I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 and 12 together.
Irish Steel Limited is currently working to a viability plan which it adopted last summer. In accordance with that viability plan the company submitted an application for a £40 million equity injection and £10 million State guaranteed loan. That application was forwarded to the European Commission on 28 February 1995 for approval in the context of the State aid approval procedures under the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty. In line with normal procedure, the Commission has appointed independent consultants to examine the State aid application. I understand that those consultants' examination of the matter is at an advanced stage.
Notwithstanding the £50 million State aid application being considered by the Commission, I have put in train a process designed to enable the sale of shares in and control of Irish Steel Ltd. As I previously indicated to the House, I appointed IBI Corporate Finance Ltd. to advise the Government in this matter and satisfactory progress has been made on the issue to date. However, Deputies will appreciate that, because of the commercially sensitive nature of this process it would be inappropriate for me to make any further more detailed comment in relation to it.
The question of granting a percentage shareholding to the workforce is one of the issues raised with potential investors and they have indicated that they will consider it. IBI Corporate Finance Ltd., will continue to explore this matter with potential investors.
In general the Government is supportive of greater financial participation by workers in their enterprises in circumstances where such participation is appropriate. This year's Finance Bill includes a provision to improve the tax incentive for employee profit-sharing by increasing the tax exemption limit from £2,000 to £10,000 for approved profit-sharing.
The Government commitment to encouraging employee participation in enterprise is also reflected in the establishment of a new unit — the Unit for Partnership in Enterprise — in my Department. The objective of this unit is to assist the social partners in the encouragement of greater involvement of employees in the development of the enterprises in which they work.