The problem is that everybody sees the budget in terms of their set of needs. Very often we see things through our own blinkered perspective and if the Minister does not accede to our demands, then invariably we accuse him, rightly or wrongly, of leading our group and the country as a whole to their eventual perdition.If the Government placate the various interest groups by spending money which they do not have or by foregoing revenue they would otherwise have raised, they will be accorded due praise by each group but if, on the other hand, they frustrate the demands of such groups and set about correcting the financial position then condemnation, fire and brimstone will be the order of the day. The essential function of Government is to defend the interests of the community as a whole and to frustrate, if necessary, the demands of sectional groups. The Government have to look at the community's future as a whole when fashioning their policies.

As I said earlier, the country is not poor, it is just broke. This distinction between being poor on the one hand and being broke on the other was, I think, first formulated by the economist, Colm McCarthy. It is an important distinction in that it points to the genesis of the economy's difficulties. A household can be quite rich in terms of the income it commands, but if it overspends by aspiring to living standards it cannot finance or afford, then it will soon become broke. Therefore, it is possible for a household to be relatively rich and broke simultaneously.

This essentially is what has happened to the Irish economy over the past 15 years or so. We are relatively rich as a country but we have become broke attempting to keep up with our neighbours, the Jones's in Britian. The amount of income created by producing goods and services was insufficient to cover our expenditure and to make up the difference the country had to borrow on a massive scale. High interest rates on the accummulated borrowing added still further to the country's bills. As a result of the continuing attempts to artificially keep our living standards to an unsustainable high level, our national debt now stands at £25 billion. We are broke because we overspent in the past and the interest payments on those debts are now so large that, even when the Government are trying to economise on current spending to finance the profligacy of the past, they are strangled by the burden of past borrowing. In the past the drive to overspend was powered by demands from the interest and pressure groups which were alluded to in the debate two weeks ago and again today.

The figures which emerged yesterday are disquieting on the one hand and encouraging on the other. While Government borrowing, despite the sluggish first three months of the year in terms of revenue, is being brought within controllable levels, one has only to look at the whole situation, to see that we are borrowing way beyond our means. For the first half of the year Government borrowing was £507 million, somewhat ahead of market expectations but below last year's level. The Minister for Finance has said this is satisfactory, that budget targets are being met and that the pickup in terms of revenue from taxation, etc. will become more visible and obvious as we move into the third and final quarters of the year. However, one has to temper this expectation with the realisation that the tax concessions which were given in the budget will begin to impinge more from this time onwards.

The Government's finances are in a reasonable shape at present but I wonder whether they will manage to maintain the degree of progress which has been achieved in the relatively recent past as the effects of 1992 begin to impinge and the demands and erosion of tax harmonisation begin to take place. We seem to be fair set for meeting short-term targets but at the same time we are running relatively hard just to keep steady.

Nevertheless, one must have anxieties, our economic achievements have been the result of the good advice which has been handed out by the officials in the Department of Finance and thankfully taken on board by the Minister for Finance.One wonders if it is absolutely necessary, given the relatively recent recovery in economic terms of the public finances, for the Minister to still push ahead, irrespective of the reservations which have been expressed by Members from all sides of the House about setting up a debt control agency. Is there a need for such an elite corps? Does the Minister not acknowledge that the economic achievements have been largely brought about as a result of the solid advice given by his Department? One can understand the reluctance on the part of the officials in the Department of Finance to see their power eroded by a new elite corps — who will undoubtedly do the same work they have been doing and are doing today — who will get salaries above the norm and who will apply for the posts within the Department which have been held by the officials who have been giving good advice to the Minister over the years.

We on this side of the House do not see a need for such a elite corps. If there was a deterioration or slippage in economic performance there might be a need for such a grouping, but in the light of recent experience where things have been improving, thanks to the good advice meted out by the officials of the Department, we cannot concur with the Minister's dogged insistence to put in place a new super-structure to manage the national debt.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh aidhm an Bhille seo, which is further to restrict the national debt, but we, on this side of the House, do not believe we need a new elite grouping to do so.

I welcome the aims and objectives of the Bill but I question whether it is really necessary. I am extremely concerned at the inferences which may be drawn from its introduction.What are the civil servants, particularly those in the Department of Finance, thinking about these days? Do they think they are being accused of having failed to manage the debt or that they are inadequate? That is the type of message they will get from the introduction of this Bill.

It is a convention of this House that we do not reflect on officials; the Minister is responsible.

I was not referring to the role of the civil servants; I was simply referring to how they might be feeling at present.

I believe the introduction of this Bill will further damage morale in the Civil Service, something we can ill afford at this time and this view is shared by many other people. The level of morale in the Civil Service is not good at present and some Departments find it very difficult to deal with their day to day business because their staff numbers are inadequate. The Department of Agriculture and Food have gone through a very difficult period since last autumn. It is surprising the Minister for Agriculture and Food has not taken any action to assist them and put things right.

In the course of his introductory remarks the Minister for Finance said the private sector was encouraging the best people from his Department. I have no doubt the reason is that the private sector is able to reward effort better than the Minister. The private sector has always been able to counter the heavy taxation here by making payments to employees which are not subject to taxation or offering incentives of one kind or another. The problems that have encouraged the Minister to introduce the Bill will not go away when the Bill passes through both Houses of the Oireachtas.

During the course of the debate last week Government backbenchers discussed who was responsible for our huge national debt. Many of them levelled the blame for that debt squarely on this side of the House. They maintained that the Coalition Government of 1983-87, led by Dr. FitzGerald, were responsible for the debt. Because of that it is important to set the record straight. The figures show that the national debt in that period doubled but the figures also show that the debt increased by 300 per cent in the period of the Fianna Fáil Government who took office in 1977. One Government Deputy accused the Coalition Government led by Dr. FitzGerald of being Thatcherite in their approach. He used words like "monetarist" to describe the approach of that Government. It was obvious he got carried away by the propaganda of the time. He was unable to see the illogical connection between the increase in the national debt and the description of the Government as Thatcherite or monetarist.

The rate of increase in the national debt during the terms of office of the Coalition Government under Dr. FitzGerald slowed down. Obviously, the borrowing requirement of a Government is built into the economy and that was the case when Dr. FitzGerald took over in 1983. One of the reasons for the huge borrowing requirement was the need to pay the 30,000 civil servants taken on in the previous four years by Fianna Fáil, particularly between 1978 and 1979. That was one of the problems with which the FitzGerald Government had to deal.

Many of us can recall the huge pay rises awarded in the 1980-81 period, particularly leading up to the election in 1981. I was a teacher at that time and I recall the findings of the independent commission on the salaries of teachers. The commission recommended an increase of between 12 and 13 per cent. When the findings of the commission were presented to the unions representing the teachers they rejected them but did not create a great furore. The response of the Government was remarkable.They went against the findings of the independent commission and made their own award which was almost double that recommended by the commission. In some cases the award was doubled. That was an amazing decision and it was similar to many decisions of that Fianna Fáil Government.

At that time inflation was out of control.Indeed, it was so bad that the Estimates presented by the Government for the running of the affairs of the State were adequate for six months only. They were known as the infamous Estimates. Inflation was running at such a high level it was impossible to project what might happen the next week, let alone in the next year. The business sector during 1980-81 told us it was impossible to plan for more than one week ahead. Those who purchased products that might lie in stock for more than a week experienced great difficulty in trying to put a price on them particularly if they had to be replaced. The manufacturing sector was in chaos. Forward planning was impossible and stocks were allowed run down because the money received for the sale of products was inadequate to replace them. Government planning in 1981 was askew.

When the Coalition took over they were forced to introduce a mini budget and to set about, in the face of opposition in the House and outside, trying to reduce inflation and the rate of increase in the national debt. The rate of inflation was reduced dramatically in the following four years and when the election was called in 1987 the rate of inflation was close to 4 per cent. The Coalition Government managed to reduce the rate of increase in the national debt, something that Governments since have managed to do. No Government have managed to eliminate the national debt but it has been reduced. The Coalition Government dragged the semi-State sector back to solvency. Prior to that semi-State bodies were in serious financial trouble. I accept that their difficulties were tied in with the inflationary problems.

The Coalition Government led by Dr. FitzGerald made those advances against the most vicious opposition imaginable. The opposition in the House, and outside, was vicious. It was easy to understand how people outside the House felt because the seventies had been a period of growth and stability and people had become accustomed to big pay rises and a fairly high standard of living. Dr. FitzGerald, and his colleagues, had to tell the people that their expectations would have to drop. His Government were brave in adopting that stance but the people, naturally, said they would not accept the Government's proposals. What was totally inexcusable was that the Opposition of the day joined with the outside pressure groups — in some cases they incited them — against the Government.That was an awful period in Irish history. The contradictions were unbelievable; day after day in the newspapers there were front page reports of cuts in various services. At the time the Opposition Party decried the cuts and said there was no need for them, and this continued throughout the period of that Government.

It was shameful that the Fianna Fáil Party tried to prevent progress during that period and since then they have been tarring the Government to try to achieve power. Thankfully, it is not working very well as their Thatcherist and monetarist policies at that time still echo in people's minds. To say that the Government made no effort to tackle the great national problem of the day is ludicrous and anyone who checks the Official Report or the newspapers at the time will have no difficulty in seeing what the Government were trying to do and what they achieved.

It is amazing that the party who originally sent the debt spiralling out of control should have been intent on obstructing at every turn the necessary readjustments which the Government had to take. During the 1987 election campaign, I was canvassing in my constituency and many people showed me a letter claiming that our party were out of touch with reality. A few days later, I received a copy of the same letter and as far as I could ascertain, everybody on the electoral register also received a copy. It was from the leader of the Opposition of the day — who is now the Taoiseach — and said that there was no need for cuts in health, education and social welfare. It said that we should not dismantle what had taken generations to build, referring, of course, to services which the Government supply to the public.

During that election campaign we saw the posters displayed all over the country proclaiming that health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped, which is true. However, when the election was over the new minority Government assessed the situation and decided that there was a need for cuts in health, education and social welfare. They said it was necessary to make all sorts of other cuts in every possible aspect of Government business. They wondered how they would do this, particularly as they were a minority Government.

The public assumed that a minority Government could not get legislation through the Dáil to make the necessary cuts, that they were handcuffed. Everybody knew they could not achieve any of their aims or objectives because, historically, the public knew that Fianna Fáil could not behave in any other way except the way they behaved between 1983 and 1987. There was a problem for the Fianna Fáil minority Government and for the country. As we are aware, the problem was solved because Deputy Dukes, his Front Bench and the Fine Gael Party decided it was right and necessary that the policies they had pursued up to 1987 should continue. They decided — whether it was politically right or wrong — to support the Government. At the time it was acclaimed as something new; the Minister for Finance stands up in this House proudly proclaiming that he has achieved this, that and the other but you will never hear him allude to the fact that he could not have done it without the support of Deputy Dukes and the Opposition parties who supported that strategy. However, it is nice to hear certain commentators alluding to the fact that the Fine Gael Party had a hand in what happened after 1987 and that, without their support, the Government would not have been able to do anything. It is good to know that some members of the public are also aware of this.

It is heartening to realise that the electorate have not been gulled by the tactics during the period from 1983 to 1987 and that they have taken note of the "turncoatism" of the Fianna Fáil Party in the period 1977 to 1987. It is also heartening that the electorate have used their good judgment when called upon to elect new Members to the House and to note that they are not willing to give Fianna Fáil power without ensuring that it is controlled.I hope that will be the case in the future because in the past ten or 12 years what I referred to as "turncoatism" has been accepted as a kind of Fianna Fáil ideology. For much of that period truth was replaced by expediency. They paid the price because the Taoiseach is still waiting for an overall majority. However, people with long memories will ensure that the overall majority he seeks will not be made available to him in the near future and he might think twice about going to the country.

The net effect of the Fine Gael action in 1987 was that the rate of increase in the national debt continued to decrease, and at this time we can look to the future with some confidence. We do not have the problem under control; I think there is agreement on all sides about that. The cost of servicing the debt is enormous and the debt is still increasing. However, the news in the last few years has been generally good for the economy and we are all happy about that.

With regard to the details of this National Treasury Management Agency Bill, as well as setting up a chief executive with a staff of five or six to manage the national debt, it is also proposed to set up an advisory committee. As I said, I wonder if any of this is necessary. The Minister might be better off looking at the Civil Service and the way civil servants are paid and organised and not go rushing into this business which is most definitely going to set up a new hierarchy and create unrest in the Civil Service. I cannot see how the members of the service who have been dealing with the national treasury to date, or who have ambition to deal with it in future, are going to be happy in these circumstances. I assume they can apply for the positions which will be on offer, but those who will not get one of the limited number of positions will be dissatisfied with their conditions of work. My estimation is that this is a waste of time; worse, it will create problems down the road for the Minister.

I cannot understand why the Minister is setting up an advisory committee. He is putting in place a chief executive who will be qualified in the area of high finance and he is going to recruit some very good staff highly qualified in that field. No doubt the Minister has advisers who are capable and well qualified to advise him and discuss with the civil servants all necessary aspects of national treasury management, yet he is going to set up a new advisory committee with a chairman and certain number of members. Surely it is not necessary to do that. I wonder if he has decided that a few of his pals need to be paid off in one way or another. I hope that is not the case, but history would suggest it probably is. Therefore, while it is necessary to manage the national debt properly and in the best possible way, this in not the way to go about it.

Occasionally I table questions to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on the economy in general and the fact that the Irish economy is very competitive compared to our nearest neighbour.My research in that area indicates that we are about 19 per cent out of line, before tax, with regard to prices. I have made a few attempts in the House to bring this to the attention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and he always tells me he has no control over that at the moment because the prices commission are no longer in existence.This means I have no opportunity to discuss with him why this is the case and what remedial action he might take to reduce that 19 per cent difference as quickly as possible.

There are people in the Government who will say, "You are wrong, that is not the case. Our prices are quite competitive.The work we have done since 1987 will ensure that", but it is very easy to contradict that. The EC made a decision recently with regard to the 48 hour rule. The Government decided in the interest of the Irish economy that there was no way they were going to allow people to move freely between the Republic and Northern Ireland for shopping purposes because that would result in a huge outflow of money from this economy. The Government still believe that, yet we cannot get a proper opportunity in this House to come to grips with that problem and try to get some view on how it might be combated. This is a particularly sensitive matter for me as a Deputy from a Border constituency. The 48 hour rule achieved a certain amount for the economy as a whole and prevented large amounts of money from flowing across the Border, but I am afraid, because it was not a success in the Border counties, the towns along the Border are still whimpering. They are tired of this, and are not making as much noise as they used to but they are still in a very difficult position. If you mention that matter to the Government they will say there have been massive improvements since 1987. If there have been and if the improvements were adequate, why do they want to keep the 48 hour rule or replace it by some other rule which will have the same restrictive effect?

These are things the Minister for Finance should be looking at. He should try to make life easier for his Department and to release some of his staff from certain duties to deal with the national treasury instead of wasting time putting this Bill in front of us. He should be talking to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the two of them should try to work out for this House how they are going to prepare the Irish economy for 1992 and how they are going to prevent further damage being done to my constituency and to other Border constituencies.Many of us would be more satisfied if they would do that rather than trying to obstruct us when we ask a question, dodging and being ambivalent, telling one story to the people living on the Border areas and another story to everybody else.

I welcome the fact that the Government have decided to establish a national debt management agency. I suppose it is ironic that as politicians we have to establish an agency to manage the national debt. Whether we wish to believe it or not, the general public and the politicians have been responsible — and irresponsible — in regard to the many interest and lobby groups over the years who have brought about our enormous national debt. This has developed the core thinking of the civil servants in seeking to establish a mechanism that will control to a great extent the savings that can be made in the proper management of our national debt. The Minister outlined in his Second Stage speech that he anticipated a substantial saving of £35 million this year because of the proper management of our debt. I hope the Minister will achieve that target and greater savings in the future.

I take the opportunity to refute some of the suggestions made by a number of speakers, particularly my good friend Deputy Dick Roche. Deputy Roche has a very fertile imagination in relation to the facts of economic life. His attitude is nauseating. I regret to have to say that, because he played a substantial role as economic adviser to the Fianna Fáil Party when they developed and published their infamous 1977 manifesto. Deputy Roche must share some of the responsibility for debt mismanagement because of his reckless proposals for economic overdrive in the late seventies under the stewardship of his then mentor Martin O'Donoghue. Ironically, members of the same Cabinet at the time included Deputies O'Malley and Molloy who have developed a whiter than white brand of pure economic ideology since then. These modern great patriots stood idly by at that time and contributed to the greatest borrowing and spending spree in the history of the State.

Controlling the national debt is crucial to the financial targets of Government in view of the fact that it takes £2 billion annually to service the debt. The media in recent times have attempted to rewrite the economic history of the eighties in a thwarted way. Various articles seem to imply that all economic recovery started in February 1987. I want the House to consider some pertinent facts. Indeed, Deputy Roche has been a very wily contributor to this economic history debate in recent times.

Low inflation is the cornerstone of economic health. It is worth pondering on the fact that it was the Fine Gael-Labour Government who brought inflation down to 3 per cent in 1986 from the 21 per cent they inherited from Fianna Fáil in December 1982 and it has remained low ever since. The trade balance had reached a record deficit of £1.8 million in 1981 following the four years of Fianna Fáil Government and it was brought to a surplus of £315 million by Fine Gael-Labour in 1985 — the first trade surplus in 40 years. We have had a trade surplus every year since then and the surplus is increasing.

The balance of payments went into surplus in 1986 for the first time in decades and there has been a surplus ever since. The top rate of income tax was brought from 68 per cent. to 65 per cent. and is still too high at 52 per cent. Fine Gael-Labour brought the top rate of VAT from 35 per cent. to 25 per cent. in spite of the fact that the Government incurred an Exchequer borrowing requirement of 16.3 per cent. of GNP in 1981. This was brought down to just under 10 per cent. in 1987. These are major economic indicators in relation to the type of progress that was made between 1983 and 1987. That is worth putting on the record for further students of economic history.

A major ingredient of economic and financial solvency relates to the semi-State sector. Much of the borrowing requirement of the State was partially or totally hidden by the enormous borrowing of the semi-State sector. Companies such as An Post, Telecom Éireann, Aer Rianta, the Sugar Company and even RTE were running up enormous deficits. A circular in 1983 issued by the Government brought discipline and good business sense to State investment while clearly setting out the criteria required to justify State investment.This move played a significant part in reducing the borrowing requirement of the semi-State sector. I compliment Deputy Mitchell who was Minister at that time in charge of semi-State bodies. He contributed enormously to bringing semi-State bodies to a state of financial surplus, reducing their borrowing requirements, and thus reducing the overall borrowing requirement of the State.

A lot of money was spent at that time in managing the housing waiting lists which are increasing again because of Government inaction in introducing enlightened policies in housing. Local authority housing was provided for people in the greatest need through direct capital expenditure by the Department of the Environment, in giving money to local authorities to build houses and by various incentives such as home improvement grants and the £5,000 grant for people to vacate houses thus making them available for people in greatest need. These measures saved tens of millions of pounds per year while serving a very important social need in housing.

It does not give joy to any politician to tell the general public that we must continue to pay high taxation and disincentive to work built into our system because we have a huge national debt. It will take years for this management agency to bring about the necessary savings and reductions in the national debt so as to bring any meaningful reductions in personal taxation.

Deputy FitzGerald had several major economic achievements during his time in Government. He strove manfully to lay the foundations of economic recovery.All this was achieved against a continued background of reckless opposition by Fianna Fáil who told us we were monetarists, Thatcherites and book-keepers and that the expenditure plans of the day were too restrictive. On the night of the 1977 election, Deputy Garrett FitzGerald laid down plans for public expenditure control to be accepted as a precondition for Fine Gael support of the incoming minority Fianna Fáil Government.Deputy Alan Dukes, as the successor to Deputy FitzGerald as Leader of Fine Gael, took the extraordinarily brave step of enunicating the Tallaght strategy which guaranteed political stability so long as correct economic control was pursued by the Government. Would the present Leader of the Government have taken such an initiative if the shoe had been on the other foot?

I have indicated to the other side of the House as well that walking down memory lane is quite in order as long as we do not appear to be wearing out the cobblestones unnecessarily. Could we address ourselves to the legislation before the House?

In talking about the way in which the national debt is being managed it is important that we take a trip down memory lane to highlight what happened in the past and ensure we do not see a repeat in the future. I asked a very pertinent question and I know you will be very interested in my rhetorical answer to it. It would have been very easy for Deputy Dukes to have stuck to old style Opposition politics, opposition for the sake of opposition but he spurned the opportunity in favour of doing what was right for the country. Even the dogs in the street knew that the country was in a financial mess and that there would have to be bold expenditure cuts and harsh decisions if the country was to be put back on the road to economic recovery and if workers' personal taxation was to be reduced. I am proud to be a member of a party who have always put the country first.

The political and State systems have contributed to this huge problem. It now appears that the State deems it necessary to go outside the political system and the Civil Service to find people with new ideas in undertaking this major task. In 1977, the national debt stood at £3.6 billion. Shortly after this, the incoming Taoiseach, former Deputy Jack Lynch, thanked the Coalition Government under the leadership of Mr. Liam Cosgrave for handing the economy over to him in good shape. I have been prompted to go down memory lane by what I have heard from the Government benches. Various speakers from that side of the House chose to ignore the fact that they acted irresponsibly during the period 1982 to 1987.

We will get lost down memory lane. The Deputy should make sure he comes back.

Indeed, the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, I have no doubt enunciated the propaganda in vogue at that time in his constituency.

I mentioned some of the notable achievements and suggestions made at that time which have led to the proposal that we establish a National Treasury Management Agency. At the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis in 1986 Deputy Ray Burke, now Minister for Justice and Communications, said that Fianna Fáil would increase expenditure under the Public Capital Programme by £200 million. He also stated that Fianna Fáil would reduce the rate of VAT to five per cent for the construction industry, at a cost of £54 million in a full year. Not to be outdone, the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on agriculture, Deputy Michael Noonan, stated at the same Ard-Fheis that he would be prepared to spend £190 million, made up of £50 million in extra headage payments and £140 million in VAT refunds. This is the man who said the super-levy agreement negotiated by Deputy Deasy when Minister for Agriculture was the worst treaty ever signed since the Treaty of 1922. That says much for his credibility as a politician.

It was a bad deal.

Indeed, he has buried his head in the sand since and done nothing to rectify the so-called damage done by Deputy Deasy at that time. The Minister of State knows this as well as I do.

Concessions were made this year.

Not to be outdone either, their spokesman on finance stated——

Let me remind Deputy Hogan that the Minister has to be called at 6.25 p.m.

I have no doubt he will be called and I look forward with interest to hearing what he has to say.

I merely wish to indicate that another Deputy on your side of the House may wish to speak.

On 10 October, at the same Ard-Fheis in Cork, the present Taoiseach got a rush of blood to the head and announced that he would abolish DIRT which in 1986 yielded £80 million. In 1987, £60 million had to be refunded. He also stated at that time that the would be prepared to put two-thirds of income tax payers on the standard rate of tax, which was then 35 per cent, at a cost of £64 million in a full year. It was proposed in April, 1986 that we establish the nucleus of an Irish merchant fleet at a cost of approximately £25 million to £30 million. Unfortunately, those people, whom the Minister of State knows well, still have to march up and down Kildare Street to try to get the Government meet their promise of April 1986.

They are doing so because of your decision.

I am sure the Minister of State will not mind if I say he was one of those who promised that the position would be very different under a new Government. The resolution of the teachers' dispute will probably go down in folklore. The sum of £75 million as announced by their spokesperson on education, Deputy Mary O'Rourke, now Minister for Education, has still not been paid and will never be paid. That is yet another example of the way in which the Government when in Opposition sought to indicate to interest groups that whenever they found themselves in need of help Fianna Fáil would try to assist them regardless of cost and the damage it might do to the country.

It would have cost £200 million to pay off the debts of Verolme Dockyard, Irish Shipping and Clover Meats, all of which have collapsed and £90 million to have no agricultural land tax, to abolish water rates about which we will hear more in the very near future and provide greater resources to eradicate bovine tuberculosis.I could go on until 6.25 p.m. outlining more of the promises made but this will give the House some indication of the reckless policies pursued at that time. I am ashamed as a politician that we have to resort to a debt management agency to rectify some of these past mistakes.

Now that the facts are on the record I hope future generations will not have to suffer the consequences of the appalling mistakes made in the past and pay high taxes so that the national debt can be serviced. It is important that this agency be successful. Will it be an autonomous body or merely another advisory body to the Government who will either accept or reject their recommendations? The fact that the Government have to resort to an agency such as this is an indication of their inability to manage the national debt and clearly indicates that there is malaise and unease in the Civil Service. It is also clear that reforms are needed in the public service.

I hope the agency will be successful. We will be keeping a very close eye on it to ensure it is fulfilling the functions delegated to it under the legislation. I would have thought, however, that in managing the national debt the Government would not have to call on anyone other than the financial wizards, held in high esteem in the financial world, advising them since 1987. It seems that the proposal to establish yet another agency represents a vote of no confidence in their ability to do the job properly, or at the end of the day will they be calling the shots?

I would like to make a brief contribution to this Bill. When it was announced in the Budget Statement that a debt management agency was to be established there was a perception among the public that this represented some magical solution to our appalling national debt, that we would get out of our debt and the interest due on it by using some new formula similar to those applied to Third World countries. We now know that is not the reality. Up to now most of the debate on this Bill has been about civil servants and the need to create a special agency to reward those of special talent and skill, many of whom were poached away in the past to the private sector from that sector of the Department of Finance which needs people of special talent, insight and ability to deal with our financial problems.

This debate has also been about who created the debt in the first place. We have heard a barrage of accusations and counter-accusations backwards and forwards across the floor. We know borrowing began in the seventies, that in 1976 the current budget deficit had reached 4.4 per cent. of GNP but no one could at that time have visualised the monster that national debt could become. It seems there was a blissful ignorance of the effects of the debt crisis, such as we saw in the years following and such as we have endured since. Those of us who are in politics know at first hand the hardships of the past 15 years, the distress of seeing poverty take hold in every sector, after the comparative prosperity of the seventies, as unemployment increased, as businesses closed down but, further, we saw emigration soar and the inability of us in politics and outside, to acquire the funds to develop and invest in essential services needed to meet the needs of an economy in the eighties.

No matter how we take a party view of the era, the Fianna Fáil Government of 1977-81 consolidated our problems with the crazy rates of motor tax commitments in the election of 1977 and their mismanagement after that election. That Fianna Fáil Government trebled the national debt. When Deputy Garret FitzGerald took office as Taoiseach he found a disastrous economic state: inflation was sky high at approximately 18 per cent. and bank interest rates were high. He fought a valiant battle in his time to reduce inflation and bring this country back to competitiveness. Compare what happened in Opposition at that time. Every reasonable proposal was opposed not only in the economy, which was serious, but also on other equally important matters, for example, the AngloIrish Agreement and the Single European Act. No one opposite should try to deny their role in this House in the years 1977 to 1987. Their motivation was entirely party-centred. The view was: how could they be popular; how could they take action that would create a better climate at election time — not the public interest — no matter how grimly the opposite was pointed out to them. Let them not, therefore, whitewash those years because history will tell the true story.

The honourable course pursued by Deputy Dukes in recent Opposition years, inherited from Deputy Garret FitzGerald, is in stark contrast to the Fianna Fáil ethos. Our economy today and the hope and signs for the future are a result, in the main, of the public interest demonstrated by this party. However, all of that is in the past — mistakes from which I hope we have learned on all sides. I give credit to my party and to our role over those years but I also give credit to the party opposite for by and large, keeping on a course that was set in previous years. There have been positive results in those years. People who previously understood only basic economics and probably kept an eye only on their tax and on their annual increase, at the beginning of the eighties became familiar with macro-economics and took a keen interest in what exactly was happening because of our huge debt and our massive repayments of interest. Figures quoted are that £2,000 per year is paid by those working to meet the interest repayments and that the debt represents £23,000 per head of those working in Ireland.

If this agency was a genuine attempt to regulate our borrowing and debt management to ensure that it is paid off sufficiently and as easily as possible I would welcome it and say: well done, so too would every parent. Above all the scandal of our time is emigration which is running at 46,000 per annum. Most of these are beautiful young Irish men and women. Those of us who have young adults in our family are very familiar with what is happening to those young adults and their friends. Emigration is affecting every community in the country. Unhappy emigrants go away and unhappy parents, friends, grandparents, neighbours, grieve for them. Most say they will come back, that Ireland is the best place in the world to live but in their hearts they know it is unlikely because at present and according to indications this country is a wilderness, a desert for young job seekers. All the incentives and perks abroad can never compensate for being in your own land, among your own relatives, building your children's future. In no other developed country, of which I am aware has there been such a haemorrhage of young people nor has there been the level of dire poverty, which is so apparent even when walking in our city centre, let alone in those communities far removed from the centre. There are many people who believe that poverty is something that one does not tackle as a social problem and that poverty will always be with us.

None of us in politics can be proud of the Ireland we have governed or that we have in part created. We did not have the vision in the past nor the political co-operation, nor the courage as a political unit to attack our problems in a realistic way.

In passing I would refer to the debates, or the débâcles, of the past two weeks in the context of the lack of co-operation and ability to concentrate all our resources on the fundamental problems.It is very depressing. Many people have said to me in the last two weeks: "I do not know what is happening in there. Why are you wasting time, why are you arguing, why are you nit picking on issues? Do you not know the very grave problems that are the reality of life, the day-to-day business, for people out here? We do not really care what you are fighting over, because, unfortunately, in the context of unemployment and emigration what happens there is becoming more and more irrelevant".

The nature of parliamentary action and even political successes is about party strokes, it is about opposing and taking party advantage but it is a very poor vehicle for co-operation to deal with the very real problems which will not go away and which look to this Chamber for a solution.

I would like to think that we are on course to develop those areas of life in Ireland which can create jobs and can enable our young people to stay at home and those who wish to come back. I speak specifically of developments in agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. In tourism do we realise that in many instances we are doing the right things. When I was in Montreal a couple of weeks ago I listened in to a late night radio show and I heard a phone-in to a travel writer, Steve Burbaum, who has written a book about Ireland in the nineties.The number of phone calls that came in from all over the States about his book on Ireland amazed me. Every third call was from an American who had been here and was waxing lyrical about Doyle's Seafood Restaurant or about our different golf courses. I wondered whether we are developing our tourism industry as much as we could in order to create jobs and build for the future.

I would hope that in the long run this agency would be a positive one not merely in the context of the sentiments expressed about civil servants and the facility it will offer for their retention, but for paying them appropriately so that they will not be poached.

I should like to say a sincere word of thanks to all Members for their contributions to this debate. Many of the questions raised will be dealt with in detail on Committee Stage. I might start by dealing with the order in which the points were raised. Deputy Noonan made some points about the organisational structure of the agency. He noted that we are not using the classical semi-State structure complete with board of directors.That is correct; we are not using that structure. The management of the national debt is too central a function of the Minister for Finance to be transferred outside the Minister's immediate sphere of operations. That is why the chief executive must report directly to the Minister.The organisational format we have devised is based on very detailed consideration of the issues involved and reflects a balance between the need for ministerial control and a degree of operational flexibility.

General policy responsibility for the national debt must remain with the Minister.The Deputy asked would there be a group of people in the Department of Finance duplicating the agency's work. The answer is no. The reorganisation of the Department following the agency's establishment will be a matter for me as Minister but the intention is not to have any parallel operation. That would be wasteful and probably counterproductive.What will happen, however, will reflect the fact that overall policy in relation to the national debt will remain with me as Minister. The officers in the Department who will have the role of advising me as Minister on this will, of course, interact with the agency. The necessary lines of communication, formal or otherwise, will be laid down to ensure the kind of close relationship which will provide good flows of information as well as operational freedom.

Deputy Noonan suggested there would be unusual freedom in regard to pay, conditions and numbers employed in the agency. The total size of expenses of the agency will be decided by the Minister. It is only within that figure that the agency can determine pay and numbers. The pay of the chief executive is also decided by the Minister.

As to the basis of the £35 million saving, several leading international banks have been consulted as to the feasibility of savings as a result of an active debt management policy which the agency will be required to pursue. The £35 million figure is well within the range of what is considered feasible.

Deputy Noonan asked about the Acts in the Schedule. The Acts referred to in the Schedule can be dealt with on Committee Stage, but the key functions are at (g) of the Schedule. The remaining references are, in the main, relevant to statutory authority for post office savings certificates and other similar small savings instruments. A summary of the legislation is as follows— First Schedule: (a) Section 19, Finance Act, 1930, provides for appropriation by the Minister for Finance for general Exchequer purposes of whole or part of excess interest accruing on the Post Office Savings Bank Fund; (b) section 30 (4). Finance Act, 1940, grants the Minister for Finance power to make rules in relation to the issue of savings certificates; (c) section 22 — as amended by the Finance Act, 1989 — and section 23 of the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1956, grants the Minister for Finance authority to create and issue prize bonds and set such terms and conditions as he thinks fit; (d) section 4, Appropriation Act, 1965, authorises the Minister for Finance to borrow in a currency other than the currency of the State; (e) sections 464 and 466 (1) of the Income Tax Act, 1967, allow for exemption from taxation of securities issued by the Minister for Finance; (f) section 9 (1) of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1968, grants the Minister authority to prescribe by regulation the rate of interest on deposits; (g) section 54 of the Finance Act, 1970, provides for the creation and issuance of securities by the Minister for Finance, bearing interest at such rate as he thinks fit and subject to such other conditions as he thinks fit; section 118 of the Finance Act, 1983, grants the Minister for Finance authority to engage in such transactions of a normal banking nature as he considers appropriate for the purposes of the better management of the debt; section 49 of the Finance Act, 1978, provides for the repurchase from the Post Office Savings Bank Fund and cancellation of securities created and issued by the Minister; section 6 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1970, allows for the charge on the Central Fund of expenses incurred by the Minister in relation to borrowing; section 68 of the Finance Act, 1988, authorises the Minister to do such things and take such steps as he considers necessary or expedient for the purposes of the better management of the debt; (h) sections 103, 104 and 109 of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act, 1983, relate to regulations governing the control and operation of the Post Office Savings Bank; (i) section 119 of the Finance Act, 1983, grants the Minister for Finance authority to cause to be paid out of the Central Fund during any year any deficit between interest accrued by the Post Office Savings Bank Fund and interest paid to depositors and any other expenses incurred; (j) section 32 of the Trustee Savings Bank Act, 1989, grants the Minister for Finance power to make regulations in relation to payments into and withdrawals from a special account by the trustees of a Trustee Savings Bank and to decide, after consultation with the Central Bank, the interest rate paid on Trustee Savings Bank deposits; (k) section 67 (8) of the Finance Act, 1988, provides for application of payments received into the capital services redemption account towards defraying the interest and expenses arising on the public debt; and (l) section 134 of the Finance Act, 1990, grants the Minister for Finance authority to make offers of conversion of existing Government loans into other existing Government loans or new loans.

Deputy Taylor says it is hazardous to try to forecast interest and exchange rates. This is true, but the savings come about not by speculation, as he suggested, but by adopting a risk-averse strategy in shifting between currencies and altering the interest rate mix. He mentioned the advisory committee. I would emphasise that they are advisory and any remuneration they receive will be small. They will not be making executive decisions. The chief executive reporting to the Minister will make the decisions.

Members of the committee will be carefully chosen, based on their knowledge and financial expertise. Conflicts of interest will be avoided. There are excellent people, for example, working in international organisations dealing with the financial sector, such as the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Deputy De Rossa asked why are borrowing and debt management no longer appropriate to the Department of Finance?The Department is basically a policy Department. The function of borrowing money by the Department in the name of the Minister for Finance began with the issue of national loans in the early days of the State. In those days it was a relatively straightforward function. Despite the huge growth in borrowing by the Exchequer, including the breaking of new ground in the international capital markets, the Department continued to adapt and coped very well with these increased responsibilities.

But we cannot ignore what has been happening in the past five or six years, in particular, the loss of financial expertise from the Department. There has been a spurt of growth in new debt management instruments and in the demand for specialists to manage them. Exchange controls have been all but removed. Cross-Border capital flows have increased. Deregulation has grown and markets have become more complex. As I said, the function of borrowing money in the nineties and of managing debt, particularly active management, is increasingly specialised. Financial specialists cost money. Structures must be found to accommodate these realities within the State sector.

Deputy De Rossa is concerned about confidentiality. Deputy O'Shea suggested that the fine for unauthorised disclosure of information is too low. In fact, that is not the only penalty. The reason for the limit of £1,000 on the fine is to allow access to the District Court for summary trial. The District Court trial enables the agency to dismiss the perpetrator if found guilty. Otherwise the agency would have to submit the matter to a higher court as an indictable offence which could involve a jury trial and some long delays.

Other more severe deterrents to unauthorised disclosure will be (1) the contracts of employment will include a non-disclosure clause a breach of which can be pursued under the civil law for damages commensurate with any unwarranted financial gain made as a result; (2) the Official Secrets Act which carried penalties of up to seven years in prison if a person in charge of official documents or knowledge is found guilty of unauthorised disclosure. This would apply to officials in the agency.

Deputy Seán Barrett asked why should the Minister make the appointment of chief executive? Should it not be arranged through an independent body? The selection of chief executives of State agencies is not normally arranged through an independent commission. In this instance the Minister will have the responsibility. I can assure the House that he will make his choice on the best advice available.

Deputy Barrett also questioned the need for an advisory committee. The purpose of the committee is to bring together the best experience and skills in financial services to advise and I emphasise again the world "advise"— on how the debt should be managed. What is wrong with having the best brains available from at home or abroad to help out in this task?

Deputy Barrett asked about Civil Service reform. There has been an on-going process of reform in the Civil Service over the last few years. Apart from normal day-to-day improvements in administration, there have been major pushes in two main areas. The use of information technology has greatly increased and has now penetrated beyond the old "number crunching" operations into general office administration with considerable benefits in terms of speedier and better quality administration; £35 million is being spent this year on information technology. The recent launch of the Government telecommunications network is a further example of the Government's progressive policy in this area.

On the general management front, we are implementing a system of delegated administrative budgets for Departments. This will enable Departments to allocate administrative resources, such as staff, training, computers, etc., in a much more flexible manner to fit the actual work situation. I am convinced that this major innovation will act as a powerful incentive for managers to use their new freedoms to provide a more efficient and better quality service to the public and greater job satisfaction and job "ownership" for themselves and their staff.

Deputy Rabbitte suggested that this Bill is a vote of no confidence in the Civil Service. It is not. It is a recognition of the reality of the marketplace from which Department of Finance debt management staff can be readily poached.

He asked about the responsibility of the chief executive to the Minister and says that the handling of the debt is to be given to an outside agency. This is not the case. The proposed agency will be directly under the control of the Minister for Finance.If the agency are not doing their job for any reason, the Department will become aware of it quickly and advise the Minister. Deputy Carey also referred to this matter. The reality is that this Bill has been carefully prepared to reflect in the clearest possible way that the agency must operate under the control and superintendence of the Minister and be always subject to his directions and guidelines.The necessary structures will be put in place to ensure this.

Deputy Browne asked how the members of the agency are to be appointed. The sequence will be as follows. The advisory committee will be appointed by the Minister, initially perhaps on a nonstatutory basis. Their first function will be to advise the Minister on the terms and conditions of appointments of the chief executive. When the chief executive has been appointed by the Minister, the chief executive will then begin appointing the staff of the agency.

Deputy Ferris said that the agency will have no responsibility to report back to the Dáil. The agency's reports and accounts, as audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General, will be published and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Accountability to the Dáil for the financial affairs of the agency and for debt management expenditure is being definitively provided for in this legislation. The Minister for Finance will still be responsible to the Dáil for debt management policies. I, therefore, foresee additional information coming before the Dáil, not less as the Deputy implies.

Deputy Mitchell would like to see the Bill incorporating annual debt/GNP targets for the agency to achieve. This is unrealistic. The primary function of the agency will be to obtain the funds necessary to finance the Exchequer borrowing requirement, to refinance existing debt and to obtain savings on interests costs which can be reflected in the budget. The debt/GNP ratio depends too much on happenings which would be entirely outside the agency's control: the rate of GNP growth, the rate of Government borrowing and entirely unpredictable movements in international exchange rates. As Minister, I will be setting realistic targets for the agency and monitoring their performance. I will not be setting targets which are not within their powers of attainment.

Let me conclude as follows. One of the big success stories here in the past few years has been the growth in the financial services industry. The International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) has, of course, made a very significant contribution in terms of employment potential and an awakened international confidence in Ireland as a sophisticated financial base. Alongside the growth in the IFSC there has been something of a quiet revolution in Irish financial services anyway. New technology means that Ireland's geographical position is not a disadvantage, new financial instruments have come on stream and demarcation lines between various financial institutions are disappearing. All this has led to a tremendous boost for the industry and a sure pointer to strong growth.

A side effect of all this has been the increased demand for people with skills and experience in the financial markets. Banks and other financial institutions found, as they grew, that they were short of key people at middle management level, people who had valuable experience, who, in turn, could train young entrants to the industry. Financial institutions are willing to pay for this valuable expertise and one of the logical places to look for it is in the Department of Finance.It is well known in the industry that the Department give a very good training in financial skills and a wide and varied experience. The proof of that is readily seen in the number of former Department of Finance staff who have done extemely well in the financial private sector. The result has been a continual drain from the Finance Division of the Department with people leaving, being replaced, and the replacements leaving in their turn. As I mentioned at the outset of this debate, we tried to recruit people into the Department of Finance to replace some of those who had left. This was not a success. The most suitable people did not want to leave their jobs in the private sector to work in a Civil Service environment.

A more fundamental solution is required and that is why we are establishing this agency. The debt is very large, is varied and complex but I am satisfied that a dedicated and well motivated team can manage it prudently and effectively and still produce significant savings.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 63.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Garland, Roger.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond J.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Reynolds, Albert.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Stafford, John.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.


  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harte, Paddy.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Connor, John.
  • Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
  • Cotter, Bill.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick East).
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies J. Higgins and Howlin.
Question declared carried.

The remaining Stages are ordered for Friday, 6 July, in accordance with the order of the House of 29 June last.