Social Welfare Law Reform and Pensions Bill 2006: Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on continued anomalies affecting persons who were recipients of deserted wife's benefit.".

My colleague, Deputy Seán Ryan, has been very insistent about this amendment. He indicated that only a small number of people are affected and eloquently articulated the exact anomaly to the Minister on Committee Stage last Tuesday. The amendment proposes that the Minister deal with anomalies whereby people could find themselves in a worse situation as a result of some of the recent changes he has made. The number of people affected is declining and I ask the Minister to keep the matter under review, as he indicated he would.

I thank Deputies for taking the trouble to table these amendments. I appreciate them and will keep these matters under review. I take note of what Deputy Seán Ryan and Deputy Penrose said.

Following the introduction of the one-parent family payment in 1997 the deserted wife's benefit was discontinued with effect from 2 January 1997. The scheme for deserted wives under social insurance has been retained in that entitlements already acquired in August 1992, when the earnings limit was introduced for new claimants, and in 1997 when the one-parent family scheme was introduced have been preserved.

As Deputies know, the budget for 2006 increased the upper earnings limit for the one-parent family payment to €19,500 per year, an increase of €83 per week. As I said on Committee Stage, recipients of deserted wife's benefit with dependent children may transfer to the one-parent family payment if it is beneficial for them to do so. There are only approximately 100 deserted wife's benefit recipients on reduced rates due to earnings, of which 48 would be eligible to transfer to the one-parent family payment. I take the point that it is a small number and we will keep the matter under review.

I accept that. The number is declining and we do not want people to be disadvantaged. The amendment was designed to ensure things are updated on a regular basis.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on the effect and operation of means tests overall in the social welfare system and in particular in relation to the carer's allowance.".

We cannot propose an amendment that would have a monetary impact and this is one way of ensuring that the issue is addressed. Carers are an extremely important issue for the Labour Party and one on which we have articulated a particular vision. The amendment concerns the means test. Too many schemes operated by the Department of Social and Family Affairs are subject to means testing. It is a complex and bureaucratic system. From a socio-economic viewpoint we do not want a regressive measure but the means test has been burdensome, cumbersome and bureaucratic and has been an impediment to the recognition of carers. There are between 148,000 and 150,000 carers and just under 25,000 now get carer's allowance but not all of them receive the full amount.

It would be churlish of me not to recognise what the Minister has done for carers and, on behalf of the Labour Party, I acknowledge that. He has made substantial progress in the area. Now, just a further €145 million or €150 million are needed to abolish the means test. I know the Minister is not ideologically opposed to that but wants to ensure the money does not go to multi-millionaires. Unfortunately many carers and those for whom they care are far from multi-millionaires. Those in that category should not even think about asking the State to provide for them. If I were in that category, I would not do so but would hope my own children would look after me if they had the wherewithal.

Many of the 150,000 carers provide care on a 24-hour basis, seven days per week and 52 weeks per year. I acknowledge the situation has been ameliorated by the Minister's introduction of respite care provisions, such as raising the limit to €1,200, and his widening of its scope so more than 30,000 will now receive the allowance. I would be less than honest and engaging in political pettiness of the worst order, which the House should avoid where possible, were I not to acknowledge what the Minister is trying to do.

On behalf of the Labour Party to which the universality principle is fundamental, I urge the Minister to recognise the need for a carer's strategy in which that principle could be encompassed or embedded. All units of the Labour Party feel strongly in this respect. A local councillor telephoned me last night and told me to tackle the issue. Every family in the State is affected by the carers issue and I am deeply committed to it. In its report on carers, the Joint Committee on Social and Family Affairs, including its Government members, displayed deep commitment to this fundamental issue. I will not say when Government programmes will be negotiated but this matter will be on the clár and will not be removed. The State is saving billions of euro as a result of the unselfish and compassionate work of these people.

The carer often grows more ill than the person being cared for, or enters poorer circumstances because looking after the unfortunate person being cared for is strenuous work. This amendment would facilitate keeping people in their own homes, environments and localities, where they were born and bred, grew up, worked and are happiest. Members of the House were involved in a report of the National Economic and Social Forum under the chairmanship of Dr. Maureen Gaffney that indicated this is an important issue. The NESF also examined an area in Holland where the cost of the provision of services in the "wrap around" system, including chiropody and other services for the elderly, has dropped by up to 30% vis-à-vis putting people into institutional care. The clear outcome of the examination is that it is cheaper and more cost effective in the long term to keep people within their home environments.

At first glance the Minister may be surprised and say the amendment is the antithesis of what the Labour Party stands for. However, the universality principle is important to the Labour Party. Most carers are ordinary, working class people in receipt of other benefits. We spent much time speaking about accident and emergency units, beds and so on. This measure would free up many beds within hospitals, caring institutions and elsewhere and would be an effective mechanism. A measure to devote another €150 million to the carer's allowance would save the State between €600 million and €800 million. For this reason, the allowance is cost effective. A carer's strategy, which is important in this context, and a needs and assessment Bill have been called for. I would support that Bill on behalf of the Labour Party.

If it is good enough in Northern Ireland which has legislation underpinning the needs and assessment of carers and those being cared for, with statutory examination of circumstances, and at a time when the buzz words include North-South institutions and equality of treatment North and South, why can we not have such provision here? We should ensure this central issue is taken account of in relation to the carer's strategy. Therefore, I urge the Minister to examine this matter. I know he cannot do so today but perhaps he can over the next number of months. We should reach a consensus on the matter if possible.

I acknowledge the Deputy's commitment to this issue. In his contributions as the Chairman of the committee in question, he singled out carers as his top priority. As such and due to his patent commitment, I owe it to him to take the issue seriously.

As the Deputy said, we have made substantial progress. The means test for carer's allowance has been eased significantly in recent years, particularly with the introduction of disregards for spouses' earnings. In budget 2006 we provided for an increase in the income disregard on the carer's allowance means test to €290 per week for a single person and €580 per week for a couple from April, which will ensure that a couple with two children will be able to earn up to €32,925 per annum and still receive the maximum rate of carer's allowance. The same couple will be able to earn up to €54,400 and receive the minimum rate of carer's allowance as well as the free travel and household benefits and the respite care grant.

We discussed the possibility of abolishing the means test and I have listened to the points made. I have an open mind in terms of the allocation of funds and will keep the matter under review. If I want to invest an amount of money in the carer's allowance, the issue is one of whether it is the best use of that resource. The Deputy is correct that I will not be ideological in this regard. If a measure makes sense, I will examine it. Due to their costs, means tests are sometimes not worth having.

The respite care grant scheme was extended in June 2005 to all persons providing full-time care and attention regardless of their means. It is a universal payment to which those persons who do not receive a carer's income support payment from the Department are entitled subject to meeting the full-time carer condition. The respite care grant was increased to €1,200 from June. The number of claimants on the scheme is 24,981 at an estimated expenditure of €223 million. The number of respite care grants is 34,300 at an expenditure of €34.3 million.

I wish to raise a related point on this important issue regarding the carer's allowance and the need to make a report on a particular matter, namely, older people who look after spouses, parents, sons or daughters and are in receipt of carer's allowance. However, when they reach pension age, they are told they can have one or the other but not both. In effect, they are told that their work as carers is no longer valued. They are entitled to pensions by virtue of their ages but, before reaching that age, were entitled to carer's allowance.

This is unfair and wrong. I do not know how much it would cost the State to rectify but do not believe it would be much. It is a great injustice. We are speaking about people of advanced years who are doing extra work. The carer often becomes the person cared for due to the burden placed on him or her. Can the Minister justify this situation and what are his thoughts on the matter? Having got to know the Minister better in recent times, he is one of the more caring Ministers in the Government. However, it is a glaring injustice that people of advanced years cannot get the carer's allowance. The respite grant helps but everyone involved in caring gets it, which I welcome. Will the Minister address this issue and inform the House of how much it would cost to allow people to retain all or part of the carer's allowance, as was once suggested?

I wish to raise a few points in support of the amendment. Carers are not invisible even though some think of their work as done in the background. We all know family members or neighbours who are carers. Although they are a part of the community the amount of work they do is underestimated because it takes place in people's homes and is so great it makes it difficult for them to be active in the community. Carers are invaluable.

Sinn Féin has called for the abolition of the means test for carers. Previous speakers referred to the situation in the North and although positive changes have been made in this State, we should continue to examine the North as a model for changes to which we aspire. According to UN reports this country is, per capita, the second richest in the world. The inequality in this State affects many carers who provide an essential service. The State continues to expect people to undertake this work and Deputy Penrose has referred to possible savings of €800 million.

I know of young people who are carers and their lives and careers are on hold. These people seek recognition of the work they do and the changes that have taken place over recent years are insufficient. We should eliminate the means test for carers and calculate how much this would cost, taking into consideration how much the State saves in the long run.

I understand the point the Deputies are making. I examined the half rate allowance before the budget, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Social and Family Affairs, but I was unable to implement this measure. Instead, I increased the carer's allowance to €200. The State non-contributory pension is now €182 and the carer's allowance for those over 66 years is €200.

The reason I could not implement this measure is because it would extend to other categories and I was unable to confine it to State contributory or non-contributory pensions. The half rate would also have to be offered to many other categories and this would lead to a substantial bill. This would also break the fundamental rule of the welfare system, which allows one to move to a higher payment. This is easy to administer and works well throughout the system. We examined the proposition for the half rate allowance because, in theory, the idea suggested works well. If one wishes to continue caring beyond 66, one can receive the higher carer's allowance. We must try to implement additional measures in this area and we will continue to monitor the situation even though the one payment principle makes it difficult to change.

I met the Caring for Carers organisation yesterday. This group, based in County Clare, impressed upon me the need for a strategic approach. I look forward to meeting this group and other organisations to see how we can make progress. At present my Department considers carers as a group needing income support. Some argue the payment should change to a more formal structure of compensation, such as a wage or salary. This is a major change which we have not made at this point but which will be kept under review.

I urged the Minister to meet the Joint Committee on Social and Family Affairs so that consensus can be reached and progress can be made. Following his commitment to do so, I withdraw amendment No. 2.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on a statutory indexation of disregards.".

The Minister replied to Deputies Stanton and Seán Ryan on this issue on Committee Stage, stating that the increases have been far in excess of the consumer price index. However, this amendment refers to disregards rather than mainstream benefits. I refer to the inflexibility of the system and the low threshold of secondary benefits. The threshold for the retention of secondary benefits, such as rent supplement and back to school clothing and footwear, has remained unchanged since 1994 at €317.43, equivalent to £250. This was never linked to inflation, which would have increased by €123 to €430. This can result in a real loss of income if wages on offer are above this threshold. The Minister's predecessor made changes to the conditions for eligibility for rent supplement and this exacerbated the situation. Under the amended rules, a couple was ineligible for rent supplement and various training programmes if one person worked full-time, or 30 hours, regardless of wages.

A report was written by Conor Ryan of the Blanchardstown Area Partnership. It considered the barriers to those in receipt of rent supplement, living in private rented accommodation and intending to find employment. I highly recommend this document and commend its author. It examines the nature and prevalence of barriers to employment in areas with national employment action plan clients. It provides case study detail on FÁS and the national employment action plan clients, providing a brief outline of entitlement conditions that apply to rent allowance or medical cards. Many of us do not have time to investigate these cases although we meet such people at our clinics. Disregards are an issue, especially in respect of the inflexibility that arises when they are not updated regularly.

The Minister may not wish mainstream payments to be included on the statutory indexation but could include the disregards. Indexing the disregards would ensure that poverty traps would not emerge as the unintended consequences of a positive change made by the Minister. When the Minister is criticised by Deputy Crowe, Deputy Stanton or me he must wonder why we are complaining if he has granted an increase of €30, which is well in excess of inflation. When the Minister has taken two steps forward, the unintentional consequences of his action move us one step back. It happens because the disregard that enabled those people to retain a secondary benefit is not concurrently moved.

The Minister's reply is that he cannot increase it by 15% or 20% with inflation at 3% and I agree with him. I suggest tying the payment to the consumer price index.

Deputy Stanton made a good point. Many people on contributory and non-contributory pensions receive the fuel allowance. The €9 a week is a lot better than what it was but it is still not enough. I remind the Minister that the last three week period was one of the coldest spells of the winter. The Minister may say this is the winter and when we were young, all of December, January and February was cold. People are used to the climatic change which has resulted in a balmy January.

I am worried that the number of contributory pensioners in receipt of the fuel allowance from the Department has dropped every year since 2003. Electricity prices have sky-rocketed by more than 40% in the past four years and the price of gas was increased by 25% in October. There are now 707 fewer contributory pensioners eligible for fuel allowance than three years ago. In 2001, 23% of contributory pensioners received the fuel allowance and this has dropped to fewer than 19%, at a time when people regard the Government as being awash with money and the Exchequer is bloated. They ask me to bring this to the attention of the Minister. This scheme should be reviewed in terms of the statutory initiation of the disregards. A contributory pensioner with an ancillary pension from a local authority, the ESB or CIE, for example, of more than €51 per week, will lose the fuel allowance. The demographics indicate the number of people aged over 66 is rising so the numbers receiving the fuel allowance should be increasing but are decreasing. The reason for the decrease is that the threshold of €51 has not been changed. A county councillor from County Kilkenny contacted me yesterday on this point. He asked if I had done anything on this issue. I was glad to be able to tell him I was on top of this issue because often that is not so. The threshold of €51 has not changed in five years.

The number of pensioners is unknown but 707 fewer contributory pensioners are now eligible for the fuel allowance than three years ago. They may be losing the fuel allowance because the €51 threshold has remained stagnant with no indexation over the past five years. A pensioner in receipt of a pension of €51.50 does not qualify for the fuel allowance and loses out on the payments. The fuel allowance is worth €9 a week. In some cases, the more a person earns, the less they receive.

It is difficult to ignore the essential point made by Deputy Stanton that those people have made their contributions over many years — otherwise they would not be in receipt of a contributory pension. If they had not worked in contributory employment, they would not be in receipt of a pension from the ESB or Iarnród Éireann. The pensions from Iarnród Éireann are very poor. It must have been the worst pension scheme ever and every Deputy in the House will agree. My father worked for the local authority but his pension was certainly better than the pension received by people who had responsible positions such as driving trains in Iarnród Éireann and Córas Iompair Éireann. This is a significant point for many people who worked in that organisation.

I ask the Minister to address the issue of the fuel allowance and the threshold of €51. I acknowledge the fair point he has made that if indexation was applied to everything, many people would lose out. I ask him to confine it to the ancillary allowances and benefits.

My colleague, Deputy Penrose, has made many points on my behalf and these were raised on Committee Stage.

I refer to the case of a gentleman in receipt of a small occupational pension. His wife is currently in receipt of the non-contributory State pension. His occupational pension means he exceeds the income limit for the fuel allowance. It also reduces his wife's non-contributory pension by €25 per week. He regards this as a double assessment which is unfair.

On the issue of disregards, I welcome the increase in the capital disregards but this does not impact on the occupational pension. If the man dies, his occupational pension dies with him and his wife will no longer receive it. However, an anomaly exists. If a pensioner couple have, for example, capital of €56,000, and one person dies, the spouse will still be allowed access that capital. The anomaly is that of capital versus income and the small occupational pension can be a significant disadvantage as opposed to having capital.

Under the earnings disregard this gentleman's wife would be allowed earn €100 per week before her pension would be affected but she is very ill with cancer and cannot work. If the man was in receipt of a non-contributory State pension, his wife's earnings would not be used to reduce his pension. His occupational pension is used to reduce his wife's pension. These anomalies need to be examined. I ask the Minister to consider these points and come back to the House with proposals to deal with these issues which seem to be unfair.

I acknowledge that anomalies exist throughout the system and we are trying our best to iron them out, within an overall philosophy of supporting people. On the issue of indexation, the consumer price index rose by 34% in the past ten years, gross earnings rose by 65% and social welfare rates increased by 84%. I acknowledge the Deputy's point about disregards is slightly different. Nevertheless, social welfare rates have increased almost three times the rate of inflation and are substantially ahead of gross earnings. Had an indexation clause been in place for the past ten years, it would have cost social welfare recipients dearly and I know that is not what is intended here.

I also acknowledge that the disregard for lone parent's allowance has not changed since 1997 and we have now made a substantial change. It is important to retain the flexibility of being able to move disregards around. It is sometimes good policy not to increase them because it may be preferable to be able to move people in a different direction. The flexibility to move disregards and thresholds around to bring about a better social policy is probably good because it allows us to move people on to better places, as I have often explained to the House.

The increase in the capital disregard was from €12,000 to €20,000. Deputies will be aware of the new disregard of earnings of €100 and the €20 up from €7.60. The income disregard for the means test for carer's allowance has been increased from €290 for a single person and €580 for a couple. This means a couple with two children can earn €32,925. The lone parent's allowance thresholds have increased from €293 to €375 with a tapering relief included. The increase in the spouse's income disregard for entitlement to QAA has increased from €88 to €100. There has been substantial increases in family income supplement. It would not be wise to put indexation into legislation and I do not believe the Deputy is asking for that. Successive Governments in their budgets have done their best to assist vulnerable people and I hope that will continue. I take the point that thresholds and disregards must be reviewed regularly to ensure adequacy, determine whether they keep up with inflation and earnings, and examine how they contribute to moving social policy in a particular direction. I will examine the case mentioned by Deputy Stanton.

While I do not want to pursue it I want to ensure that the failure to examine disregards for a considerable time, more than ten years on occasions, does not happen again. I accept the Minister's commitment on that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on the clawback policy by the State from the estates of the deceased of non-contributory pensions where the assets were accrued exclusively or partly from savings for pensions.".

This old chestnut has been discussed for the past two years. Mr. Moran from Waterville in Cork has been in constant contact with us on the State's clawback policy from estates of deceased non-contributory pensioners when the assets were accrued wholly or partially from pensioners saving their pensions. To receive a non-contributory old age pension one is means-tested thoroughly. It is a detailed scrutiny of pension entitlement. Pensioners may build up a store of money by living frugally and saving the pension to which they are entitled. If such an accumulation exceeds a certain threshold, which the Minister increased substantially in the last budget, the money is the subject of a reassessment. This has occurred in a limited number of cases from the mid-1990s until the Minister increased the threshold in the past year approximately. Although the scope is limited, this is an important issue that has caused great distress and trauma for people who have been left behind. Some cases against the Department on how it handled the matter were won, with the appeals officer determining matters in favour of the applicants although the Minister said they were won on narrow issues.

We must examine this issue using the equitable principle of tracing money to its source. If a person wins money and it contributes to a significant body of assets, that is identifiable. This is an increase in means and if the person fails to disclose it, I do not hold any brief for that. The Minister pointed out in a recent meeting of the Committee on Social and Family Affairs that the money involved in this issue is significant, approximately €5 million per year, more than €30 million in total. Many figures were mentioned during that meeting and the Minister broke them down to make them suitable for us to absorb, which I tried to do. The Minister probably thinks I will call for that to be distributed elsewhere, and I cannot argue with that. However if one has already been assessed, saves money from one's pension and then dies, that money becomes the subject of a reassessment. The State reassesses money it has already assessed. Once money is identifiable and labelled surely it can be taken out. If there is €100,000, €30,000 of which arose from pensions savings over 20 years, that €30,000 should be exempt from the clawback. The remaining €70,000 which is unidentified or arose because of a windfall, for example from gambling winnings or accident compensation, which was not notified to the Department could be subject to the clawback.

Mr. Moran made the point that the Department is sometimes at fault because it does not tell people this situation might arise. To forewarn people is to forearm them. There has been a bad information campaign to alert people. The Department did not entertain the argument as a specific case. Some of the money that might be pertinent to this has been subject to a Supreme Court decision that it must be handed back and this may aggravate the situation. That is another complex layer. The HSE may have kept the money and now it will come back. How does that fit into this scheme? It will be an interesting and complex situation. The Department said funeral expenses and other miscellaneous outlays would be allowed. It did not appear that this happened in the case Mr. Moran pursued on behalf of his elderly friend. The independent appeals system decided in favour of Mr. Moran, vindicating the independence of the social welfare appeals office.

Mr. Moran has focused in minute detail on the core issues and brought to our attention the lack of transparency in the rules, proportionality and fairness. He feels that was how the appeals officer was convinced to rule in his favour. Under the consolidation of the Social Welfare Act new facts and logical arguments should be taken into account. In many lone parent cases the appeals officers take situations into account in the round and I am glad to see appeals are successful. I recently called for an amnesty and in the context where people can appeal this is a useful mechanism. The Department has been remiss in dealing with this issue and I urge that it be examined in a compassionate and sympathetic context. That is the least we can do.

We have debated this many times and it is complicated. It is important that people realise that if they accumulate money over a certain amount they will be liable to have a reduced non-contributory State pension. The clawback kicks in after they die. We should examine the possibility that if a person proved that he or she had no source of income other than the non-contributory payment the clawback would not apply, but if he or she had another source of income it would apply. If a person was very frugal — it would be difficult, but possible, to accumulate that sort of money — I would feel sorry for him or her because his or her lifestyle would suffer. We must examine the reason people do this. People are often afraid of getting old. They are afraid of the high costs they might have to incur in their old age if they have to go into nursing homes and so on. They are very worried about that. That is why older people very often scrimp and save all the money they can, so they will have something to fall back on if the day comes. I know the Minister is concerned about the social aspects of social welfare and this is an issue as well. Older people really worry about what will happen to them when they are on their own. Perhaps the family is not in a position to help and they do not want to be a burden, and so on. They save money and are in the position where they have cash. It is no good to them really if they die and the money is in the bank. The Department starts clawing it back and there is nothing wrong with that as it is the law. However, if a person's only source of income is the non-contributory pension, a mechanism should be found so the clawback does not arise.

An issue then is who benefits if there is no clawback. People's savings, of course, will benefit their relations. Where there is a will there is a relation, as my learned friend, Deputy Penrose, probably knows. Often there is more than one relation. They seem to appear out of the woodwork. That issue must be considered as well. It is complicated, but first we must ensure we look after our old people better and remove many of the fears they have. Then, in the cases of non-contributory pensions as the sole sources of income, the Minister might examine how the clawback might not be used.

Over the last six years the Department has reviewed 9,474 such cases. I am referring to the assets of deceaseds' estates and the number of means-tested pension cases for which the Department has assessed overpayments. The number found to have overpayments was 2,326. As I said on Committee Stage, that recovered €30.9 million. It works out at around €5 million a year, on average, with about 350 to 400 people affected per annum. An interesting point arises, which only came to my attention recently. In determining whether a deceased person was overpaid, funeral, legal expenses and capital, that is, savings and investment to the value of €10,000, are disregarded in the first instance. In addition, the standard capital allowances, as previously outlined, are applied. This means there is a special disregard of €10,000 for estates. I had not realised that. This should help and perhaps, in the future, that might be a way of tackling matters.

Deputy Stanton made the point about taking a different view as regards clawbacks, in cases where the only income is a non-contributory pension. Proof is difficult to establish in such cases and it could open up further issues for us, which I will not outline again. Enormous increases in disregards for the elderly have been introduced in recent years, particularly in the recent budget, for example the €20 change and the fact that a pensioned couple can have €70,000 and still get a maximum rate. That makes it less likely that they will have these overpayments. Increasingly we are trying to ensure social welfare means-testing arrangements do not act as a disincentive to claimants who want to become savers. We do not want to penalise regular savers in any way. At the same time we must ensure the system is fair. Obviously this will be kept under review. Keeping an eye on the €10,000 might be an angle that we could pursue.

The Minister has made a good point. I wonder whether the €10,000 has to do with the inheritance tax structure as opposed to where an agreed figure might be disregarded.

I will have to get more advice on that matter.


It is a good concept. Even if it is not in our area, perhaps we could look at it.

It is a good concept and the Minister is correct. In that context I have no hesitation in withdrawing the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 6 is in the name of Deputies Penrose and Seán Ryan and it arises out of Committee Stage proceedings. Amendment No. 7 is related, and both amendments may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on the social insurance treatment of self-employed people in receipt of the carer's allowance who are looking after ill spouses.".

I am pleased the two amendments are being taken together. It saves me having to repeat myself, which I do not want to do.

The Minister gave an illuminating reply to this on Committee Stage. I was using an example I know of, which related to Kerry. I will use one relating to Waterford in a few minutes to illustrate how important is the credit system. In the Kerry case the wife of a self-employed man had motor neurone disease. As with many couples, the man stopped working and looked after his wife. He was not self-employed on a large scale, but it kept the couple ticking over. He got the carer's allowance and was very happy about that. He was concerned that having dropped his self-employment he was no longer able to accumulate credits and there would be a big gap in his contribution record. I was seeking a carer's credit from the Minister for the man who is carrying out this work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to obviate all those issues, as outlined by Deputies Stanton and Crowe in the House this morning. The Minister told me the payment of €253 per annum was similar to the child care supplement, another issue that he was dealing with, and that this could be paid. I believe that is what the Minister said and I hope I am not misinterpreting him.

Like all Deputies and spokesmen, my colleagues bring other cases to the Minister. Obviously the job of spokespersons in Opposition is to deal with their particular areas. I have another case for the Minister to review for which I want a reply. If he does not have an answer I would like if he could get one, as this is important for the person involved. A young accountant in her early 30s at the top of her profession is self-employed. The Minister will know more about this than I do, since he is an accountant by profession. He will appreciate that someone in her early 30s is hoping to get to the top of the tree, and accountants progress. Unfortunately, she was struck down with illness. She was paying her S1s, but now, very regrettably, she will not be able to return to that profession again. However, she wants to make a social welfare contribution. As an accountant she naturally recognises, as does her family, the importance of contributions.

I am a typical Paddy as well. I might have worked for years without making contributions. Nothing would worry me until the day of the storm, when I was looking for the scolb. One has to be prepared for the storm. The storm in this case is when a person gets old and the pension evaluation day arrives. The Department looks at the record and sees so many S1 and normal contributions were made over 40 years and because of the gaps the person gets a pension that is worth peanuts. This lady wants to be able to pay her €253 a year to continue her contribution record. Unfortunately she will not be able to revert to the level of work she wanted, and for which she took articles in accountancy and qualified. I want to ensure she can make her contribution of €253 per annum through the voluntary contributions system so when the day of reckoning comes, she will at least have a pension. As an accountant, the Minister knows the amount is minuscule. Like many of us who went into politics, the Minister might be considerably better off if he had continued as an accountant. I say this as someone from a legal background who would probably be considerably better off had he continued in his former occupation. However, a politician's calling relates to the public work he or she does, which is not often given much credit.

I was fairly pleased by the Minister's answer to the question asked about carers. Deputy Moynihan-Cronin brought that case to my attention. People are unaware of the many situations in which they can make voluntary contributions. We, and the Department in particular, have failed in not ensuring that this information is made available. As ever, the Minister's officials appear to be working hard to deal with the anomalies raised by us. I apologise for landing this anomaly on them but I only became aware of it this morning.

I hope this woman's case is covered by the guide to social welfare services. This guide drives me mad and politicians hate searching for information on page 46, but all the information one needs is contained within it. I presume Department officials are good at finding information and know on which page and in which paragraph the information is contained. I hope this guide facilitates this young woman because if it does not, we should amend the regulations.

One would not find ten people in the country facing the same situation as this young woman and I hope nobody other than her finds themselves in this situation. However, two cases in Waterford and Kerry were brought to my attention. The Minister appears to have dealt with the case relating to carers and has stated that carers can be given the credit and pay the voluntary contribution of €253 per annum. I want to ensure that this young woman, who was at the height of her professional career until she was struck down by an illness which leaves her unable to return to her chosen profession, will be accommodated within the social welfare code by means of the voluntary contributions system. I await the Minister's reply with bated breath, which I hope is in the affirmative. If it is not, I will revisit the matter and ask the Minister to change the regulations to permit her to be accommodated by the system.

I agree with Deputy Penrose. In respect of voluntary contributions, a scheme is in place whereby a self-employed person who has paid contributions over the years and moves into full-time employment can make a yearly payment. People should be forewarned about this. I have been self-employed all my working life and nearly lost my entitlements and employment stamps when I entered this House. The matter was raised at an Oireachtas committee and I used my case as an example. I thanked the Department officials who gave me very wise advice, which I heeded.

Deputy Ring must have been giving out that day.

It should be noted the number of self-employed people who will lose their entitlements because they do not know about this scheme which allows them to make a yearly voluntary contribution to the State. The Department should advise people of the existence of this scheme and let them know that if they make contributions as self-employed people and then enter full-time employment as PAYE workers, they can hold on to their entitlements to a pension by means of this scheme.

I, like Deputy Penrose, acknowledge that the Minister has done a fairly good job in respect of increasing benefits for the numbers of people who give up work to look after loved ones. He has raised the period for which carer's benefit is payable from 15 months to two years, which is welcome. The increase in the number of hours that full-time carers can work outside the home from ten to 15 hours is another welcome development. The Minister has not done too badly in respect of carers, although a few anomalies still exist.

I will write to the Minister and his officials about a case involving a person in my constituency who gave up work in the US and returned to this country to look after loved ones but was refused the carer's allowance because they had worked outside the State. However, this person was an Irish citizen, who was born and reared in this country, and should have been considered for the carer's allowance. The Minister and his officials might examine this case. As Deputy Penrose noted, these cases are not numerous. One will only encounter the odd exceptional case. It is terrible that someone such as my constituent would return home to look after a loved one and find that he or she is denied the carer's allowance. I will write to the Minister who might take this case up with his Department to see if anything can be done for this individual.

I will speak briefly about children as carers, an issue raised by me at a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Social and Family Affairs. The Minister gave a commitment during a previous Question Time and at that committee meeting to examine this matter and take action. This is a very important issue which demands a cross-departmental response from the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Social and Family Affairs and, possibly, the Department of Education and Science.

Will the Minister initiate debate on this issue at Government and Cabinet level to ensure that the scandal of children being forced to care for parents or siblings and possibly carry out many intimate tasks at a very young age to the detriment of their education and life chances is addressed? The Carers Association and other groups are very concerned about this issue and have brought it to our attention on a number of occasions. If tackling this issue was the only action taken in respect of carers, it would be worthwhile.

The Health Service Executive should be responsible for supporting children who care for loved ones. If I recall correctly, the Minister said at a meeting of the Committee on Social and Family Affairs that it was not a case of paying children to be carers. We want them to be relieved of the burden of caring for their relatives and for personnel to be made available to ensure that care is made available to people who need it in their homes. I understand that some child carers are as young as 12.

In respect of the case referred to by Deputy Penrose involving the accountant who has, unfortunately, been unwell, paragraph 2.7 on page 30 of the guide to social welfare services deals with voluntary PRSI contributions. According to this paragraph:

If an employee or self-employed contributor is no longer covered by compulsory PRSI and they are under the age of 66, they may opt to pay voluntary contributions (VCs). These can help maintain or improve a person's pension entitlements, but they do not provide cover for short-term benefits.

The Deputy is aware of this. To become a voluntary contributor, a person needs at least 260 weeks of PRSI paid either in employment or self-employment. The person must apply within 12 months at the end of the tax year during which he or she last paid PRSI or had a PRSI credit. It is difficult to pronounce on the case referred to by Deputy Penrose without knowing all the facts but, if the Deputy wishes, we will examine the case when all the facts become known to us. A total of 260 weeks adds up to more than five years. If the woman in question paid contributions as an employed or self-employed accountant, she could continue to pay them while she is ill. This is the best advice I can give at the moment.

Is it mandatory to give 12 months' notification or is there some room for discretion? This is where the provision could fall down because people may not know about its existence. I know that notification cannot be open-ended but is there room for discretion? I hope Department officials treat such cases with a measure of discretion. I know that the 12-month notification rule exists because the Department is attempting to gather information. This woman's case is particularly sad and I urge officials to treat it with whatever discretion is available.

I am advised that a measure of discretion will be exercised in this case, although I am not sure of its extent.

I thank the Minister.

The woman may also qualify for other benefits. In respect of the case raised by Deputy Ring, the Deputy is aware that the habitual residency rules apply to carers who have worked outside the State. If someone enters this country to become a carer, the Department must assess whether he or she meets the requirements of the habitual residence clause. I do not think we can do much in this area without dealing with the whole HRC issue, which is currently under review. Some 1,446 people pay the voluntary class S contribution of €253 per annum. While the figure is low, there appears to be an ongoing trend upwards in the number of people paying the voluntary contribution.

Deputy Stanton referred to young carers. I agree that special help, advice and support is essential for young carers who are caring for a parent in particular. I recognise that services must be put in place to support the household. We must ensure young carers remain at school. These services include home help, public health nurses and home care packages generally. I said on Committee Stage I will take an interest in the issue. I will try to find out how many people are involved. There should be plenty of household supports so the young person can remain in school.

I thank the Minister for the level of interchange on Committee Stage and Report Stage, which is useful. The Minister is quite open in trying to deal with issues, which is why we do not try to be sneaky about taking advantage of someone who tries to participate in debates in a wholesome way. His reply is interesting as far as self-employed people are concerned. I am self-employed and, even though I have done accountancy and so on, we sometimes omit to follow through on what are our rights. The Minister's officials have apprised me as a result of a recent question that if I keep up my other contributions and if I am alive when the day of reckoning comes——

The Deputy will be a rich man.

I suppose my wife will be rich because I probably will not last that long. It is important to be aware of these matters. The two cases illustrate the importance of information. Some officials might say that one cannot move on the 12 month period, but I hope there will be flexibility. If someone has an illness that threatens their livelihood, the last thing they might be concerned about is voluntary contributions. I hope this case will be pursued and I know the Deputy involved will pursue the matter so that it does not meet with the bureaucratic impediment. As this debate has been useful, I will withdraw amendments Nos. 6 and 7.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on introducing a disregard of income from Family Income Supplement when applying the spouse means test for the Household Benefit Package.".

The Minister was probably surprised that I produced this example. He was probably bored by these types of amendments on Committee Stage. Perhaps if I were in his position, I would go mad as a result of all the amendments being tabled. I assure him that I am not doing so to score points. Our job is to point out where we can improve legislation and improve the availability of benefits for people. Generally, when people reach this stage, they need all the help they can get. If there is a little quirk or anomaly in the system, it is our duty to iron it out because we are sent here as legislators. One might say that some of it is "parish pump" talk, but one often finds the basis for the best legislation at "parish pump" level.

I will use the example of Jack and Jill, a married couple with two children. Jack receives an invalidity pension and his wife works three days a week over 19 hours to supplement the family income. On the other days, she cares for her husband who is ill, which is why he is receiving invalidity pension. She works over 19 hours, therefore, she can apply for FIS. These are the parameters that apply. The family qualifies for the free schemes on the basis of Jack's invalidity pension. As he is an invalid, the household benefits package applies, once his wife's earnings do not exceed €220 a week. Because she worked three days a week for €220 and had two children, she qualified for FIS. However, her income from the family income supplement will be counted as means for the household benefits package. This means she loses the household benefits package. I believe this is an unintended consequence of the scheme.

Someone on invalidity pension who is quite ill will qualify for the household benefits package. If the person's wife works 20 hours a week, say, four hours a day, the family will be entitled to family income supplement because she may be earning €9 an hour, or €118 a week, but the income from family income supplement is thrown into the pot in the assessment for the household benefits package. The fact that the income from FIS denies the family its entitlement to the household benefits package is an oversight which undermines the whole purpose of FIS.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister on the advertising campaign he has undertaken to ensure the FIS mechanism, and the importance of the scheme as a supplementary form of income for many families who have relatively low incomes, is being made known.

I heard Deputy Ring compliment the Minister recently. As it was the first time I heard him pay such a fulsome tribute, perhaps the Minister should be grateful for it.

He took on board my advice.

Perhaps it is the west of Ireland air.


There were no photographs of the Minister which was the Deputy's bête noire in regard to his predecessor. He used to become apoplectic when he would see photographs. It used to send him off the rails. He admonished the Minister’s predecessor in fairly forthright terms, as only he can.

The Minister is doing his job in regard to FIS, which is welcome. However, one of the unintended consequences should be reviewed. The solution is simple, namely, to disregard the income from FIS in the means test for the household benefits package.

I welcome the way in which FIS is being promoted through the advertising campaign. It will be interesting to see what the take-up will be. We all have people coming to our clinics on a weekly basis who are in dire straits financially. They find it a great help when we inform them about family income supplement.

I have a question for the Minister on family income supplement which he may be able to answer. It is linked to the new child care supplement. Is someone from Spain who is working here on a low income and who has three children in Spain entitled to claim and receive family income supplement if their income levels are in order? Is there anyone from outside the State, who is working here currently claiming and receiving family income supplement? Does it come under the same umbrella as the child care supplement in line with family payments under EU agreements?

In regard to Deputy Penrose's example, what would the Minister suggest a family do in such a situation? The family income supplement is supposed to benefit a family but if the family in the example Deputy Penrose gave avails of it, it will not benefit and its income will be reduced. That is an anomaly and a large number of people do not avail of the family income supplement. Is this one of the reasons families do not avail of the family income supplement? Would the Minister recommend that families do not avail of the family income supplement which is supposed to support people on low incomes? I am interested to hear his reply.

It is a crazy situation and it is the role of an Opposition spokesperson to raise it. I commend Deputy Penrose on coming up with this example. While it may be rare enough, it does occur. I am interested to know how many families are in the same situation because we know there is a low take-up of family income supplement. In the majority of cases, people are not aware of the supplement. However, those who are aware of their entitlements are afraid to avail of them because it will affect one of their other benefits. We need to eliminate this anomaly.

Like Deputies Penrose and Stanton, I welcome the advertisement campaign. It is an issue I have raised on many occasions in this House. Last summer I sent out a leaflet to my constituents and the number of people who took up the scheme was amazing. I did a radio interview yesterday, following which my office received five or six queries regarding the family income supplement. The other day the Minister made a valid point that if somebody on €16,000 per year avails of the family income supplement, it is worth €5,000 per year to him or her. Thousands of people are entitled to take up the scheme. To qualify for the scheme, one must be in work and have children. However, many people who are working do not want to take up a social welfare payment, which is foolish. We should promote this scheme.

The other issue I wish to raise with the Minister, as I did the other day, is the household benefit package and the fuel scheme, which is means tested. A number of my constituents and those of other Deputies who worked for local authorities, health boards or other State agencies get a contributory pension and a small pension from the council, Iarnród Éireann, etc. Although these people have paid their dues, they are debarred from availing of the fuel scheme as it is means tested and they are over the income limit as a result of their pensions. It is an issue the Minister should consider. People who have paid their dues to the State and have a contributory pension and a small pension from the local authority or otherwise are aggravated about their ineligibility for the fuel scheme because they are slightly over the income limit. The Minister should consider this issue to be fair to people who have paid their dues to the State.

Deputy Penrose again pointed out a number of apparent anomalies. We are trying to iron out as many of them as possible. Almost 18 months ago I said the experience of Deputies, Senators and councillors — our public representatives — is a great treasure trove. I have taken careful note of every anomaly and proposal made by members of my parliamentary party and by others in this House. I have asked my officials to go through every one of those raised on Committee Stage, by members of my parliamentary party and in the corridors of the House to see if a policy lesson can be learned from those examples. There is no point trying to deal with a specific example. I will continue to audit those points to see if we can iron out those anomalies. I will not be able to iron out some of them but I will others.

I do not need an army of consultants because the best advice comes from our clinics and from the people we meet every day. I do not say that in a patronising way but that is the case. We should put the real life cases raised in the House, at committees, in party rooms and in the corridors of the House to the test in terms of policy. I give the Deputies that reassurance again because it is the best way to go. If I can tackle a range of issues brought to my attention by Deputies in a policy context and in a way which will make people's lives better and if we iron out the anomalies, that is the best contribution we can make and much better than any major reports presented to me in the course of the job.

Deputy Stanton referred to Spain in his example. The advice I have is that we would have to pay the family income supplement in that circumstance. Technically, it is a family benefit under EU Regulation 1408/71 along with the new child care allowance and child benefit. The person must be working, have an economic interest and be rooted here. If his or her family happens to be in Spain or somewhere else, he or she will qualify for the family income supplement. That is the effect of EU Regulation 1408/71. We are trying to establish the numbers in this area to track them. I do not have the numbers to hand but the child care and the child benefit numbers are not a cause of concern as they are not large. The last time I looked at the numbers, they did not greatly concern me as there is no sense that people are flocking here to get the rates to send the money back to other countries. That does not seem to be the case. We are being, and should continue to be, generous to people who come to our shores and we should integrate them, which we have a good chance of doing.

Deputy Ring pointed to something we all know. If one has other income on top of one's pension, it can cost one the fuel allowance. The Deputy asked that if the other income is small, perhaps it could be considered. That is something we can do. If the income is large, it is right one would not qualify for the fuel allowance.

The Minister acknowledged that most of the anomalies are brought to his attention by Deputies from his party and the Opposition. I raised the following anomaly with four previous Ministers. A person was in receipt of the carer's allowance as she was looking after a relative of her husband in her house. The relative was doubly incontinent and bedridden. Her husband was killed in a road accident and she qualified for the widow's pension the following week. However, as soon as she qualified for the widow's pension, she lost the carer's allowance even though she continued to be a full-time carer.

I have brought this anomaly to the attention of this Minister and the four previous Ministers. While the person being cared for in this case has passed on to his eternal reward, this anomaly should be corrected for future cases. In a reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister said there could not be many such cases and replies to other parliamentary questions stated that one could not receive two social welfare payments. There cannot be too many cases where a carer has lost the carer's allowance because her husband has died. This case involved a small farmer. Not only was this woman at a disadvantage because she lost her husband tragically, she had to employ somebody to do her meagre farm work as she was caring for her husband's relative full-time. She was penalised for the fact that her husband died. If he can, the Minister should eliminate this anomaly.

It is difficult enough being in a small party at the best of times but this morning I had a briefing from the Minister of State on the proposed charities Bill and the Committee of Public Accounts sat at the same time. I have been viewing proceedings from elsewhere in the House and I wish to comment on amendment No. 8.

On Second Stage I stated that it was unfortunate that we were dealing with the Bill without hearing firm proposals from the Minister in regard to the combination of child dependant allowance and family income supports. Many of us on this side of the House hope that those proposals will come forward as soon as possible.

With the public information campaign now proceeding on the family income supplement, FIS, has the Minister set himself benchmarks in regard to how the uptake of FIS might increase in the coming year? We are aware that the current uptake may be as low as 30%. When I questioned the Secretary General of the Department on the uptake recently I was surprised to learn that the amount put aside in the Book of Estimates coincides with the amount that was paid out in the preceding years. If we are serious about FIS we must have a ballpark figure of people's entitlements if they choose to take it up fully. I suspect the impact of the Minister's publicity campaign will require him bringing a Supplementary Estimate before the House later in the year. Will he indicate when this will be delivered and how much extra he thinks will be required as a result?

In reply to Deputy McCormack, I do not want to go over the debate about the half rate again as I dealt with it a few moments ago. In the example the Deputy gave, the person concerned would not necessarily have to lose the carer's allowance. She could keep the carer's allowance, which is now €200 if she is over 65 but she would not be entitled to the widow's pension. It would be one or the other. It depends on how one says it. She could, in theory, keep the carer's allowance of €200, which is higher than the widow's pension of €170.

There is €13 of a difference for caring.

I take the point. We will not go through it again. We had a good debate a few moments ago on the reasoning behind not making two payments. Deputy McCormack may wish to look at the transcripts of that debate. I will find another occasion to go through the matter with the Deputy if he wishes.

In reply to Deputy Boyle's question on the FIS, 17,445 people are currently in receipt of this payment. The number has been increasing. It is difficult to put an estimate on it but one guesstimate is that there may be another 20,000 people who are entitled to it. We have had a very good initial response to our advertising campaign. I will report to the House as soon as I have some numbers. I do expect the number to increase dramatically.

On the Department's double payment rule the Minister maintains it is not possible to pay the widow's pension at the same time as the carer's or other allowance or pension. Is this rule set down in legislation or is it more of a convention?

It is in legislation.

We have had a good debate but I forewarn the Minister that I have prepared a booklet of social welfare anomalies. That is all I will say to him.

A best-seller.

It will be a best-seller. I do not want it to be a best-seller, I want to see the pages disappearing out of it as quickly as I print them.

It would be a better seller if the problems were solved.

Deputy Penrose will have to vote for the budget.

Vote for the budget. With due respect, I have referred to eight or nine of the anomalies in the amendments. In fairness, the Minister cannot deal with them today because, as he said, the pot is gone. I have acknowledged that the Minister is trying to deal with a complex area in a far more caring way than did his predecessor. In that context I will withdraw the amendment because I trust the Minister will examine the matter.

I do so with this caveat, FIS is important and if somebody looking after a person in receipt of invalidity pension gets FIS and this deprives him or her of the household benefits package we are dealing with a circular bird. As Deputy Crowe stated, people are encouraged to apply for FIS but it may result in them losing their household benefits package. This pushes people into an either-or situation. We want to ensure that whatever they get helps them and anybody who is an invalid and is not able to work should find the household benefits package a useful adjunct. If I recall correctly, the Minister said the household benefits package for a family is worth about €980 per year, which is about €19 per week. We acknowledge that this is worth something.

The average FIS payment is about——

I am talking about the household benefits package.

The household benefits package is worth €19 per week but if a woman got €30 in FIS she would lose €19 in the household benefits package. There is an old saying in Westmeath that sometimes the head is not worth the wash. That may well be the case here. In this context I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 5, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"1.—The Minister shall within 6 months from after the passing of this Act prepare and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report on ensuring Parents on Child Benefit Book Payments claim their final child benefit payment.".

This is an unusual situation. Following an investigation of the matter, the Minister was made aware by his officials that 1,800 people do not claim the final payment in respect of the last month of their youngest child. It only affects those people on book payments. The people who use modern electronic means of transfer are not affected. The officials were quite adamant about this. I watched them on Committee Stage. Body language can reveal a great deal. They were adamant on this point.

The problem arises when students finish the leaving certificate. I am quite sure the book only runs from June to May and I am not usually that far wrong. The officials suggested that people just need to go to the post office but in order to get the final payment people may well have to get a certificate from the school to confirm the student's attendance. Students can drop out at any stage. I contacted the Minister about a case where a young girl dropped out of college but returned to school to gain extra points. The reply stated that child benefit would not be paid because she was not in recognised educational establishment. The Minister cannot tell me this does not happen because it does. It has been shown that 1,800 people do not claim their final child benefit payment. We are saying information in this regard should be furnished to the people concerned.

The one reason we will vote against the Bill at 1.30 p.m. is the Minister's proposal to abolish the pre-retirement allowance. We did it on Committee Stage and we will do it again. We are wholeheartedly against this unwarranted proposal. It is one of the only ideological arguments the Minister has against us. We can usually reach a consensus but in this instance the Minister indicated he would not compromise. We voted against the proposal on Committee Stage. We are consistent on this. We believe it is the wrong move. It is a fait accompli and therefore we are voting against the Bill because of the position the Minister has adopted on the abolition of the pre-retirement allowance.

As it is now 1.30 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That Report Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 43.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.


  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Browne and Curran; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.