I intend to take Questions Nos. 47 and 83 together.
The remuneration of Sheriffs is governed by the Sheriffs Fees Orders 1926 to 1963 under which a Sheriff is entitled to 35p in respect of every certificate lodged with him and poundage of 5 per cent on the first £100 plus 2.5 per cent on the balance collected. Expenses for travel and seizure are payable in certain circumstances. The fees, expenses and poundage are payable by the defaulting taxpayer. As is the norm in financial transactions between solicitor and client, Sheriffs have at all times been permitted to retain interest on short term deposits. In effect, this interest has been a major source of their income. The operation would have become non-viable had they not been permitted to supplement their income with interest in this manner to defray the substantial costs they incur. A review of the statutory fees is in progress and I will be making recommendations to the Minister for Justice shortly for revised scales of fees. Once these fees have been improved to a realistic level, Sheriffs will no longer be permitted to retain interest on amounts held pending transmission to the Revenue Commissioners.
The relationship between the Revenue Commissioners and the Sheriffs is on a client/professional basis and is not such that conditions can be imposed on the sheriffs in relation to the location of funds which they are holding in trust on behalf of Revenue. Nevertheless, an agreement was reached with the Sheriffs in 1988 that funds would be held in a medium that permits immediate withdrawal, in full.