——with which somebody can provide for a family and have some hope of acquiring a home of his or her own, as is right.
It is extraordinary that in this Bill Fianna Fáil has used all of the ingenuity available to it, via the parliamentary draftsmen, to include in the remit of the Bill very low paid public servants, including people such as cleaners working on a part-time basis. They will be hit with reductions in pay of a minimum of 5%. However, when it comes to Anglo Irish Bank, the Government has used the powers and cleverness of its parliamentary draftsmen to exclude its staff from such reductions. There has been considerable talk by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance about fairness. As I said in the discussion on the previous amendment, the Minister for Finance has talked about war and said that we were in an economic war. On Sunday night he said that he did not want to open a second front in the war against the public service and he did not want that war to extend to the commercial semi-State bodies.
It is very difficult for most people here, including Members of this House, who are taking significant pay cuts and paying pension levies along with all the other people paid out of the public purse to have the people who are largely responsible for the cause of the war exempted by means of parliamentary cleverness. Earlier the Government Whip said:
Neither Anglo Irish Bank nor NTMA is subject to the levy. The former does not come within the definition of a public service body covered by the Bill as it does not have a public service pension scheme.
Nothing in this legislation would prevent the addition of Anglo Irish Bank and the Labour Party has obtained senior legal advices to that effect. This is a conscious political decision by Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in government to target nurses, gardaí, clerical assistants and everybody in the public service bar members of the Judiciary — which we have already discussed — and employees of Anglo Irish Bank. Where is the fairness in that for the Minister? Where are Fianna Fáil's republican credentials for the men of no property when the people at the very top of Anglo Irish Bank, who have had a cap on their salaries of between €300,000 and €500,000 put in place, are to a significant degree responsible for the plight we are in? Where is the fairness and justice in that?
If the Government wished, it could seek to extend the remit of the legislation to the other banks because in the various banking legislation dealing with the credit institutions and dealing with the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and NAMA, but particularly in the legislation relating to the covered institutions, the powers of the Minister for Finance are almost completely limitless. In law he is a tsar of the covered institutions. He is even more of a tsar in terms of his control and power over Anglo Irish Bank.
Let us remember the Minister has gone around the world claiming that unlike in France and other countries, the public service in Ireland has taken these cuts on the chin, with only small demonstrations and small strikes for a day yet on the other hand there is a major commitment by the public servants themselves and public service union leaders to say they recognise that the economy is in a difficult place and they want to play their part. The Government claims that the only falling out it has had with public servants is over the mechanism by which that burden would be shared by everybody, including public servants.
However, what do we find in this legislation? We find that Anglo Irish Bank is excluded. Shame on Fianna Fáil for imposing a cut on nurses, teachers, special needs assistants, doctors, clerical officers, assistant principals, principal officers and Secretaries General, but excluding Anglo Irish Bank. Where is the logic in that? Where is the fairness in that? It is almost as though the Minister for Finance wishes to test the resolve of public servants by trying to find out how much they will take without protesting so that he can go to France and point to the traditions of 1798 and the French Revolution but claim that we do not have that in this country. He can claim that our public servants will take almost anything yet we will exempt Anglo Irish Bank. In France and other countries, even the UK, there has been a serious attempt to impose restraints and conditions on bankers who have transgressed.
We are not talking about the bank staff at counter level, many of whom were duped by the leaderships in their banks into putting their life savings into bank shares that are now worthless. We are talking about the top echelons, the Seánies and others in Anglo Irish Bank, who were so friendly with the former Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, and who rushed to the Galway tent and every other Fianna Fáil function to say "There is one motherland and one fatherland". We have Fianna Fáil on the one hand, and Anglo Irish Bank and the developers on the other hand. This is the golden circle. The Bill protects the golden circle yet again.
Many Anglo Irish Bank staff members have lost their savings because they were invested in the bank's shares. When I questioned him at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, Donal O'Connor, the chairman of the bank told me that people at senior management levels in the bank are heavily compromised because at the height of the property boom they became players and were taking stakes in the bank's unwise property developments.
We read in today's newspapers — I wish that the Minister could deny it — that the person who has been the internal auditor at Anglo Irish Bank since 2005 has been reappointed to that position. Perhaps that particular auditor consistently blew the whistle internally in the bank but was not listened to by his superiors in the bank. However, it seems extraordinary given that the Government has taken control of this bank. The bank is not permitted by the European Central Bank to lend until next July other than on roll-over projects to developers. So we have a zombie bank and have committed ourselves to €24 billion in NAMA bonds for this bank. We have already invested €4 billion, which we have informed the European Union and the European Central Bank is money that is gone. We are being asked to pony up some time after Christmas — probably in late January — at least another €4 billion and up to €6 billion into a dead bank.
As I have said previously, the Labour Party's reservations about the guarantee centre on two banks, Anglo Irish Bank and the Irish Nationwide Building Society — a tiddlywink building society that is in for €8 billion of rescuing and €2 billion of a cash injection shortly when its special meeting is held. Is the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, serious about excluding the party that has led to the core collapse in the reputation of Ireland internationally? If one follows our bond spreads every day, one will find they are way over what they ought to be. Even with the extreme financial reduction measures we are discussing today, our bond spreads are considerably higher than Italy's bond spreads because the international bond markets know that we have a mess that we have retained and Fianna Fáil has kept to itself, in Anglo Irish Bank, a bank we are nurturing along and pouring money into as if it were a dead drain.
Now we find that nurses and teachers are to bear this reduction in salary while those in Anglo Irish Bank get away scot free. If the Minister said he felt terribly sorry for the young people who went to work in Anglo Irish Bank in the last ten years, worked hard, did what they were told and were not really responsible for the mess, but he would apply the reduction to the higher paid in Anglo Irish Bank — for example, anyone earning more than €100,000 or even €150,000 — I could understand it. One might feel sorry for the staff on the lower levels who were not responsible for what went on. Instead, the top directors, the chairman and everyone else in Anglo Irish Bank are being protected.
This Government ought to recognise the difference between right and wrong in terms of governance. This further protection of Anglo Irish Bank is a step too far and the Labour Party is proposing that Anglo Irish Bank be included in the list of organisations to which these provisions will apply. It is owned and totally controlled by the State. The Bill should be amended to include those in Anglo Irish Bank in the measures being inflicted on a range of public servants to reduce their salaries.
Professor Honohan yesterday indicated that he would favour a parliamentary inquiry along the lines of the DIRT inquiry, together with an oversight commission, as I suggested during the debate on the NAMA legislation. This would bring in outside experts to tell us what went wrong in this and other banks. What Professor Honohan has to say is welcome. Here is the proof of whether those in Fianna Fáil can recognise financial right from wrong. Why should everybody in the public service take the hit? It is those in the public service, and every other taxpayer in Ireland, who are at the moment paying dearly for Anglo Irish Bank.