Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 9 to 45, inclusive resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 46 to 54, inclusive, answered orally.

Economic Forecasts

Jack Wall

Ceist:

55 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance when he will set out his forecast GDP growth for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41643/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

156 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if it is possible to achieve economic growth over the next three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42037/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 156 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have set out the Department of Finance's latest GDP growth forecasts in the Information Note on the Economic and Budgetary Outlook which was published on 4 November.

In relation to the short term economic outlook, growth has stabilised in 2010 following two years of sharp declines and this provides the basis for economic growth into 2011. Of particular importance has been the continued robust performance of exports which exhibited real growth of 7% in the first half of 2010.

Looking to the later years of the forecast, after a temporary slowdown in 2011, world economic growth particularly in the advanced economies with whom we predominantly trade, is expected to accelerate. Against this, domestic demand will make a weak contribution to economic growth as consumption is forecast to remain muted because of households repairing their balance sheets. Consumption is, however, expected to recover when economic growth is seen to have taken hold, with some reductions in the savings ratio assumed over the forecast.

In order to ensure that we capitalise on the rebound of global growth it is imperative that we continue to regain competitiveness. To this end, the Four-Year Plan to be published later this month, will outline a programme of structural reforms which will help to further restore competitiveness and support sustainable economic growth.

The Real GDP growth projections which are based on a correction in the Budget of €15bn over the next four years are as follows: for next year my Department has forecast GDP growth of 1¾%, 3¾% for 2012, 3% for 2013 and 2¾% for 2014.

Insurance Industry

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

56 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the pressure by insurance companies to raise premiums; if he has undertaken any analysis of the impact and of the justification of such increases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36463/10]

At the outset it should be noted that neither I nor the Central Bank can prohibit or restrict an insurance company from increasing its annual premium rates, as this is a commercial decision for the company in question. I am aware of increased pressure on insurance premiums in recent times particularly in the household insurance area. Much of this is due to the unprecedented level of claims which the insurance industry suffered last winter. The insurance industry estimated that between last November's flooding and the big freeze at the start of this year they have paid out about 550 million euro worth of claims. The industry has put the level of claims in further context by indicating that the insured cost of these two weather events exceeded the total cost of all serious weather events that have occurred in the last decade estimated at 358 million euro.

However, even in advance of the weather-related claims, market analysts had identified and reported on a number of important market developments that were expected to lead to upward pressure on premiums. For example, the 2009 Standard & Poors report on the non-life insurance market warned that the next few years were likely to mark a testing time for Irish non-life insurers. In particular the report highlighted that underwriting profitability would become much more important due for example to declines in global stockmarkets amongst other factors. The report noted the importance of price discipline to ensure the long-term economics of the insurance marketplace.

It should also be noted by the Deputy that from a prudential perspective insurance companies are required by the Central Bank of Ireland to meet their capital requirements on an ongoing basis in order to ensure the sustainability of their business. In these circumstances when they are exposed to the level of claims incurred in the last 12 months, it is inevitable that their capital position will suffer and put pressure on prices. In this regard, it should be noted that the new prudential regime for insurers in the EU known as Solvency II which will come into force from the start of 2013 will place a greater emphasis on the need to price risk appropriately than the existing regime, and will in turn require insurance companies to be more conscious of their pricing policy. This will benefit the consumer in many instances, however in circumstances where there has been a significant increase in claims, it is likely to result in higher premiums.

The Government is of course committed to ensuring that the insurance costs in Ireland are competitive and correspond to appropriate international benchmarks. In that context the Revised Programme for Government contains a commitment to review insurance costs. It is expected that this review will commence shortly.

Banking Sector

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

57 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which the Irish banking system is dependent on the European Central Bank for funding; if the ECB have communicated to him a proposed timescale or mechanism for scaling down its commitments to the Irish banking system; if ECB support for the Irish banking system is to be phased out over the course of 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41636/10]

I have no function in regard to the level of ECB lending as this is a matter for the ECB and the associated national central banks. Given the independence of the Eurosystem it would not be appropriate for me to comment on specific institutions, or indeed on the policy or approach of the ECB to the provision of liquidity support to banks in the Eurozone. The Government remains committed to supporting the banking system's access to market funding, which would serve to reduce the requirement for ECB liquidity support. As the Deputy is aware, the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme has been an important support to the Irish banking system, facilitating its access to both short and longer term funding to help maintain the overall stability of the banking sector. It complements the broad Government Strategy to restore fully the banking system and maximise its contribution to overall economic recovery.

The Deputy should note that the European Commission today announced the approval of the extension of the Scheme under State aid rules to 30 June 2011 which is the maximum period permitted for state aid approval under the European Commission policy on guarantee schemes. In addition, the ECB, in its legal opinion of 2 November 2010, has endorsed this extension to the Scheme on financial stability grounds.

Croke Park Agreement

Pat Breen

Ceist:

58 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the savings across Departments achieved by the implementation of the Croke Park agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41608/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, over the last two years, the Government has taken a series of difficult but critical steps which have generated significant reductions in the potential public service pay bill. As a consequence, the public service pay roll will be over 8% less in 2010 compared to 2009, and nearly 12% less than in 2008. These measures include the non payment of proposed general round increases under the Review and Transitional Agreement, the application of a pension related deduction of an average of nearly 7% to the earnings of all public servants and, at the beginning of this year, a reduction in the rates of pay and allowances for public servants was implemented under the terms of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act, 2009. In addition to these measures, the introduction of a general moratorium on recruitment and promotion together with incentivised early retirement and career break schemes, along with natural turnover of public servants who retire or leave, has led to a reduction in the number of public servants employed by almost 11,000 since March 2009 of which approximately 2,500 were Civil Servants across Government Departments. Despite the reduced numbers, there has been no reduction in services as productivity across the public service has been increasing.

Government policy on staff numbers in the public service is reflected in employment control frameworks for each sector of the public service. The continued application of the frameworks across the public service will result in a further reduction in public service employee numbers, and consequently the public service paybill, up to 2012.

The reduced numbers will require changes in manning levels and work practices. The Croke Park Agreement will facilitate co-operation by staff with the actions which will have to be taken in every public service organisation to maintain continuity of services.

National Asset Management Agency

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

59 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the action he is taking to ensure that National Asset Management Agency is accountable to the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41618/10]

The issue of oversight and NAMA accountability was debated extensively during the NAMA Bill and there are substantial provisions on accountability in the NAMA legislation. Section 59 of the NAMA Act 2009 makes provision for the Chairperson and CEO of NAMA to appear before a Committee of the Oireachtas, if requested to do so, which is examining matters relating to NAMA. The chief executive of the NTMA and the chief executive of NAMA appeared before the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service on Tuesday, 13 April 2010.

The Act also provides that NAMA must submit annual accounts. These will be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Committee of Public Accounts may examine NAMA on these audited annual accounts. I understand also that both the Chairperson and CEO of NAMA are to appear before the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday 18 November 2010.

NAMA is also obligated to report on a quarterly basis and section 55 makes extensive provision for quarterly reporting on a wide range of matters, including details in relation to loans. These reporting arrangements allow for transparent reporting to the extent that it does not breach the obligation placed on the agency to respect the confidentiality of customers.

The most recent quarterly report was published on 02 November and showed NAMA to have recorded a profit of €6 million for the second quarter to 30 June 2010. Copies of the quarterly reports were laid before each House of the Oireachtas as required by the NAMA Act 2009.

Banking Charges

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

60 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance his specific proposals to incentivise bank customers to more frequently use plastic cards and to reduce their use of ATM machines to access their own cash from their own bank accounts; to detail the exact additional charge he proposes the banks impose on bank customers accessing cash; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35526/10]

I have no plans for banks to impose additional charges on bank customers accessing cash. The promotion of the use of electronic payments is a key Government policy and a number of initiatives have already been taken in this regard. The longer-term objective is a significant reduction in the volume of paper-based payments in use throughout the economy. This policy is fully aligned and is developing in tandem with market and regulatory developments at EU level, including the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), the introduction of the Payment Services Directive from November 2009 and the introduction of the revised Electronic Money Directive from April 2011. In promoting this policy objective, the Government has reduced stamp duty on combined ATM cards from €10 to €5 in Budget 2009, building upon changes in the previous year's Budget. Stamp duty on cheques was also increased from 30 cent to 50 cent per cheque, to act as a further disincentive to cheque usage.

As part of the process of increasing the use of electronic payments new governance arrangements are required. I am currently considering the recommendations made by the National Payments Implementation Programme Advisory Group in their report on the possible mechanisms to further promote the development of electronic payments.

Tax Collection

Michael Noonan

Ceist:

61 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the decline in receipts from DIRT tax in the Exchequer returns published on 2 November 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41606/10]

Receipts from Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) were c. €150 million below profile in October. The DIRT yield has displayed volatility in the past, with considerable increases in recent years, from €144 m in 2004 to a peak of €654 m in 2008. The DIRT yield in 2009 was €614 m. Interest paid or accrued in respect of relevant deposits is chargeable to DIRT at a rate of 25%. Preliminary DIRT payments were made on 20 October 2010, with the balance of DIRT for 2010 due in January 2011.

The fall in the DIRT yield can be attributed to a number of factors, including: a fall in the level of deposits; a decrease in the deposit interest rates offered by financial institutions; the influence of current financial conditions on the behaviour of depositors; and the withdrawal of certain financial institutions from the retail banking market.

Central Bank Reports

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

62 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the publication of the next Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41622/10]

I am informed by the Central Bank that, although the exact publication date has yet to be finalised, as outlined in its paper ‘Banking supervision: our new approach' published in June 2010, the Central Bank is committed to publishing a new Financial Stability Review, which is to replace the previous Financial Stability Reports, before the end of the year.

Forbairt na Gaeilge

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

63 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Airgeadais an bhfuil Gaeleagras — an eagraíocht oiliúna don státseirbhís faoi choimirce na Roinne Airgeadais — fós ag feidhmiú ina hiomláine; an bhfuil ranganna Gaeilge fós á soláthar ag Gaeleagras do státseirbhísigh gur mian leo ranganna a dhéanamh; an bhfuil scrúduithe Gaeilge fós á reáchtáil ag Gaeleagras do státseirbhísigh gur mian leo scrúdú cáilithe Gaeilge a dhéanamh; ar cuireadh aon rang a bhí beartaithe ag Gaeleagras a reáchtáil ar ceal ón 01 Meán Fómhair 2010 ar aghaidh, agus más rud é gur cuireadh, cén socruithe atá ann leis an rang nó leis na ranganna sin a chur ar siúl arís; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [41531/10]

Is féidir liom deimhniú don Teachta go bhfuil Gaeleagras, a fheidhmíonn lastigh de Lárionad Oiliúna agus Forbartha na Státseirbhíse i mo Roinnse, fós ag feidhmiú. B'éigin méid áirithe cúrsaí a bhí fógraithe a chur ar athló, toisc go ndeachaigh oifigeach lán aimseartha amháin amach ar scor, chomh maith le líon áirithe oifigeach páirt aimseartha. Deimhním, áfach, go rachaidh na trialacha Inniúlachta Gaeilge a bhí fógraithe don 24 Samhain 2010 ar aghaidh, agus is féidir a rá go bhfuil iarratais faighte ó 76 Oifigeach.

Tá scrúdú á dhéanamh ag mo Roinnse i láthair na huaire ar staid foirne Ghaeleagrais de bharr na scor seo, agus ar chúrsaí eagrúcháin dá réir. Mar is eol don Teachta, ag teacht leis na srianta a bhaineann le folúntais a líonadh, cuirfear san áireamh na féidearthachtaí maidir le hath-imlonnú, ó áiteacha eile sa Státseirbhís. Braithfidh athsceidealú na gcúrsaí a cuireadh ar athló, ar thoradh an phróisis seo.

Fiscal Policy

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

64 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Finance his views on the introduction of a new fiscal framework for Ireland; if he plans to make an announcement regarding same, on budget day; his plans to propose legislation regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41642/10]

The Government will be bringing forward a range of structural reforms, including in respect of the overall fiscal process, in the context of the forthcoming Four Year Plan. In this overall context, the Government has also decided that a legislative underpinning for some of these structural reforms would be appropriate, and preparatory work in this regard is now under way.

Departmental Property

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

65 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the capital value of the property portfolio of the Office of Public Works for the year 2009 with comparative figures for the previous three years [41568/10]

The capital value of the property portfolio of the Office of Public Works is included in the Appropriation Account which is published on an annual basis. The valuation of the portfolio included in the 2009 Appropriation Account was €3.173 billion.

The comparative valuations included in the Account over the three years in question are as follows:

Cost or Valuation

Land & Buildings

At 31 Dec 06

2,607,526,739

At 31 Dec 07

2,734,997,792

At 31 Dec 08

2,874,360,897

The increase in value relates solely to property acquisitions and the inclusion of completed building projects at construction cost. No increase has been applied to the valuation of property held in the period nor has a decrease been applied in light of the recent changing economic circumstances.

The initial estimate valuation of the properties held within the ownership of the Office was formulated using various benchmarking methods. These estimates of valuation were based on numerous elements including:

building cost norms

site valuations

use of buildings, e.g.,

1. prestigious buildings were given enhanced values

2. State-owned buildings were valued on an existing use basis

acquisition cost for purchases post 1995

replacement value

Properties under the State ownership of other Ministers, for example certain heritage properties and including national monument properties, are excluded from the valuation.

Tax Collection

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

66 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the 4.1% shortfall in income tax returns for October and the 6.3% drop in the year on year performance of these returns, he will make specific provisions in Budget 2011 to stimulate the economy; if he accepts that the strategy that has been pursued by the Government so far in terms of deficit reduction has failed, which is reflected in the continued decline in income tax returns and shortfalls in Government projections for same; if he has used economic modelling to examine the effects on the economy of injecting stimulus, rather than making cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41578/10]

Income tax receipts amounted to €8.6 billion for the first ten months of the year. This represented a decline of €579 million or 6.3% on the level collected in the same period of 2009. Budget 2010 forecast that income tax receipts would decline by 2.6% in 2010. At end-October, income tax receipts were €369 million or 4.1% below target. The underperformance in income tax receipts reflects a number of factors, including weakness in the labour market, where there have been declines in pay levels, hours worked and numbers employed. Consequently, PAYE receipts are approximately €200 million below target. The bulk of the remainder of the shortfall against target is driven by DIRT receipts which were below profile for the month of October by an amount in excess of €150 million. An initial assessment of this data suggests that this reflects the decline in deposit interest rates and the high level of debt repayment contained within the savings ratio. The strategy that has been pursued by the Government has been decisive and has been clear in its priorities since the onset of the economic crisis:

To repair the banking system;

To restore the sustainability of the public finances; and

To improve the international competitiveness of the Irish economy

Much progress has already been achieved on all three fronts. The creation of NAMA has enabled the banks to cleanse their balance sheets of toxic assets and return to more normalised lending. Both Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland have committed to providing €3 billion per annum to SMEs. Competitiveness improvements are also evident. Unit labour costs have improved relative to the euro area average by 6¾% in 2009 alone. Similarly, Irish price levels have improved considerably relative to our European neighbours, which are enhancing Ireland's export performance. Reflecting this, Irish exports are expected to grow by 6¾% this year and remain robust next year. Restoring the public finances to a sustainable footing is the third pillar underpinning the Government's economic strategy. To this end, five separate adjustment packages, incorporating both revenue-raising and spending cuts, amounting to close to €15 billion on a full-year basis have already been implemented.

The benefit of the adjustment measures is already evident. The public finances have stabilised with an underlying deficit of just under 12% of GDP now expected this year, in line with the underlying deficit in 2009. The Government's stated aim is to reduce the deficit ratio to 3% of GDP by 2014 and the four-year Budgetary Plan that we will publish later this month will provide further details on this. It is encouraging that the main Opposition parties share Government's commitment to reduce the deficit ratio to 3% of GDP by 2014 and some to the need for significant frontloading in the context of Budget 2011.

While progress has been made, more work remains to be done. The Government announced last month that further adjustments of €15 billion would be required over the four year period 2011-2014 to achieve a deficit of 3% of GDP by 2014 and last week announced that there would be a significant frontloading of that adjustment with €6 billion worth of measures pencilled in for 2011. This further illustrates this Government's determination to put the public finances in order and means that over two-third of the required adjustments will have been implemented by the end of 2011.

The Department of Finance's forecasting methodology includes assessing the impact of potential fiscal adjustments on the wider economy. For example, in the ‘Information Note on the Economic and Budgetary Outlook 2011-2014' a budgetary adjustment of €6bn is estimated to reduce the rate of growth by somewhere in the region of 1½-2 percentage points. Given that there is a borrowing gap of over €19bn in the public finances and that the debt servicing as a percentage of tax revenue has increased from 3.4% in 2007 to 13% this year, suggestions of injecting a stimulus into the economy is not appropriate. Furthermore, as is widely accepted, given the openness of the Irish economy, a substantial amount of any stimulus would be lost through higher levels of imports.

Implementing a budgetary adjustment programme that narrows the gap between expenditure and revenue to a deficit of 3% of GDP by 2014 is the agreed Government strategy most suitable to our current economic situation. This view is shared by the main Opposition parties and is endorsed by the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

67 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the loss he expects the National Pensions Reserve Fund to sustain as a result of the State’s underwriting of the €5.4 billion Allied Irish Banks plans to raise through the sale of new shares; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41619/10]

Joan Burton

Ceist:

74 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it is customary when a company engages in a rights issue that the price of the shares issued thereunder be set at a significant discount to the prevailing market price to attract investors; the reason he intends to press ahead with the €5.4 billion AIB rights issue at a price of 50 cent, when the market price was varied between 20 to 40% below this level; the level of private sector take up of these rights he would expect if the price remains significantly below the price of the rights issue; his views on whether, in the event that the National Pension Reserve Fund were to take up the entire rights issue, this would entail both a significant and immediate loss to the NPRF and a corresponding gain to existing shareholders whose shares would not then be diluted to the extent that would have been the case had the price of the rights issue been set at or below market price; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41645/10]

Pat Breen

Ceist:

77 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Government intends purchasing Allied Irish Banks shares at 50 cents when they are available on the market at less than 35 cents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41616/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 67, 74 and 77 together.

The Financial Regulator determined on 30 September 2010 that AIB must raise a revised €10.4bn by the end of 2010 in order to meet its capital requirements. To date AIB has announced the sale of its Polish subsidiary BZWBK, which is expected to generate capital of €2.5bn and the sale of its holding in US bank M&T which has generated €0.9bn in capital. There will be further asset disposals but the remaining capital requirement of the bank will be met largely through a placing and open offer of shares to existing shareholders. The placing and open offer will be fully underwritten by the NPRFC at a fixed price of €0.50 per share.

The underwriting price of €0.50 per share represents a 9.4% discount to the closing price of AIB's stock on 29 September 2010, which was the day before my statement announcing the placing and open offer. The discount to be applied to the prevailing market price is in line with relevant precedent Government underwritten transactions in other jurisdictions. I am advised by the NTMA that it is the normal practice in underwritten transactions that the underwriting price is fixed at announcement. It is not unusual for the share price to fluctuate following the announcement of an underwriting transaction. The real value of the States investment is not as reflected in the current share price, which is continuing to fluctuate, but in the market value of the bank post once it has recovered.

The structuring of this transaction balances two very important objectives. The first is to ensure appropriate burden sharing through shareholder dilution. The second is to ensure a viable exit mechanism through which the State can recover its investment. It is preferable for the State's medium to long-term investment strategy in the bank that a full and viable listing is maintained. As a result the transaction has been structured to impose significant dilution on existing shareholders, while retaining sufficient public ownership to maintain the bank's stock exchange listing. I am informed by the NTMA that any further dilution of shareholders rights would have undermined the maintenance of a listing.

The size of the State's capital investment remains constant at €5.4bn regardless of the underwriting price used in the transaction. If the underwriting price had been set lower than €0.50 then a greater number of shares would have to be issued to meet the €5.4bn investment and the bank's stock exchange listing would be challenged. This listing provides a route for the NPRF through which the value of its investment in AIB may be realised over time as the economy and banking sector environment improves.

It is not possible to quantify the level of shares likely to be taken up by the private sector in the placing and open offer. However, it is highly likely that the State will acquire a significant majority shareholding in AIB upon completion of the transaction. The value of the State's ordinary share investment in AIB following completion of the transaction will be subject to variations in the underlying share price of AIB on a daily basis and cannot be quantified at this stage.

Departmental Expenditure

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

68 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance the estimate the 2010 year end capital and current balances for voted Departmental spending; his plans to roll these funds over at the discretion of the line Departments, or will these balances be returned to the general fund at end 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41635/10]

Departmental balances are those amounts issued from the Exchequer Account of the Central Fund to the Supply Account of the Pay Master General for Departmental spending from one year which remain undrawn from the Supply Account at year-end and are carried forward to be used the next year. These amounts are not in addition to agreed allocations as set in the Expenditure Estimates, but are deducted from the Central Fund issues in respect of Departmental expenditure issues for January. As outlined in the Pre Four-Year Plan Information Note on the Economic and Budgetary Outlook 2011-2014, published 4 November, total net voted expenditure in 2010 is anticipated to be some €½ billion above the level originally estimated for the year. This includes the significant one-off costs associated with the recently announced exit mechanisms from the HSE, along with shortfalls in Departmental receipts, most notably PRSI and health levy receipts, offset to some extent by savings on capital expenditure.

The question of whether and to what extent the Departmental savings on Capital expenditure can be carried over into 2011, using the Capital carryover facilities of the 2004 Finance Act, will be addressed in the context of the 2011 Budget.

Public Sector Staff

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

69 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance in respect of the Health Service Executive voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes, the detail of the way this is proposed to be funded; if the up-front cost will impact only on the 2010 general Government balance; the savings that can be expected as a result of these schemes in 2011 and in each year to 2015; the way these savings will impact on the GGB; if the up-front cost will be treated as an exceptional item of expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41628/10]

The actual cost and savings under the Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) and Voluntary Redundancy Schemes (VRS) for the health sector will depend on the overall take up of the schemes and the mix of take-up between the VER and VRS options. A maximum amount of €400m will be made available in 2010 to fund the upfront costs of the schemes. It will be included as an additional expenditure item in 2010. To the extent that it increases borrowing — it will be funded from borrowing for the current year and the upfront costs will only impact on the 2010 General Government balance. The projected savings, based on full take up to the €400m cap, are estimated to be some €200m per year. Based on the €400 million costing, this would increase the General Government Deficit (GGD) by 0.25% in 2010. In future years, the cost saving will similarly reduce the GGD by around 0.1% each year.

Fiscal Policy

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

70 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the fact that savings amounting to €15 billion will be needed which is twice the sum that was under discussion at the time Ireland and the Commission agreed to bring our deficit below 3% of GDP by 2014, he will seek to renegotiate with the European Commission to extend the 2014 deadline; if the European Commission have expressed an opinion on the feasibility of extracting these savings in such a short timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41573/10]

Over the course of the last two years, the Irish Government has taken a number of significant steps to begin the process of restoring stability and sustainability to the public finances. These adjustments were necessary because of the large gap that has emerged between revenues and expenditure. Despite the extent of the adjustments implemented so far, further measures are necessary to ensure we meet the 3% of GDP deficit reduction target by 2014. The Government remains fully committed to meeting this target and has not sought to renegotiate the deadline with the EU Commission. The Commission has indicated that it is supportive of the Government's intentions in this regard. Commissioner Rehn stated just last week that he welcomed the continued commitment of the Government to reducing the deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2014. The Government has announced that meeting the deficit target will involve an overall adjustment of €15 billion over the period 2011-2014. The Four-Year Budgetary Plan, due for publication in the coming weeks, will set out the expenditure and revenue measures required to meet this target. In this regard, a consolidation package of €6 billion for 2011 has been decided upon by Government. Commissioner Rehn has also indicated that he views this as an appropriate adjustment as it strikes the correct balance between allowing the economic recovery to strengthen and addressing the budgetary challenges in a timely and frontloaded fashion. Details on the composition of the adjustment for 2011 and the extent and composition of the measures over the remaining years of the forecast period will be announced in the Four-Year Budgetary Plan. The Four-Year Budgetary Plan will also highlight structural reform measures that will underpin future economic growth.

Tax Code

Joe Costello

Ceist:

71 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance his plans for lifting the burden of carbon tax on road hauliers; if he will consider a scrappage scheme to assist road hauliers in replacing older vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35058/10]

I have no plans to exempt any sector from the carbon tax. The only reliefs from the carbon tax are for those companies that participate in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). Unlike the scrappage scheme that currently exists for passenger cars (category A) whereby VRT relief of up to €1,500 is available where a new car of CO2 emission Bands A or B is purchased (these have a VRT liability of 14% and 16% of the price of the cars, respectively), commercial vehicles attract a standard VRT liability of €50 (Category C). Accordingly, a scrappage scheme would be of little benefit.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

72 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance his views on proposals to impose a tax or levy on text messages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37831/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, it is not customary for the Minister for Finance to comment on possible tax and expenditure changes in advance of the Budget.

Departmental Properties

David Stanton

Ceist:

73 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 84 of 7 October 2010, the further progress that has been made by the Office of Public Works in relation to the future of the former site at Haulbowline (details supplied) in County Cork; if the group has concluded its deliberations; if a report on same has been received by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41621/10]

The Working Group established by the Government in order to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the former Irish ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork, is close to concluding its deliberations.

The Working Group expects to report to Government by the end of the year.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 67.

Credit Availability

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

75 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Finance his view on the current lending environment for small and medium enterprise and for persons seeking mortgages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41626/10]

With regard to the provision of business credit, both AIB and Bank of Ireland have committed to providing not less than €3 billion each for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs in both 2010 and 2011. These plans were reviewed by John Trethowan and the Department and were found to be credible. Both Mr. Trethowan and the Department receive monthly progress reports from the two banks which allow us to ensure they deliver on the strong commitments given in their plans to support viable businesses in all sectors of the economy and in every area of the country. Both banks insist that there are no constraints on lending bar demand from viable businesses. To back this up, Mr. Trethowan has reported to the Department that both AIB and Bank of Ireland remain open for business and borrowers should use the Credit Review Office if they find this is not so.

I also note that at least one foreign owned bank has reaffirmed its commitment to the Irish SME market which should assist the situation.

As part of the terms of the recapitalisation of AIB and Bank of Ireland, the banks committed to actively promote mortgage lending at competitive rates, with increased transparency on the criteria to be met. In particular AIB and Bank of Ireland committed to providing an additional 30% capacity for mortgage lending to First Time Buyers. IBF statistics for all mainstream mortgage lenders show that overall mortgage lending to FTB fell by 25% in the full year to June 2010 vis-à-vis the previous comparable period. In this market of retrenchment, AIB and Bank of Ireland continue to lend substantial monies and grow market share.

National Asset Management Agency

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

76 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance his views on the €64 million loss incurred by the National Asset Management Agency in the three months to end June 2010 on the mark-to-market negative movement on hedging derivatives and foreign exchange movements; the nature of these derivative operations; the total nominal exposure of NAMA to derivative products; if he will provide a breakdown of this exposure by product type; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41632/10]

NAMA advise that in terms of the €64m valuation movement reported in the second quarterly report of NAMA, it is most important to note that this is a mark-to-market movement on the derivative valuations in accordance with international accounting standards and these figures will, over time, increase and decrease in line with market movements in interest rates. As such, this is not a permanent loss or, indeed, a cash loss for the period. I am informed by NAMA that it must transact derivatives to manage both the exposures arising from the transfer of debtor derivatives from participating institutions and to manage the interest rate and foreign exchange risk in the NAMA Balance Sheet.

In terms of debtor derivatives transferring to NAMA, the total nominal value expected to transfer is just over €14bn, with €6.4bn having transferred by June 30th 2010. NAMA only pays for performing derivatives (€184m to June 30th 2010); non-performing derivatives are acquired at no consideration. Apart from one inflation-indexed swap, the remaining products are interest rate derivatives: 95% are plain vanilla interest rate swaps and 5% are interest rate options. Over €7bn of the transferred debtor derivatives are due to mature by the end of December 2011.

Apart from transactions executed in order to manage the interest rate risk arising on these debtor derivatives, NAMA additionally entered into a number of interest rate swaps to hedge (fix) the variable interest rate it pays on a portion of the NAMA bonds issued to participating institutions as payment for the loan assets acquired. These swaps are used to protect NAMA from rising interest rates. With regard to foreign currency, NAMA hedges the consideration paid for foreign currency assets; the currency risk arises from the fact that NAMA only issues euro-denominated bonds for such assets.

I am advised by NAMA that in view of its commercial remit, it would not be appropriate to disclose full details to the market regarding each derivative position at this point. However, the Deputy should note that comprehensive information about NAMA's hedging activities will be published in the Agency's annual accounts due for release in 2011.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 67.

Fiscal Policy

Joe Carey

Ceist:

78 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the reason income tax receipts were below profile in the Exchequer returns published on 2 November 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41611/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

91 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the continued weakness in income tax receipts; the extent to which he attributes this ongoing weakness to emigration, job losses, declining hourly pay, declining hours worked, declining labour market participation or other factors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41623/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 91 together.

Income tax receipts amounted to €8.6 billion for the first ten months of the year. This represented a decline of €579 million or 6.3% on the level collected in the same period of 2009. Budget 2010 forecast that income tax receipts would decline by 2.6% in 2010. At end-October, income tax receipts were €369 million or 4.1% below target. The underperformance in income tax receipts reflects a number of factors, including weakness in the labour market, where there have been declines in pay levels, hours worked and numbers employed. Consequently, PAYE receipts are approximately €200 million below target. The bulk of the remainder of the shortfall against target is driven by DIRT receipts which were below profile for the month of October by an amount in excess of €150 million. An initial assessment of this data, suggests that this reflects the decline in deposit interest rates and the high level of debt repayment contained within the savings ratio.

Economic Competitiveness

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which his Department continues to monitor the competitiveness of the economy; the way this now compares with other EU member states those within the eurozone and without; the number of corrective measures if any proposed or intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41654/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

155 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the degree to which this economy is competitive in comparison to the most competitive within the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42036/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 155 together.

My officials continuously monitor and analyse how cost developments are impacting on our economic performance and I am briefed accordingly.

The standardised methodology for monitoring relative competitiveness across the euro area is the Harmonised Competitiveness Indicator. While it cannot be denied that Ireland had its competitive edge eroded relative to our European peers, as a country we are regaining this competitiveness. Since mid-2008, the Harmonised Competitiveness Indicator (HCI) for Ireland, as measured by the Central Bank of Ireland, has been falling more or less constantly, indicating an improvement in our international competitiveness. This improvement comes despite the renewed appreciation of the euro against the dollar and sterling in the wake on quantitative easing measures in both the US and UK.

Ireland, as a member of a currency union, must focus on improving competitiveness at home. In this regard, we are seeing the benefits of our labour market flexibility: much available evidence points to recent downward pressure on wages in the economy, eg. average weekly earnings in the first of half of 2010 fell by 1.6%. Furthermore, unit labour costs — wages adjusted for productivity — are forecast by the European Commission to fall in Ireland next year. In addition, Ireland has had the biggest decline in consumer prices of the euro area which has had a considerable positive impact on our competitiveness.

While the falls in domestic prices, easing wage pressures and improvements in productivity are helpful, we must not be complacent as further improvements in our competitiveness are essential to take advantage of the global recover. To this end, the Four-Year Plan will outline a programme of structural reforms which will help to further restore competitiveness and support economic growth. The Plan will be published later this month.

Government Deficit

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

80 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the Economic and Social Research Institute quarterly economic commentary for the third quarter of 2010 that had grave doubts about the ability of Government to bring our deficit below 3% of GDP by 2014 without damaging the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41572/10]

With regards to the 3% target by 2014 — this benchmark was agreed by all EU Member States and the EU Commission. Ireland is not alone in the need to reduce its deficit — some 24 of 27 Member States are in excessive deficit. Some of these countries have committed to reducing their deficit to 3% by 2012 or 2013. There is clearly a wide gap between what we are spending and our income, such a gap is not sustainable. What we spend on our public services must be funded by an efficient tax system. In the medium term we cannot borrow to fund day to day services. For every €1 billion of this gap we put off addressing, we have to borrow that €1 billion every year and pay interest on this borrowing.

The Deputy will be aware that last week the Government announced that a consolidation package of €15 billion will be required over the course of the next four years if we are to deliver on our deficit reduction target. A significant frontloading of the consolidation of €6bn in 2011 is deemed necessary and will underline the strength of our resolve in showing that the Government is serious about tackling the public finance difficulties. My Department now expects annual average real GDP growth to be 2¾% over the 2011 to 2014 period. These growth forecasts incorporate the impact of the post-Budget consolidation measures outlined in the Information Note on the Budgetary and Economic Outlook which was published on Thursday 4 November.

Further details on the nature of the adjustment for 2011 and the distribution and composition of the measures over the remaining years of the forecast period will be announced in the Four-Year Plan. In addition the Plan will outline a programme of structural reform, which will help to further restore competitiveness and support economic growth. The Plan will be published later this month.

Financial Services Sector

Michael Noonan

Ceist:

81 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a report conducted by Ernst and Young into policies and practices at Irish Nationwide Building Society; if he will publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41607/10]

The Board of Irish Nationwide Building Society has commenced a process to investigate certain "legacy" issues in the Society. As a first step in this, the Board engaged a firm of investigating accountants to delineate appropriate areas for inquiry. An initial report was presented to the Board of the Society in June 2010, copies of which were presented to the Central Bank, the NTMA, to whom I have delegated certain of my banking functions, and to my Department. I presume this is the report to which the Deputy is referring. Arising from this, the Board of the Society has agreed arrangements for the further investigation of appropriate matters. The Central Bank and the NTMA are being kept informed of progress. In view of the legal status and contents of the document, and the fact that matters continue to be examined, I am not at liberty to publish it.

European Financial Stability Facility

Mary Upton

Ceist:

82 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance his views on proposals to set up a permanent successor fund to the European Financial Stability Facility; if he expects that conditionalities attached to any such fund would necessitate amendments to the Lisbon treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41650/10]

The Report of the Van Rompuy Task Force, on which I represented Ireland, was endorsed by the European Council meeting of 28-29 October 2010. The Report concluded that in the light of the Greek crisis that a more robust framework is needed for crisis management, notwithstanding the establishment of the European Financial Stability Facility which was put in place earlier this year and covers the period to mid-2013. The Task Force outlined various aspects of a permanent crisis resolution framework and concluded that further work is needed on its setting up including consideration of possible Treaty change. I support this work in the context of safeguarding the financial stability of the euro area as a whole. The European Council has asked President Van Rompuy to undertake consultations with Member States on the question of limited treaty change and to report back in December. The European Commission in consultation with President Van Rompuy will undertake preparatory work on the general features of a new mechanism. The Council propose to consider the matter further at its December meeting with a view to a limited treaty amendment so that any change can be ratified by mid-2013 at the latest.

There is an opportunity now on foot of the initial consideration by the Task Force to reflect on appropriate arrangements for the future, building on the experience gained with the European Financial Stability Facility, and to take a more considered approach to what is required of a permanent mechanism.

When President Van Rompuy has completed his consultations, he will bring forward a detailed proposal setting out what is required. Until this proposal is finalised, it is not possible to conclude whether it will necessitate amendments to the EU Treaties and if so what will be needed to enable Ireland to ratify the new arrangements. However, I can assure the House that whatever legal steps are necessary and appropriate will be followed. I would emphasise though that what is being proposed at present is a very targeted and limited exercise. It is worth recalling here that the Treaties contain various approaches to Treaty change, including the ‘Simplified Revision Procedures'. This approach provides for situations where it is agreed that some change is needed within particular policy areas of the Treaties but where the competences conferred on the Union by the Member States are not being increased.

No decision was taken at the recent European Council on which approach should apply in this case. However, the Council conclusions emphasised the limited nature of what is being proposed.

Debt Interest Payments

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

83 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out a schedule of interest payments, both imputed and actual, for the promissory notes issued to Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide and EBS and for the debt raised on the bond market to pay down this debt; the estimated cumulative Exchequer borrowing requirement and general government balance impact of these payments over the 2010 to 2025 period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41641/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table as published on the Department of Finance website on 4th November last:

Impact of Promissory Notes and Special Investment Shares on Public Finances

Promissory Note Payments (cash borrowings)

Incremental Annual Debt Interest Costs on Payments **(cash borrowings)

Cumulative Debt Interest Costs on Payments (cash borrowings)

Promissory Note Interest Charge

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

2010

0.2*

0.6

2011

3.1

0.20

0.0

2012

3.1

0.15

0.35

0.0

2013

3.1

0.15

0.50

1.8

2014

3.1

0.15

0.65

1.6

2015

3.1

0.15

0.80

1.5

2016

3.1

0.15

0.95

1.4

2017

3.1

0.15

1.10

1.3

2018

3.1

0.15

1.25

1.2

2019

3.1

0.15

1.40

1.0

2020

3.1

0.15

1.55

0.9

2021

3.1

0.15

1.70

0.7

2022

3.1

0.15

1.85

0.5

2023

3.1

0.15

2.0

0.3

2024

1.9

0.10

2.10

0.2

2025

0.9

0.05

2.15

0.1

*Special Investment Shares of 100m in INBS and EBS.

**The interest costs on cash borrowings of 3.1 billion in 2011 are currently estimated at approximately 200 million. This is based on a technical assumption of an interest rate of 6.5% in 2011. For the following years, a technical assumption of an interest rate of 4.7% has been assumed in the calculations. This is based on the weighted average cost of funds raised by the NTMA in the bond market in 2010 which is 4.7%, the same as the average funding cost achieved in 2009.

The figures in the table are current working estimates of the impact of the Promissory Notes and Special Investment Shares on the public finances out to the middle of the next decade. The figures are subject to change.

Flood Relief

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

84 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the reason Ireland did not join the European floods alert system until this year; the plans that are in place to avoid a recurrence of the devastation caused by last years floods now that Ireland is a member of EFAS and can expect a three day to ten day flood warning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37431/10]

Following the major floods in the Elbe and Danube in August 2002, the European Commission initiated the development of a European Flood Alert System (EFAS). The development of this system is ongoing. A prototype of such a European Flood Alert System is, at present, being developed and tested at the Weather Driven Natural Hazards Action in the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the EC Joint Research Centre. EFAS is being developed in close collaboration with nearly thirty meteorological Services and Water Authorities of other EU Member States.

The present prototype of EFAS produces early flood alerts on a European scale and is designed to provide a medium range flood watch and alert system for river catchments greater than 4,000 square kilometres in area, and as such this will not match the size of most Irish river catchment areas, other than the River Shannon.

The OPW has now decided to become a member of the EFAS experimental project for an initial five year period. This decision has been made because the stage of development of the system suggests that a refinement of the system to provide regional applicability to the Irish scale catchment areas may be possible over the next few years.

Under the terms to which OPW has signed up to membership of EFAS it is explicitly understood, by all members, that EFAS is in a development and testing stage and is therefore to be considered as an experimental product which is under ongoing validation. While it is in experimental stage, all EFAS results must be treated as a research output only.

It would be incorrect, to characterise the recent decision to become a member of EFAS in any way as addressing the needs for a flood alert system for Ireland. That requirement is at present being evaluated under the strategic review of flood warning and forecasting for Ireland which is due to be completed in 2011.

Fiscal Policy

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

85 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the reason receipts for corporation tax as published on 2 November 2010 were below the receipts for the equivalent period in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41612/10]

Corporation tax receipts in the first ten months of the year, at €2.6 billion, were €206 million or 7.3% below the level collected in the same period of 2009. The Budget 2010 forecast anticipated a decline of 19% in corporation tax receipts this year. This assessment was made having regard to a number of factors including a weak economic environment and 2009's receipts receiving a once-off benefit from a payment date change.

However, it is encouraging to note that corporation tax receipts have performed better than expected this year and at end-October, receipts were €473 million or 22% above the amount which had been targeted for collection. November is a key month for corporation tax collection, but given the performance of receipts to date, the overall forecast for corporation tax receipts for this year may be bettered.

Tax Code

Joe Costello

Ceist:

86 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the purpose of the €10 air travel tax; the amount of money collected since the tax was initiated; if he has considered a cost benefit analysis of the tax; his plans to discontinue the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35230/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the yield from the air travel tax for the nine months it was in place in 2009 was €84.4 million and that the yield to date in 2010 is €88.2 million — total yield €172.6 million.

The air travel tax was one of a number of Budgetary measures introduced that was necessary in the context of an overall response to the fiscal challenges we face and represents a genuine effort to broaden the tax base in a fair and equitable manner. The Deputy may wish to note that both Germany and Austria have announced plans to introduce an air travel tax with effect from 1 January 2011.

I have stated before that the impact of the tax on passenger numbers is being overstated. However, as a matter of policy, taxation measures are reviewed on a regular basis and particularly as part of the Budgetary process.

Public Service Staff

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

87 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the direction given by his Department to public sector workers who were left stranded abroad as a result of the volcanic ash disruption; the specific direction that was given to these workers in terms of making up their hours; if his Department accepted the exceptional circumstances that caused absences in work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41577/10]

In the matter raised by the Deputy my Department has direct responsibility in respect of the civil service only. Accordingly, the Department of Finance wrote to Personnel Officers of Government Departments and Offices on 27 April 2010 and 6 May 2010 with regard to civil servants who were stranded abroad as a result of the volcanic ash disruption. Civil Servants who were absent abroad on official business and who were prevented by the volcanic ash cloud from returning to Ireland were regarded as if they had been attending work for the period of their absence.

Civil servants who were stranded abroad but not on official business were facilitated with a number of options to assist them in addressing the period of their absences from duty during the volcanic ash activity. These options included the use of annual leave, special leave without pay, the flexi-leave system (if available).

Consumer Sentiment Index

Michael Creed

Ceist:

88 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the reason the KBC Ireland-ESRI consumer sentiment index slipped last month to 48.1 from 52.4 in September, bringing the index to its lowest level for 17 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41617/10]

The KBC Ireland/ ESRI consumer sentiment index for October was disappointing. This reflects uncertainty about the short term economic prospects among consumers which is also reflected in the present high savings ratio as they seek to reduce their personal debt levels and also hold off making purchases. There is, however, some good news on the economic front. Labour market conditions — that have a major impact on consumer sentiment — are showing signs of stabilising. The Live Register has fallen considerably in the last two months. In fact, the fall in numbers on the Live Register in October was the largest fall in 14 years. Other recent good news on the labour market was the announcement that September last saw the biggest number of new professional job vacancies since October 2008. The September figures were up 40 per cent on a year earlier. However, it still must be acknowledged that the unemployment rate is at historically high levels, but any reduction in unemployment is welcome at this time.

Providing certainty and clarity to the market and wider society through the publication of the four-year plan later this month is important. While it will seek sacrifices from all across society, the plan will offer a clear path towards economic sustainability. The certainty provided by setting out the policy measures that people can expect to see implemented in the next four years will enable consumers to make fully informed consumption decisions and thus contribute positively towards economic growth.

Financial Services Regulation

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

89 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance the efforts that have been undertaken to introduce a mechanism whereby credit unions with surplus, uninvested funds can channel these funds into secure, productive investments in the Irish small and medium enterprise and infrastructure lending sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41651/10]

The Government has brought in a series of measures to ensure that viable businesses, especially SMEs, get the credit they need. As part of the Government's strategy, announced last March, both AIB and Bank of Ireland have committed to lending €12 billion for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs over two years (from March 2010). This lending is being monitored on a monthly basis by sector and geography and reviewed by Mr. John Trethowan of the Credit Review Office.

In addition, the banks are working with Enterprise Ireland and the IBF to develop sectoral expertise in the modern growth sectors of the Irish economy and to develop the range of banking services that Irish SMEs trading internationally will need.

Furthermore, AIB and Bank of Ireland are also subject to the Credit Review Office. SME businesses that have had credit refused or withdrawn, can apply for an independent review of the bank's decision after the internal appeal.

The Deputy is aware credit unions are independent financial institutions with full responsibility and control over their own funds. It is open to credit unions to invest surplus funds as they see fit provided that such loans or investments are made in accordance with the provisions of the Credit Union Act 1997. As Minister for Finance I do not have a role in making recommendations to credit unions on where they might invest their funds.

Section 55 of the Credit Union Act 1997 sets out details of the functions of the board of directors of a credit union. This includes the making of decisions on applications for loans and decisions in respect of the investment of funds of the credit union. There are also obligations on boards on the general control, direction and management of the affairs, funds and records of their credit unions. In this context, the Registrar of Credit Unions requires credit unions to manage their business in a prudent manner and to comply with all regulatory requirements, guidance notes and circulars which he issues.

It goes without saying that a credit union must have the relevant skills and expertise to evaluate and manage commercial lending and the resulting exposure to the credit union. Skills, experience and expertise are a prerequisite before a credit union should consider any proposals to engage in SME lending. Where credit unions are approached about such lending, the Registrar would expect that in the first instance they would discuss this with his Office particularly as it is a specialist type of lending required by many SMEs.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

90 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the issuance period for liabilities covered under the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme beyond end 2010; if he has sought, or intends to seek, EU state aid approval for such an extension; the guarantee income he would expect to accrue to the Exchequer in 2011 if the guarantee were to be extended to the end of 2011 on existing terms and conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41638/10]

The Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme has been an important support to the Irish banking system, facilitating its access to both short and longer term funding to help maintain the overall stability of the banking sector. It complements the broad Government Strategy to restore fully the banking system and maximise its contribution to overall economic recovery. On the advice of the Governor of the Central Bank, I am extending the issuance period beyond the current end date of 31 December 2010, and on financial stability grounds will be placing an SI before the House shortly which will enable the issuance period to extend to 31 December 2011. As the Deputy may be aware, the European Commission today announced the approval of the Scheme under State aid rules to 30 June 2011 which is the maximum period permitted for state aid approval under the European Commission policy on guarantee schemes.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the ECB has been notified of the intention to provide for an extension to 31 December 2011, and, in its legal opinion of 2 November 2010, has endorsed the approach on financial stability grounds.

If the guarantee were to be extended to the end of 2011 on existing terms and conditions I would expect income in excess of €800 million to accrue to the Exchequer in 2011. However, the yield to the Exchequer depends on a range of factors such as the maturity profile of the liabilities and the extent to which institutions choose to make unguaranteed issuances, all of which are sensitive to prevailing market conditions.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 78.

Budget Statement

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

92 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if and when his Department will publish an impact assessment analysis of budget 2011; if his Department will poverty proof budget 2011 and the four-year budgetary plan that it will release; when the publication of an impact analysis is expected to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41575/10]

My Department will publish an assessment of 2011 income tax measures using poverty impact assessment criteria. Other Departments may publish further examinations at that time.

Banking Sector Regulation

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

93 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on the progress with the restructuring and consolidation of the Irish banking system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41633/10]

The State's primary consideration in its involvement in the banking system is to protect, in the public interest, the financial and economic system of the State. Therefore, all of the Government's actions in the banking area are designed to support the development of a reformed and reinvigorated banking system that can serve our economy in a proper manner and, within which, there is scope for all viable credit institutions operating in the Irish market to play their full part. As outlined in my Statement on Banking on 30 September last, financial institutions, with the help of the State, are now taking steps to meet their required capital needs and certain reorganisation developments within the sector are also proceeding. For example, the Government has decided to split Anglo Irish Bank into a Funding Bank and a separate Asset Recovery Bank which will work out and realise the maximum value from the bank's non-NAMA assets over time. This revised approach is currently under examination by the European Commission under State Aid rules. AIB is taking various steps, including asset sales and placing an open offer of new shares to raise additional capital, which will likely result in further investment by the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission. Also, two bids for the purchase of the EBS Building Society, one from an existing bank and the other from a consortium of international investors, are currently under active consideration. In addition, viability and restructuring plans in respect of Irish Life and Permanent and Irish Nationwide Building Society have been submitted to the European Commission and are now under consideration. The support of the State should allow an orderly transition of our banking system to meet the requirements of the country in the coming years.

Budget Statement

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

94 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out a template of the four year stability plan which is under preparation for the European Commission detailing exactly the information the Commission is looking for, the format of same and the amount of detail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41629/10]

The Government will publish a Four-Year Budgetary Plan in the coming weeks which will set out the expenditure and revenue measures required to meet the deficit target of 3% of GDP by end-2014. The Plan is not being prepared at the behest of the EU Commission, nor has the Commission dictated the contents, or indeed any aspect of the Plan's format. Publishing a four-year plan was a decision taken by Government to reaffirm our commitment to tackling the imbalances in the public finances and returning them to a more sustainable position over the medium term. Officials from my Department have met and shared information with Commission Officials as they have also done with the Opposition parties. I met with Commissioner Rehn on Monday last to update him on progress on the Four-Year Budgetary Plan. These meetings and discussions are a very useful and constructive part of the process of developing the Plan. Last week my Department published a technical Information Note detailing the emerging economic and budgetary position for 2010 and providing an assessment of the economic and budgetary outlook for 2011 and for the medium-term. The Note outlined that a consolidation package of €6 billion for 2011 has been decided upon by Government. Details on the composition of the adjustment for 2011 and the extent and composition of the measures over the remaining years of the forecast period will be announced in the Four-Year Budgetary Plan.

Importantly, the Four-Year Budgetary Plan also will highlight structural reform measures that will underpin future economic growth. Reforms to the budgetary framework will also be a part of the Plan. Following the publication of the Four-Year Budgetary Plan later this month, Budget 2011 will be published on 7th December.

Financial Services Regulation

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

95 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Finance when a decision will be made on the sale of EBS; the strategic considerations that will be taken into account in making the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41614/10]

To secure EBS's immediate capital position, the State on 27 May 2010 provided EBS with €100 million of capital through the issuance of Special Investment Shares in a manner consistent with the EU State aid rules. A Promissory Note to the amount of €250 million was issued to the society on 17 June 2010 to enable EBS to continue to meet its capital adequacy requirements. The State is exploring all of the options available and seeking to maximise the returns and benefits and to minimise the costs incurred by the taxpayer. Expressions of interest in the society were received from a number of parties and, as recently announced, two bids for EBS are now being considered; one from Irish Life & Permanent and the other from an international consortium led by Cardinal Capital Group. The process of final negotiations with these parties is continuing and it would not be proper for me to comment further on the detail at this stage.

Sovereign Borrowing Costs

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

96 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance his views on the recent escalation of Irish sovereign borrowing costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41634/10]

The extreme volatility on euro sovereign bond markets in recent days has seen yields on Irish Government bonds rise significantly, along with those of other so-called peripheral countries. While yields in the secondary market are currently at an elevated level, it must be borne in mind that no new Government debt is being issued at these rates. The purpose of the end-September Banking Statements and the soon to be published Four-Year Budgetary Plan is to encourage market confidence by bringing greater clarity as regards the recapitalisation needs of the banks and the restoration of a sustainable budgetary position. The National Treasury Management Agency raised €1.5 billion in its most recent bond auction on the 21 September. This means the target of raising €20 billion from the bond markets in 2010 has been achieved. Allowing for cash balances, retail debt and long-term funding carried over from last year, the Exchequer is fully funded well into the first half of 2011. In light of this and in order to give the markets time to digest the end-September Statements on banking and the Four-Year Budgetary Plan, the NTMA decided not to proceed with the planned bond auctions for October and November 2010 and will return to the bond markets in the usual way in early 2011.

Exchequer Savings

Michael Creed

Ceist:

97 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the reason expenditure on capital projects was €1 billion below profile on 2 November 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41613/10]

The actual roll-out of capital expenditure is a matter for other Departments, operating within a delegated sanction that covers not only capital investment this year but contractual commitments for the next three years. While the level of shortfall is high to date this year, it is not unprecedented and there will be some catch-up before year-end. I understand from the reports from other Departments that there are number of particular factors which have contributed to the shortfall this year. Tender prices have seen sharp reductions — this is good news given our fiscal position as it means we can deliver more with less. A reduction in land prices is also a factor.

Given the extent of the overall shortfall in capital spending this year, I do anticipate that there will be a saving this year but the precise figure will not be known until December.

Company Administration

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

98 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the progress of the restructuring of Quinn Group; the level of losses incurred by Anglo Irish Bank to date on loans to Quinn Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41640/10]

On 3 June the High Court granted the Joint Administrators permission to appoint advisors on any prospective sale of Quinn Insurance Ltd (QIL). The advisors, on behalf of the Joint Administrators, issued an information memorandum on 27 August on the sale of the company to interested parties which set out a two stage process for selecting a purchaser. The first stage required the submission of a non-binding indicative proposal by Friday 17 September. I understand that following evaluation by the advisors and the Joint Administrators of the above mentioned proposals, a limited number of prospective purchasers have been shortlisted by the Administrator to participate in Phase II of the sale process. They are conducting further due diligence including the consideration of the necessary commercial information underlying the company to enable them make a final bid. I understand that the Administrator wants to conclude a sale transaction by the end of the year.

On the question of the level of losses incurred by Anglo Irish Bank to date on loans to the Quinn Group, I should state at the outset that the relationship between Anglo and the Quinn Group is a commercial one. Under the Relationship Framework put in place under the Anglo Irish Corporation, Act 2009, which governs the relationship between the bank and its shareholder the State, issues relating to the commercial activities at the bank are a matter for the board in respect of which as Minister for Finance I have no role in day to day management decisions.

It has been well publicised that the bank has a large exposure to the Quinn Group. Consequently the losses the bank might make depend to a large degree on future developments in the company and commercial decisions it makes in managing its commercial relationship with the company and any restructuring of the lending that may take place.

In addition, the taking of impairments on loans by Anglo and the timing of these decisions is a commercial matter for the bank. As you will appreciate, in my role as Minister for Finance and consistent with the terms of the Relationship Framework, I have no input into such decisions which are a matter for the management and board of Anglo on the basis of advice of their auditors in line with international accounting standards.

In summary, therefore there are a number of commercial options open to Anglo management which could result in a variety of outcomes, making any accurate estimate of ultimate loan losses very difficult at this stage and subject to very significant uncertainties. However, I would expect Anglo to keep me informed of any significant developments which would affect their capital position including any impact, should it materialise, from its exposure to the Quinn Group.

Departmental Properties

David Stanton

Ceist:

99 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance the number of properties under control of the Office of Public Works currently in use by the Department of Defence or Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41620/10]

The Commissioners of Public Works currently have under their control seven properties used by the Department of Defence or Defence Forces.

Four of the properties are State-owned:

Department of Defence HQ, Station Road, Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Department of Defence Finance Branch, Renmore, Galway,

Department of Defence, Colaiste Caoimhin, St. Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 11 and

Department of Defence, Infirmary Road, Dublin 7.

Three of the properties are leased:

Park House, North Circular Road, Dublin 7,

Roscrea Civil Defence School, Enterprise House, Benamore Business Park, Dublin Road, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary and

The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, 13-15 Hatch Street, Dublin 2.

Tax Collection

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

100 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance in view of the expiry of the relevant 31 October deadline for self-declaration, if he will provide an update on the implementation of further measures announced in budget 2010 with respect to the treatment of non-residents for tax purposes; the revenue that has been raised from these measures to date; the amount of revenue he expects these measures to yield in 2011; the number of non-residents for tax purposes these measures have affected; according to the most recent figures at his disposal, how many such non-residents are there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41647/10]

I am assuming that the reference by the Deputy to "further measures announced in Budget 2010 with respect to the treatment of non-residents for tax purposes" is a reference to the Domicile Levy introduced by section 150 of the Finance Act 2010. The Domicile Levy is charged on an individual:

who in any year is Irish domiciled and an Irish citizen,

whose worldwide income in the year exceeds €1m,

whose Irish located property in the year is greater than €5m, and

whose liability to Irish income tax for the year is less than €200,000.

The Levy will be charged for 2010 and subsequent years, but the payment for each year can be made at any time up to 31 October in the year following the valuation date, which is 31 December of each year. The first valuation date will be 31 December 2010 and the tax return and payment of the Levy for 2010 will not be due until 31 October 2011. No revenue will therefore be raised from the Domicile Levy in 2010.

As yet, no one has "self-declared" for the Domicile Levy for the tax year 2010. This is because it is not possible to establish whether the levy applies to an individual for a particular tax year until after the end of that year.

At this stage it is not possible to estimate the amount of revenue that may be raised from the Domicile Levy in 2011. Because of the absence of reliable data, neither is it possible at this stage to estimate the number of non-residents that are likely to be chargeable to the Domicile Levy.

Banking Sector

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

101 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance his views on the liquidity position of the Irish banking system; if this liquidity has come under significant threat in recent weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41652/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that as Minister for Finance it is not appropriate for me to discuss the liquidity positions of Irish banks. The Deputy will be aware that procedures have been in place since the establishment of the eurozone to deal with any problems which may occur, from time to time, for any member country. This is a normal feature of Central Banking for any currency.

Credit Availability

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

102 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if he has audited the delivery of lending commitments by banks made as part of the €7 billion recapitalisation agreement in 2009; the progress that has been made to date by Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland in delivering €3 billion in credit each to small and medium enterprises; when will he be able to audit the lending plans of the two institutions for this year; if he is satisfied that banks are meeting the needs of Irish business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41574/10]

In the subscription agreement, AIB and Bank of Ireland were tasked with making available 10% additional capacity for SME lending in 2009. While the figures are not audited as such, both banks report to the Financial Regulator and to my Department on a quarterly basis on progress on SME lending. The banks stated that there were no constraints on lending to viable businesses. However, the 10% target did not result in the expected level of additional lending. The following table outlines the lending of AIB and Bank of Ireland to SMEs in 2009.

€m’s

Sanctioned

Drawndown

AIB

2,507

1,620

BOI

3,158

2,533

As part of the transfer of loans to NAMA, both banks undertook to make available not less than €3 billion each in both 2010 and 2011 for lending to SMEs. They were required to produce lending plans on how they would achieve this. Summary versions of these plans were published with the first quarterly report from Mr John Trethowan, the credit reviewer. These plans were reviewed by John Trethowan and the Department and were found to be credible.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department and Mr. Trethowan of the Credit Review Office receive monthly progress reports from the two banks which allow us to monitor their lending to viable businesses in all sectors of the economy and in every area of the country. This information is commercially sensitive. The banks have 12 months to reach their targets and the overall results of their activities will be published in due course.

In addition to the monitoring, the Credit Review Office reviews decisions of banks to refuse credit on application from the customer to ensure that the banks are not refusing to lend to viable businesses.

Both banks insist that there are no constraints on lending bar demand from viable businesses. To back this up, Mr. Trethowan has reported to the Department that both AIB and Bank of Ireland remain open for business and borrowers should use the Credit Review Office if they find this is not so.

Legislative Programme

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

103 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the number of legislative measures already taken to safeguard the economy, the taxpayer and the country’s international creditability in the wake of the banking and economic downturn; the number of further legislative proposals currently contemplated in this regard; when such proposals are likely to be passed into law having particular regard to the need to restore full confidence in the banking and leading institutions and as a consequence provide the basis for economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41653/10]

As far as my Department is concerned, a number of measures have been taken over recent years to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to address the economic and budgetary challenges which we are facing, including the challenges arising in respect of the financial services sector. These include:

Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008;

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009;

Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2009;

Financial Services (Deposit Guarantee Scheme) Act 2009;

Investment of the National Pension Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009;

National Asset Management Agency Act 2009;

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act;

Central Bank Reform Act 2010;

European Financial Stability Facility Act 2010.

If further measures are needed these will be put before the Houses in due course.

Banking Sector Regulation

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

104 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the progress that has been made with preparations for the introduction of a special resolution regime for Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41630/10]

I have indicated previously that I am examining options for the introduction of a legislative regime to deal in a systematic way with distressed financial institutions. This is to ensure the State has in place a range of tools to address problem institutions effectively in the interests of maintaining financial stability, minimising reliance on public moneys and ensuring continuity of key banking activities. My Department is working with the Central Bank of Ireland to examine the policy issues arising in this area with a view to the development of draft legislative proposals. There are some significant legal and constitutional issues that need detailed assessment in advance of the finalisation of legislative proposals for consideration by the Government. This work is in addition to work underway by my Department and the Office of the Attorney General on resolution and reorganisation legislation, which will enable the implementation of reorganisation measures specific to Anglo Irish Bank and INBS to address the issue of burden-sharing by subordinated bondholders. The Deputy may wish to note that the development of a special resolution regime is a complex area where policy is still evolving internationally and it is important to ensure that any model introduced in an Irish context meets best international practice. In that regard I welcome the European Commission's recent Communication on an EU framework for crisis management and look forward to its legislative proposal in spring 2011. The discussion on this issue at EU level will of course inform our domestic consideration of this matter.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

105 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if it is his intention to further extend the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme beyond December 2010; when will he be reviewing this guarantee to make this decision; if this consideration is being factored into the four year budgetary plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41576/10]

The Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme has been an important support to the Irish banking system, facilitating its access to both short and longer term funding to help maintain the overall stability of the banking sector. It complements the broad Government Strategy to restore fully the banking system and maximise its contribution to overall economic recovery. On the advice of the Governor of the Central Bank, I am extending the issuance period beyond the current end date of 31 December 2010, and on financial stability grounds will be placing an SI before the House shortly which will enable the issuance period to run to 31 December 2011. As the Deputy may be aware, the European Commission today announced the approval of the Scheme under State aid rules.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the ECB has been notified of the intention to provide for an extension to 31 December 2011, and, in its legal opinion of 2 November 2010, has endorsed the approach on financial stability grounds.

In formulating the four year plan my Department has indeed reflected the additional fees that are expected to accrue from an extension of the guarantee scheme.

Credit Availability

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

106 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the number of refusals of credit that have been overturned by the Credit Review Office or as part of its internal review process within the two main banks; if any of the banks declined to follow the recommendations of the Credit Review Office; if the banks have refused to follow the recommendations of the Credit Review Office; the number of times this has happened. [41571/10]

The Credit Review Office has completed reviews of a total of seventeen cases, it upheld the banks' decisions in eleven cases, in two cases it considered that more work was required by the bank and the borrower and it disputed decisions of the banks to refuse credit in four cases. In all these cases, the banks have cooperated when the Credit Review Office has asked the banks to reconsider their lending decline decisions. John Trethowan also worked with the two banks to ensure that their internal appeals systems for borrowers were placed on a more formal footing. A total of 114 applications for internal review were received in the banks, of which 86 refusals were upheld, the initial decline decision was overturned or sanctioned with conditions in twenty cases and eight cases are in progress at the end of October.

Tax Yield

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

107 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance if an estimation has been provided for the loss of revenue to the State due to cross-Border shopping in 2009 and to date in 2010; his views that retail businesses along the Border have suffered severely as a result and his further views that such businesses should be treated in a sympathetic way by Revenue and other State organisations to give them some time to recover from the loss of business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41570/10]

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) published on 4 December 2009 the results of a survey of cross-border shopping as part of their Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) Q2 2009. The results showed that 16% of households in the Republic made a shopping trip to Northern Ireland in the twelve months to Q2 2009, with 41% in the border area and 21% in Dublin so doing. The report estimated that the total expenditure between Q2 2008 and Q2 2009 on cross-border shopping trips at €435 million. This is generally in line with the estimations published in March 2009 in the Report on the Implications of Cross Border Shopping, which was undertaken on my behalf by the Revenue Commissioners and the CSO. The QNHS also showed that the majority of trips involved purchases of groceries (80 per cent), with alcohol (44 per cent) and clothing and durables (42 per cent) being popular as well. Based on the data contained in this QNHS survey, Revenue estimated that the VAT and Excise loss in 2008 due to cross-border shopping, taking into account seasonal adjustments for the Christmas period, would be in the region of €90 million.

The March 2009 Report on the Implications of Cross Border Shopping noted that the main causes of price differentials between goods in Northern Ireland and the Republic were operating costs, profit margin (mark-up), taxes and a significant depreciation of Sterling against the Euro. While changes then made in the standard VAT rates widened some price differentials, their impact however remained small compared to the size of the change in the exchange rate.

The 2010 CSO Quarterly National Household Survey module on cross border shopping was conducted and completed in Q2. The results of this survey are expected to be published by the CSO this Friday, 12 November 2010. On receipt of the results, Revenue will estimate the tax losses for 2009 and into 2010 arising from cross-border shopping.

However, with the increase in the UK standard VAT rate from 15% to 17.5% in January 2010 and to 20% from 4 January next, there will be little difference between the standard VAT rate in Ireland and the UK. In this case the differential between the standard VAT rates in both jurisdictions will have reduced from 6.5 percentage points to 1 percentage point. This combined with the reduction by around 20% on alcohol excise duty rates since December 2009, should provide less incentive for people to shop outside the State.

On the question as to whether Revenue should treat retail businesses in the border area sympathetically, Revenue expects that businesses will organise their affairs in such a way as to ensure that they are timely compliant both as regards the filing of tax returns and the payment of tax debts as they arise. This is an essential element in ensuring a strong tax compliance culture and a level playing field between businesses. As Ireland's tax and customs authority, I believe Revenue's expectations in that regard are appropriate and correct.

However, Revenue is prepared to work with businesses that may experience short term cash flow challenges which impact on their ability to be timely compliant. A critical consideration for Revenue is the viability of the businesses concerned and their capacity to meet future tax liabilities as they arise. Revenue has strongly encouraged early engagement by businesses with payment difficulties, and I am advised by Revenue that such engagement must be time bound and cannot be seen or used as a mechanism to defer payment of future debts as they arise. Early engagement with Revenue, and the putting in place of appropriate measures with Revenue's agreement to secure timely compliance, is therefore the correct approach that businesses experiencing the type of difficulties referred to by the Deputy should take.

Tourism Industry

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

108 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Taoiseach the number of foreign tourists that have visited Ireland each year since 2000 to date in 2010; broken down by country of origin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41758/10]

Data on overseas travel to Ireland is published in the CSO's Overseas Travel release. This release is based on the results of the CSO's Country of Residence Survey, which is conducted at airports and seaports in the Republic of Ireland.

The most recently published figures relate to June 2010. Data in respect of July, August and September 2010 will be published on Thursday 11th November 2010.

Detailed visitor data by country of residence is only available from 2005 onwards. Therefore, to facilitate comparisons, the data is presented by broad residency group.

Number of Overseas visitors1 to Ireland by country of residency

Year

Country of Residence

Great Britain

Other Europe

North America

Other Areas

2000

3,559,300

1,452,900

1,044,600

256,400

2001

3,462,300

1,356,500

911,700

259,800

2002

3,578,800

1,391,700

849,300

245,100

2003

3,718,900

1,496,800

904,000

249,300

2004

3,680,600

1,600,200

976,700

317,100

2005

3,824,700

1,912,000

950,800

290,100

2006

4,059,800

2,280,700

1,054,600

313,800

2007

4,031,900

2,590,400

1,073,100

316,800

2008

3,872,400

2,610,300

1,004,600

351,700

2009

3,257,000

2,382,300

980,400

307,900

20102

1,228,500

867,100

401,400

129,500

1 Data does not include visitors from Northern Ireland.

2 Figures for the year up to June 2010 only.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

109 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Taoiseach the average amount spent by foreign tourists in Ireland each year since 2000 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41760/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table in respect of the years 2000 to 2009. Data for 2010 is not yet available.

Overseas visits to Ireland and expenditure by overseas visitors to Ireland, 2000-2009

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Total overseas visits (000s)

6,310

5,990

6,065

6,369

6,574

6,977

7,709

8,012

7,839

6,927

Overseas expenditure in Ireland (€m)

2,617

2,893

3,045

3,198

3,204

3,455

3,793

3,920

3,834

3,109

Average expenditure per Overseas visit (€)

415

483

502

502

487

495

492

489

489

449

Total Overseas expenditure, including fare payments to Irish Carriers (€m)

3,430

3,713

3,768

3,831

3,838

4,037

4,456

4,646

4,520

3,633

State Airports

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

110 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Taoiseach if the Central Statistics Office includes the debt of the Dublin Airport Authority in its calculations of the general Government debt that it compiles for EUROSTAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41757/10]

The borrowings of the Dublin Airport Authority are not included in the General Government Debt calculations. In the system of National Accounts, the General Government Sector consists only of publically owned, non-market entities. Commercial state-owned enterprises (like the Dublin Airport Authority) are not included as part of the General Government sector and therefore, their debt does not form part of the General Government Debt figure.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

111 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42091/10]

Seven staff from my Department availed of the incentivised career break scheme and the total savings to the end of 2010 are estimated as €322,606.

Vocational Education Committees

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

112 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for the proposed amalgamation of vocational education committees, when and how a decision will be made regarding the location of offices and if Wexford will retain a base in this respect; if voluntary redundancy packages will be available to staff and the other options available to staff in terms of relocation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41753/10]

Implementation of the Government decision to reduce the overall number of VECs to from 33 to 16 will be carried within a timeframe of approximately 18 months.

Many of the detailed aspects of the restructuring, including the location of the headquarters of the new VECs and the number of administrative staff which each of the new VEC entities will have, will fall to be considered and worked through by my Department in conjunction with the VECs involved in any one merger before decisions are taken.

Implementation will also involve consultation with the unions representing employees in the sector and other stakeholders. The Croke Park Agreement provides the basis upon which the precise detail of staff redeployment will operate and will be worked through in consultation with the unions that are a party to that agreement.

Schools Building Projects

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

113 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on the extension of a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41796/10]

The school referred to by the Deputy was authorised earlier this year to tender for the appointment of a design team.

The Board of Management has finalised its assessment of the tenders received and unless unforeseen issues arise the appointment process is expected to be completed shortly. The design team, once appointed, will then commence work on stage 1 of architectural planning.

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

114 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on the new school building for an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41798/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process.

Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that the project will progress to construction in the near future.

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

115 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on an extension for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41801/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for a new school. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band rating of 2.1. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest.

Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on the Department's website. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

116 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on the provision of a second level school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41802/10]

The most recent projections produced by my Department are forecasting an increase in the projected enrolments at post-primary level in the coming years. It is within this context that the Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the area to which the Deputy refers will be considered as part of this process and an appropriate long term accommodation solution to the needs of the area will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

117 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on the extension of a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41803/10]

I can confirm that in May 2008, my Department offered the school to which the Deputy refers, an all-in devolved grant for the provision of an 80m2 mainstream classroom. I understand the project was completed in July 2009.

In June 2010, the school was approved funding to build a further 80m2 mainstream classroom and three 16m2 learning support rooms.

The school subsequently requested that the funding be increased to permit the construction of additional accommodation to include two mainstream classrooms, principal's office, parents' room, staffroom, toilets and cleaner's store. The school was advised in a letter in July 2010 that the Department was not in a position to grant the additional funding sought in this case. However, the school were advised to complete and submit a formal application for Grant Aid for Major Capital Works for the additional accommodation sought and to proceed with the works approved in June. To date the school has neither submitted the application nor drawn down the significant funding approved in June 2010.

Vocational Education Committees

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

118 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of staff employed by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee and County Dublin VEC for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41808/10]

As the Deputy is aware, Vocational Education Committees, including City of Dublin VEC and County Dublin VEC, are statutory bodies which employ and pay their own staff. Nonetheless, my Department holds information regarding staffing levels for certain categories of VEC employees.

The number of teaching posts allocated to a VEC scheme at any one time is determined in accordance with the agreed criteria relating to the application of the pupil teacher ratio. The National Council for Special Education is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers, for allocating special needs assistants (SNAs) to schools and for reviewing such allocations. The number of whole time equivalent (WTE) teacher and SNA posts allocated to City and County Dublin VECs for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 are provided in the attached tables. My Department also monitors staff numbers for certain categories of VEC non-teaching staff for the purposes of the public sector number returns. Such categories include administrative and maintenance staff in schools, centres for education and administrative offices. The numbers of WTE posts in these categories in City and County Dublin VECs in 2009 and 2010 are also included in the attached tables. Equivalent information is not readily available for 2007 or 2008 and would involve an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile.

Schools Building Projects

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

119 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on the Educate Together proposal for a second level school at a location (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41834/10]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the Swords area will be fully considered in this context.

In addition to this I have recently announced my intention to put in place a new framework in relation to the establishment of new second-level schools and their patronage, whereby an expert Group to be known as the Second-Level Patronage Advisory Group will be established to consider applications for new schools and advise me in relation to those applications, having undertaken survey work of parental views and using the criteria to be set down.

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

120 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a progress report on a school’s (details supplied) proposal for a second level all-Irish school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41835/10]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the area referred to by the Deputy, including the case for the provision of a new second level all Irish language school, will be fully considered in this context.

Job Losses

Joe Carey

Ceist:

121 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 199 of 20 October 2009, if she will confirm the efforts she has made to date in making an application for EU Globalisation Fund assistance for workers who have lost their jobs in the Shannon area and the greater mid-western region particularly in view of recent job losses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41836/10]

In December 2009, the application submitted to the European Commission under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in June 2009 for assistance in co-financing supports for workers made redundant at the DELL computer manufacturing plant in Raheen and ancillary enterprises in the Mid West region was approved by the EU Budgetary Authority. Some of the redundant workers included for assistance in that EGF application were from the Shannon area and are amongst the 2,600 workers who have directly benefited from supports under the Dell EGF programme. Strict eligibility criteria must be satisfied under the EU EGF Regulation in order for a Member State to make a sustainable application for EGF assistance in respect of redundancies occurring in a particular enterprise or sector. These criteria include inter alia meeting defined minimum redundancy numbers within certain reference periods.

In this context the EGF Regulation stipulates that, in eligibility terms there must have been at least 500 redundancies, over a period of four months, in respect of a single enterprise, its suppliers or downstream producers, or at least 500 redundancies, over a period of nine months, in a specific NACE 2 (economic activity) sector.

In assessing the number of total redundancies made by companies in the Mid-West region in recent months, it is the Department's view that the key criterion of 500 redundancies per enterprise has not been met and hence do not facilitate the making of a sustainable EGF application.

My Department continues to monitor redundancy figures for all enterprises and all sectors nationally with a view to ascertaining whether further sustainable EGF applications can be made, as and where appropriate.

Adult Education

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

122 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason persons currently on disability benefit who could benefit from further training are not eligible for the labour market activation scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41846/10]

The Labour Market Activation Fund sought proposals from organisations for the creation of full or part-time training and education provision targeting specific priority groups among the unemployed, namely — the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors such as construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, with particular emphasis on the under 35's and the long-term unemployed (i.e. unemployed for at least one year).

For the purposes of this Fund, prospective participants on programmes eligible for Fund support must be jobseeker's who have been in receipt of an unemployment payment for a period of at least three consecutive months. Everyone who satisfies this criteria, including anyone who has a disability, is eligible to participate.

Eligibility criteria for individual social welfare payments is a matter for the Minister for Social Protection.

Special Educational Needs

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

123 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if home school tuition will be provided for a child (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41855/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the home tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for pre-school children with autism. I understand from officials in my Department that the child in question is not eligible for home tuition as there is a school placement available.

Telecommunications Services

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

124 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in view of the significant information and other services provided to Internet sites to both the public as well as to staff, the processes, standards or recommendations in place to ensure that the design, development and maintenance of all such sites consistently complies with legislative requirements, technical standards and industry best practice in terms of data protection, security, accessibility and usability. [41993/10]

Web applications designed, developed and maintained by my Department are done so on the basis of requirements agreed with the user community. These requirements incorporate, where appropriate, legislative requirements, technical standards and data protection, security, accessibility and usability requirements. The web applications are subjected to extensive user acceptance testing before going live to ensure that these requirements have been met. My Department also has a contract in place with an independent security company which provides six-monthly security health checks on all the Department's web applications. In addition, this company provides my Department with advice on data protection issues in respect of these applications.

Ministerial Correspondence

Joe Costello

Ceist:

125 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42007/10]

My Department replied to the correspondence to which the Deputy refers on 9 November, 2010.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Ahern

Ceist:

126 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding plans for a new school (details supplied); the stage the development plans are at and when contract approval can expect to be given. [42008/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for a new school building. In accordance with the published criteria for large scale building projects, the project for this school has been assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including this project, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Noel Ahern

Ceist:

127 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if there is a problem with approvals for building projects for a school (details supplied); her views on the assertion that no approvals have been given for over 12 months to projects in this category; if she will list approvals given in the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42009/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that all applications for capital funding from all categories of recognised schools are assessed in the Planning and Building Unit of my Department and assigned an appropriate band rating on the basis of need. The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on the Department's website, www.education.ie. The assessment process determines the extent and type of accommodation needed based on population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and the capacity of existing schools to meet the demand for pupil places. As part of this process, a project is assigned a band rating under the prioritisation criteria. I am attaching for the Deputy's information details of projects within the school category in question that are currently under construction, at tender stage and that have recently been completed. The progression of all further large scale building projects, including projects for schools within the category in question, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of such projects at this time. I can assure the Deputy that all school building projects, including those referred to by him, will be advanced through the system, over time in accordance with the band rating assigned to them. In the meantime, it is open to all schools to apply to my Department for capital funding to meet any urgent accommodation needs.

Teaching Qualifications

Joe Behan

Ceist:

128 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will assist a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42013/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, the recognition of teacher qualifications in this State is now a matter for the Teaching Council, the body with statutory responsibility for establishing and maintaining standards in the teaching profession. Accordingly, I am sure you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in individual cases. It is my understanding that the person referred to by the Deputy is employed by a Vocational Education Committee, which is a statutory body with its own corporate status established under the Vocational Education Acts, 1930 to 2001. The conditions of employment of the person to whom this question refers are a matter for the VEC as her employer. Should clarification be required on any matter my Department will advise the VEC directly.

Departmental Expenditure

Joe Carey

Ceist:

129 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the expenditure by her Department on grants towards the purchase of prefabricated buildings for schools in County Clare in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42014/10]

Expenditure on the purchase of prefabricated buildings in County Clare in respect of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 is as follows:

2008 — €558,684;

2009 — €218,104;

2010 — No expenditure incurred to date.

Special Educational Needs

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

130 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal for home tuition grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the child in question was recently deemed unsuitable for placement in three different schools; the reason for the delay in processing this appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42015/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the home tuition scheme provides a grant to parents to facilitate the provision of education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The appeal referred to by the Deputy is currently being considered by my Department and a decision will issue to the family shortly.

Schools Building Projects

James Reilly

Ceist:

131 Deputy James Reilly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when the purchase of a site for a new secondary school at Lusk, County Dublin will be completed (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42060/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that officials in my Department have been advised by Fingal County Council that terms have been agreed between the various parties concerned and the Council in relation to the acquisition of a site in the Rush/Lusk area. Fingal County Council have advised my Department that the matter is with the respective legal advisors for completion of the conveyancing stage. Until that conveyancing is completed, the Council will not be in a position to request funding from my Department.

School Placement

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

132 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the current position and her response to parents in south County Dublin for the establishment of a gaelcolaiste to meet the secondary school needs of children graduating from the many successful gaelscolieanna in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42077/10]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the area in South County Dublin referred to by the Deputy, including the case for the provision of a new second level all Irish language school, will be fully considered in this context.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

133 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in her Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42083/10]

21 staff from my Department availed of the Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme 2009. The net savings are expected to be approximately €1,920,000. This figure is based on salary savings plus employers PRSI saving less the incentive payments made to the relevant staff under the Scheme.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

134 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the amount of demand deposits, interbank lending, senior debt, subordinated debt, total wholesale funding, retail deposits, total funding, deposit protection and total liabilities covered by the bank guarantee when the guarantee was introduced and at the most recently available date; the amount of funding provided to these banks by the European Central Bank at each of these dates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41761/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme (CIFS) expired on 29 September 2010.

Subordinated debt and secured debt are not covered under the ELG Scheme.

At the end of September 2008, a total of €375.25 billion was covered by the CIFS. The most recent figures available from the Central Bank are those for the end of September 2010, and total €146.7 billion covered by the ELG.

The breakdown of the total liabilities is commercially sensitive information and it would not be appropriate for me as Minister for Finance to provide the information in that format.

I have no function in regard to the level of ECB lending as this is a matter for the ECB and the associated national central banks. It would be inappropriate for Ministers to comment on specific institutions in that regard.

Tax Yield

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

135 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if he will list all taxes and VAT that the State imposes on air travel; the amount of revenue collected by each of these taxes in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41764/10]

There are no levies or charges imposed by the State on air travel apart from the air travel tax, which is the subject of the Deputy's related question to the Minister for Finance (Question No. 525)

Airport charges are set by the airport authority at each airport. In the case of Dublin Airport, these charges are regulated by the Commission for Aviation Regulation who sets the maximum level of charges that can be applied.

National Debt

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

136 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money spent servicing the national debt and the average interest rate paid each year from 2000 to 2009; the projected cost of servicing the national debt and the projected average interest rate that will be paid each year from 2010 until 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41765/10]

The table sets out the cost of servicing the interest on the national debt and the average interest paid on outstanding debt for the period 2000-2010 as advised by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

Debt Servicing Interest Costs

Average Interest Rate%

€bn

2000

2.1

5.4

2001

1.9

5.2

2002

1.7

4.6

2003

1.8

4.8

2004

1.7

4.4

2005

1.7

4.5

2006

1.9

5.0

2007

1.6

4.4

2008

1.5

3.5

2009

2.5

4.1

2010

4.1*

4.8

*Current forecast for debt servicing interest costs in 2010.

In relation to the forecasts for debt interest costs for the period 2011-2014, the detailed macro-economic and fiscal projections for the period 2011-2014 are currently being revised by my Department in the context of the publication of the Government's Four-Year Budgetary Plan. While the up-to-date forecasts are still being finalised, the debt servicing interest costs for the period 2011-2014 as set out in Budget 2010 are informative and are detailed in the table below. For commercial reasons the NTMA does not disclose interest rate assumptions underpinning the forecasts for interest costs on national debt. Projections for debt servicing interest costs are not currently available for the years beyond 2014.

2011

2012

2013

2014

Debt Servicing Interest Costs €bn*

*Figures in table based on forecasts contained in Budget 2010.

Tax Yield

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

137 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the amount the Exchequer has received from overseas tourism each year since 2000 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41768/10]

I am informed by the Department of Tourism, Culture & Sport that over the eight year period from 2000 to 2007 the contribution to the exchequer was estimated at €16.2 billion. Based on Fáilte Ireland's economic model, the estimated contribution for 2008 and 2009 was €2 billion. The total identified contribution to the Exchequer over the ten year period is €18.2 billion.

The table below outlines the value of overseas tourism's contribution to the exchequer over the past ten years. It is too early at this stage to provide figures for this current year 2010.

Year

Foreign Exchange Earnings

Exchequer Savings

€m

€m

2000

3,637

1,700

2001

3.935

1,900

2002

3,989

1,900

2003

4,057

2,000

2004

4,065

2,000

2005

4,272

2,100

2006

4,692

2,270

2007

4,902

2,370

2008

4,781

1,100

2009

3,879

600

Source: Central Statistics Office/Fáilte Ireland.

Note: A new model for measuring the economic contribution of tourism was developed in 2008 and as such the results shown above for 2008 and 2009 are NOT comparable to the earlier results for the period 2000-2007, inclusive. The earlier estimates were based on a static model that was updated in 2002. The new model is designed to provide updated data on an annual basis reflecting the current taxation environment and in line with today's best practice, no longer includes a government interacting component. It is not possible to apply the new model to the earlier years data retrospectively.

Total Exchequer Earnings

Year

€m

2000-2007

16,240

2008-2009

2,000

Total:

2000-2009

18,240

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

138 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the yield from the 13.5% VAT rate to date in 2010; the yield from the 21% VAT rate to date in 2010; the equivalent figures for the same period in 2009; the figures for each of these yields for the full year in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41769/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated breakdown of the net yield of VAT at the reduced and standard rate to date in 2010, for the same period in 2009 and for the full year in 2009 is set out in the following table.

Reduced Rate

Standard Rate

Total

€m

€m

€m

2010 To end October

2,953

5,483

8,436

2009 To end October

3,124

5,801

8,925

2009 Full Year

3,690

6,948

10,638

Precise figures of the breakdown of VAT receipts by tax rate are not available and consequently the figures provided are tentative estimates.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

139 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on a proposal (details supplied) as part of dealing with the current economic situation. [41782/10]

As the Deputy is aware, a windfall tax rate of 80% was introduced under the National Asset Management Agency Act and applies to the portion of any profit or gain made on the disposal of land which is attributable to a rezoning, where both the rezoning and the disposal of land giving rise to the windfall occur after 30 October 2009. Finance Act 2010 extended this tax to portion of any profit or gain made on the disposal of land which is attributable to a "material contravention" decision by a local authority, where both the material contravention decision and the disposal occur after 4 February 2010.

A disposal giving rise to a capital gain is subject to the Capital Gains Tax rate in force at the time of the disposal. It is not feasible to seek further tax from a disposal where all tax liabilities were satisfied.

Senior Debt Obligations

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

140 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will specify where under Irish law it is mandated that senior bondholders have the same status as depositors or holders of Irish sovereign debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41811/10]

As the Deputy is aware I set out in my statement of 30th September 2010 that the position is that senior debt obligations of financial institutions rank equally with deposits and other creditors under Irish law. I indicated that I have no plans to change this position. This position was confirmed by the NTMA in a statement on 7th October 2010 a week later. The legal position is that in the absence of a subordination agreement, where a financial institution is being wound up the principle that applies is pari passu, meaning all unsecured creditors have equal ranking to be repaid by the financial institution. So, where there is a shortfall in assets all unsecured creditors are entitled to an equal dividend. The principle of creditor equality is also enshrined in the Credit Institutions Winding Up Directive 2001/17/EC.

In the context of a company that is continuing in business as a going concern the principle of pari passu does not apply although the effect is similar. Where a company has debts, they are liable to pay those debts and each debtor has an equal right to be repaid whether that person's debt arises on foot of a bond or a deposit. In either case the terms of the repayment will obviously be determined by the instrument creating or evidencing the debt — repayable on demand or at a certain future time. I would add that the principle of equal entitlement to be repaid their debts as amongst unsecured creditors is subject to the absence of one of them being obliged by contract to be postponed in favour of another.

It must also be remembered that depositors who suffer a loss in the event of a financial institution being wound up insolvent are entitled to compensation up to a certain amount under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme and/or the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme.

Pension Provisions

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

141 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements in place to allow certain persons within the public service to obtain additional years towards their pension rights; if these arrangements are available equally to all public servants or if there are individual schemes in different workplaces; the way he can ensure that opportunities are made available fairly on an adequate basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41821/10]

There are various arrangements in operation throughout the Civil and Public Services which can provide added years for superannuation purposes.

Professional Added Years Schemes — these schemes apply to certain professional, technical and specialist posts in both the Civil and Public Service. They provide for the granting of added years in certain cases where the minimum essential requirements of a competition are such that they would prohibit a candidate from entering in sufficient time to acquire maximum service for maximum superannuation benefits. In addition, there is a specific provision within the Local Government superannuation arrangements to award professional added years to officers employed in certain specified professional grades.

Added years may be granted to employees in the Civil and Public Service who retire on the grounds of ill health.

Section 6 of the Superannuation Act 1909 and Sections 6 and 7 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act 1963 set out rules governing the early retirement of Civil Servants as a result of abolition of office or for the purpose of facilitating improvements in order to effect greater efficiency and economy in the organisation of a Department. Section 6 of the 1963 Act provides for the granting of added years. (These provisions may apply to Secretaries General at the end of their contracts; similar provisions apply to County Managers under the Local Government Superannuation Scheme). In the wider Public Service these provisions serve as guidelines in dealing with similar cases.

Chief Executive Officers of Non-Commercial State Sponsored Bodies may be granted added years at the end of their contract, subject to certain conditions.

Purchase of Notional Service Scheme — this scheme permits an individual who will not have sufficient service for maximum superannuation benefits at normal preserved pension age to purchase additional years of service at full actuarial cost to the individual and is available in both the Civil and Public Service.

Budget Submissions

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

142 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a pre-budget submission from the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41840/10]

I have not received a pre-Budget submission from the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament. However, I did meet with their representative last week at a Pre-Budget meeting with the Community and Voluntary Pillar.

Flood Relief

Joe Carey

Ceist:

143 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 511 of the 29 September 2010 the position regarding a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41854/10]

In relation to the Ballybeg area, the OPW has agreed in principle to provide funding to Clare County Council for works pertaining to this location, the amount of which remains confidential, as a tender process is currently under way. These works will involve placement of a culvert northwards across the Limerick road to convey flood waters to the Clareabbey backdrain lands. Clare County Council hope to commence this work in April 2011, with a projected completion date of October 2011.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

144 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41986/10]

Iarnród Éireann, as the body responsible for the maintenance and safety of the railway line network, have appointed consultants to carry out a study of the flooding problem and recommend possible solutions. Any works relating to the permanent way that may be recommended by the consultants in their study would be a matter for Iarnród Éireann to implement.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Ceist:

145 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance his views in relation to a matter (details supplied); if the matter can be dealt with given the concerns expressed by the person as stated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41999/10]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that a significant tax debt was paid over six months late in this instance and Revenue sought to collect an interest debt arising from this late payment. This matter was the subject of an appeal to Revenue and also the subject of a joint review by Revenue and an external reviewer at the request of the business concerned. The finding of the review was that the interest charge was properly due and payable.

Interest on late payment of tax underpins the self-assessment system by encouraging timely compliance. It also ensures that those who meet their tax obligations on time are not disadvantaged vis-à-vis those who pay late.

I am advised by Revenue that as the interest is properly due, arrangements should now be put in place for early payment.

Tax Yield

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

146 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the saving and yield for the Exchequer if an annual absolute cap of tax relievable pension contributions were introduced using the following caps: €10,000, €20,000, €30,000, €40,000, €50,000, €60,000 and using the following assumptions (details supplied). [42003/10]

As explained in my responses to previous questions in this area, the Revenue Commissioners inform me that breakdowns of the individual contributions to pension savings on which tax relief are sought are only available on an historical basis in respect of Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) and to the extent that these figures are included in tax returns to Revenue. The latest year for which the fullest data in this area are available is 2007. Contributions by employees to Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution occupational pension schemes are returned by their employers in aggregate form each year and are not available on an individual taxpayer basis. In order to arrive at some estimate of the costs or savings from suggested changes to the existing tax relief arrangements, the Revenue Commissioners must make assumptions about the breakdown of these aggregate employee contributions to occupational pension schemes using the historical breakdown of actual contributions to PRSAs and RACs as a guideline. Such breakdowns and the costings derived from them must, however, be regarded as tentative estimates.

Employer contributions to occupational pension schemes are likewise returned to Revenue on an aggregate basis each year. However, there is no acceptable basis on which to disaggregate these contributions across the population of individual contributors to pension schemes in the manner outlined in the question. The estimated figures provided below do not, therefore, take account of employer contributions. Finally, details of the liabilities of Defined Benefit schemes to their members are not required to be returned to the Revenue Commissioners.

Having regard to the foregoing, the estimates of the full year effects to the Exchequer from the application of the caps outlined in the question, in substitution for the replacement of the current annual earnings cap of €150,000 and associated age-related percentage limits, are tentative and are set out in the table:

Proposed Contribution Cap

Estimated Exchequer Yield/Cost

€m

10,000

151 (yield)

20,000

80 (yield)

30,000

38 (yield)

40,000

10 (yield)

50,000

12 (cost)

60,000

27 (cost)

It should be noted that the higher contribution caps proposed in the question would give rise to a net cost to the Exchequer as indicated in the table. This arises because claims that currently do not qualify for tax relief due to the impact of the earnings cap of €150,000 and associated age-related percentage limits would qualify for relief in the event of the removal of those limits.

I should also point out that in costing the details of this question as set out above, the response to a previous question (38429/10 of 21 October 2010, Order No 89) was re-examined. The response to that question had indicated that the figures provided at that time had been calculated on the basis of excluding the impact of the existing annual earnings cap and age-related limits. The costings given in that response had, in fact, taken account of those limits. For the sake of clarity and consistency, I am re-stating hereunder the table of figures provided in the response to question 38429/10 but excluding, on this occasion, the impacts of the earnings and age-related limits on the same basis as in the table above.

Proposed Contribution Cap

Estimated Exchequer Yield/Cost

€m

5,000

215 (yield)

10,000

151 (yield)

15,000

110 (yield)

20,000

80 (yield)

25,000

57 (yield)

30,000

38 (yield)

35,000

23 (yield)

40,000

10 (yield)

45,000

2 (cost)

50,000

12 (cost)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

147 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the estimated yield for the Exchequer if the minimum effective tax rate for higher earners factored in tax relief on all pension related tax reliefs. [42004/10]

The existing restriction of reliefs or horizontal measure is activated where individuals have an adjusted income of €125,000 and claim specified reliefs of €80,000 or more. Those subject to the full restriction, at adjusted incomes of €400,000 or greater will pay an effective income tax rate of 30% in addition to PRSI and levies. Broadly, the reliefs restricted are the various property based tax incentives and certain other reliefs such as the Business Expansion Scheme, film relief and donations relief. Also restricted are certain tax exemptions including artistic income and patent royalties. The normal deductible items available to the broad range of taxpayers such as medical expenses, trade union subscriptions, the personal tax credits and exemptions such as that for child benefit are not restricted. Similarly, normal business expenses and deductions for capital allowances on plant and machinery, as well as genuine business related trading losses are not restricted.

A reliable estimate of the yield to the Exchequer if tax relief on pension contributions was brought within the ambit of the restriction could only be provided by a significant development of the costing model, which would be prohibitive in terms of the resources required. An indicative and very tentative estimate of the full year yield that might arise if contributions to Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) were subjected to the restriction could be of the order of €30 million to €40 million.

With regard to occupational pensions (schemes set up by employers), the figures in respect of employee contributions are available only in aggregate form and do not provide a basis for compiling a corresponding estimate.

Pension Provisions

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

148 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the estimated saving for the Exchequer in each of the scenarios where public service pensions were capped at €100,000 and at values higher than this at intervals of €10,000. [42005/10]

It is estimated that the imposition of caps on pensions in the civil service would give rise to the following savings:

A cap of €100,000 would yield a saving of €1.34 million.

A cap of €110,000 would yield a saving of €0.59 million.

A cap of €120,000 would yield a saving of €0.25 million.

A cap of €130,000 would yield a saving of €0.05 million.

A cap of €140,000 would yield a saving of €0.01 million.

Comparable data are not available for the public service as a whole.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

149 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if, in respect of Appendix D of the Green Paper on Pensions, he will provide the same information in respect of PRSAs and RACs for the past year for which figures are available. [42006/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant information available is in respect of income tax relief allowed for contributions to Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) for the income tax year 2007. RACs and PRSAs are available to the self-employed and to employees not in occupational pension schemes. The information is set out in the tables, which provide the number of cases, amount of deduction and reduction in tax for tax relief for RACs and PRSAs for the various contribution ranges.

The information is based on income returns contained in Revenue records at the time the data were compiled for analytical purposes, representing in the region of 90% of all returns expected.

A married couple who has elected or has deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

INCOME TAX 2007

Retirement Annuity — by range of Gross Income.

Range of gross income

Totals

From

To

Number of cases

Amount of deduction

Reduction in tax

Tax due for payment

Gross Tax*

Reduction in tax as % of Gross Tax

%

9,000

677

890,433

7,322

1,028

8,350

87.7

9,000

10,000

139

200,186

8,111

245

8,356

97.1

10,000

12,000

453

694,759

69,726

12,328

82,054

85.0

12,000

15,000

1,009

1,801,088

232,930

143,996

376,926

61.8

15,000

17,000

875

1,701,377

239,534

258,588

498,122

48.1

17,000

20,000

1,686

3,413,306

513,950

710,227

1,224,177

42.0

20,000

25,000

4,069

8,560,225

1,520,778

2,944,869

4,465,647

34.1

25,000

27,000

1,886

3,980,967

751,331

1,966,501

2,717,832

27.6

27,000

30,000

3,166

7,099,120

1,367,261

4,074,590

5,441,851

25.1

30,000

35,000

5,987

14,686,475

2,894,682

10,500,637

13,395,319

21.6

35,000

40,000

6,308

16,608,553

4,109,613

15,247,551

19,357,164

21.2

40,000

50,000

12,354

39,221,676

11,425,057

44,823,408

56,248,465

20.3

50,000

60,000

10,986

42,422,932

13,034,048

58,431,806

71,465,854

18.2

60,000

75,000

13,785

64,466,498

19,413,380

106,238,008

125,651,388

15.5

75,000

100,000

14,930

100,895,133

31,864,021

181,868,259

213,732,280

14.9

100,000

150,000

11,566

136,437,525

48,461,182

245,861,115

294,322,297

16.5

150,000

200,000

4,236

87,373,102

33,266,582

152,726,123

185,992,705

17.9

200,000

250,000

2,422

73,319,526

28,675,649

124,352,651

153,028,300

18.7

Over

250,000

6,362

332,889,619

133,131,735

839,253,729

972,385,464

13.7

Totals

102,896

936,662,500

330,986,892

1,789,415,659

2,120,402,551

15.6

*"Gross tax" means the tax that would be due before relief is allowed for retirement annuity deductions.

The figures do not include contributions made by employees through employers' payroll systems and in respect of which tax relief is provided on the net pay basis. Information on such contributions is not captured in such a way as to make it possible to provide disaggregated figures.

INCOME TAX 2007

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts — by range of Gross Income.

Range of gross income

Totals

From

To

Number of cases

Amount of deduction

Reduction in tax

Tax due for payment

Gross Tax *

Reduction in tax as % of Gross Tax

%

9,000

126

186,165

256

110

366

69.9

9,000

10,000

24

44,683

1,561

55

1,616

96.6

10,000

12,000

80

132,136

12,046

2,847

14,893

80.9

12,000

15,000

171

298,142

42,275

21,793

64,068

66.0

15,000

17,000

142

324,809

40,178

34,243

74,421

54.0

17,000

20,000

397

764,059

130,187

93,733

223,920

58.1

20,000

25,000

986

1,937,405

362,642

589,240

951,882

38.1

25,000

27,000

469

968,064

185,605

494,976

680,581

27.3

27,000

30,000

785

1,709,741

331,555

1,086,812

1,418,367

23.4

30,000

35,000

1,330

3,103,220

625,828

2,582,594

3,208,422

19.5

35,000

40,000

1,328

3,674,148

1,030,084

3,560,495

4,590,579

22.4

40,000

50,000

2,193

7,066,857

2,258,955

9,097,529

11,356,484

19.9

50,000

60,000

1,798

6,614,692

2,198,980

10,841,069

13,040,049

16.9

60,000

75,000

2,124

9,913,302

3,189,679

17,458,735

20,648,414

15.4

75,000

100,000

2,076

13,417,874

5,234,366

27,371,125

32,605,491

16.1

100,000

150,000

1,471

14,676,955

5,972,349

34,485,746

40,458,095

14.8

150,000

200,000

488

7,462,722

3,057,334

19,228,877

22,286,211

13.7

200,000

250,000

219

4,523,914

1,846,039

11,838,134

13,684,173

13.5

Over

250,000

443

15,718,308

6,424,298

55,835,688

62,259,986

10.3

Totals

16,650

92,537,196

32,944,217

194,623,801

227,568,018

14.5

*"Gross tax" means the tax that would be due before relief is allowed for PRSA deductions.

The figures do not include contributions made by employees through employers' payroll systems and in respect of which tax relief is provided on the net pay basis. Information on such contributions is not captured in such a way as to make it possible to provide disaggregated figures.

Garda Stations

Noel Ahern

Ceist:

150 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding plans for the now vacant Garda station (details supplied); if still allocated to the gardaí, its future plans for same and if the Office of Public Works has considered other uses for this building if not required by gardaí or the Department of Justice and Law Reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42011/10]

The building in question has been vacated by the Gardaí and is not required for public use. The Commissioners of Public Works are arranging to dispose of the property on the open market.

Fiscal Policy

Joe Costello

Ceist:

151 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the reason the National Assets Management Agency has been lending money to developers whose assets were non-performing (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42023/10]

I do not propose to comment on the circumstances of individual debtors. NAMA is currently engaging with the largest debtors whose loans have been acquired from the participating institutions. The draft business plans of these debtors are being subjected to rigorous review and only where a debtor can demonstrate viability will that engagement continue. In a number of cases, NAMA informs me that it will advance funds to enable projects to be brought to completion but this will only be done where it makes commercial sense to do so.

Art Collection

Mary Upton

Ceist:

152 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if he will give an assurance that the art collection located in Allied Irish Banks will not be sold; his views that since the State is a major shareholder in Allied Irish Banks, it is only appropriate that this shareholder should be consulted on the future of the art collection; if he considers it appropriate that since this collection is effectively owned by the State it should be available for viewing by the general public; the action he plans to take to ensure that the collection is made available for public viewing [42026/10]

I understand that the Deputy also put down a similar question to my colleague, the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture who will respond regarding matters relevant to her functional area. The State, at present, holds, through the National Pensions Reserve Fund, some 18% of the ordinary equity in the bank. Notwithstanding this and the expectation that this stake will increase substantially, the day to day management of the bank will remain on a normal commercial basis and the management of assets by Allied Irish Banks (AIB), including the holding or displaying of artworks will remain a matter for the board of the bank.

I understand from enquiries made that no discussions have taken place in relation to the sale or future plans for the AIB Art collection. This collection is described as a ‘working' collection and pieces are located at offices and branches across Ireland and in AIB international offices.

AIB operates an active policy of lending pieces, on request, to galleries across Ireland for exhibitions. In the last two years, it has stepped up this lending programme, which it intends to continue, with the objective of bringing the collection to a wider audience and supporting the arts in the communities.

Banking Sector

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

153 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that he has been given all the information regarding the full extent of indebtedness in the banking sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42034/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

154 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the reason the full extent of indebtedness in the banking system was not made known to him or his Department in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42035/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 and Question 154 together.

Information on the banking system is collected by the Central Bank and aggregate figures are routinely published. Since the introduction of the Guarantee, more detailed figures on the covered institutions have been supplied to my Department on a regular basis.

The annual reports of individual banks with audited figures are published regularly.

In addition, the Central Bank carried out an exercise to determine the forward-looking prudential capital requirements (PCAR) of financial institutions covered by the Guarantee. The PCAR assessed the capital requirements arising for expected base and potential stressed loan losses over a 3 year period and was undertaken to determine the recapitalisation requirements of the credit institutions.

The Deputy will be aware of the recapitalisation requirements of the banks which I spoke about in my Statement on Banking on 30 September 2010.

I am satisfied that the Central Bank monitors bank indebtedness and has kept me informed on his results.

Question No. 155 answered with Question No. 79.
Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 55.

Banking Sector Regulation

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

157 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that all the undesirable banking practices that led to the economic downturn have been corrected and provision made to ensure no recurrence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42038/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that the primary responsibility for managing a bank and for preventing undesirable practices in that bank lies with the board of directors and management of each institution. Boards of directors have a key role as the principal decision-making body in an institution and are responsible for exercising effective control over senior management. In this regard appropriate corporate governance arrangements and internal controls are essential prerequisites for effective and prudently managed organisations.

The Deputy will also be aware of the conclusions of the two recent reports into the banking crisis by Messrs Regling and Watson and by the Governor of the Central Bank. Messrs. Regling and Watson concluded, inter alia, that it was clear that there were especially egregious failures in corporate governance and risk management at Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. Following the publication of these reports, the Oireachtas approved the establishment of a statutory Commission of Investigation into the banking sector in Ireland. The Commission commenced its work on 21 September 2010 and is investigating, inter alia, the main causes of the serious failure within each of the covered institutions to implement and adhere to appropriate standards and controls in the context of corporate governance and prudent risk management policy and procedures. The Commission is expected to complete its report within six months.

It is also fair to say undesirable banking practices have not been exclusive to Ireland and the European Commission has prioritised the reform of corporate governance for financial institutions in light of the conclusions of the de Larosière report on the causes of the financial crisis. The Commission's Green Paper on Corporate Governance in the financial sector and remuneration policies, published in June 2010, highlights how the financial crisis clearly shows that financial institutions' boards of directors did not fulfil their key role as a principal decision-making body and consequently, boards of directors were unable to exercise effective control over senior management and to challenge the measures and strategic guidelines that were submitted to them for approval. The Commission also concludes that members of boards of directors, in particular non-executive directors, devoted neither sufficient resources nor time to the fulfilment of their duties. The Green Paper outlines a number of options to supplement existing legal provisions and those implemented or planned for the purpose of strengthening the financial system.

In recognition of the role of corporate governance, on 8 November the Central Bank of Ireland issued its Corporate Governance Code for credit institutions and insurance firms in Ireland which sets out new statutory rules to ensure that robust governance arrangements are in place so that appropriate oversight exists to avoid or minimise the risk of a future crisis. The Code sets out provisions on the membership of the Board of Directors, the role and responsibilities of the Chairman and other directors and the operation of various board committees. Where institutions fail to adhere to the Code's requirements, the Central Bank has the power to take sanctions against an institution, including the removal of directors.

Finally, the Government has also taken significant steps to reform the domestic regulatory system. The Central Bank Reform Act 2010, which commenced on 1 October 2010, is the first step in a substantial legislative reform programme and establishes a new fully-integrated structure for financial regulation and enhances the powers and functions of the Central Bank.

The Government is currently preparing a second Bill to provide for further enhancements to the regulatory powers and functions of the restructured Bank. Subsequent legislation will consolidate all legislation relating to the Central Bank and its supervision of the financial services sector. I am satisfied that these measures will ensure that there will be no repetition of the banking practices which have given rise to very substantial costs for the State and have contributed significantly to the deterioration of economic conditions in Ireland.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

158 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the action he has taken to ensure that banks lend to productive sectors in an effort to assist the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42039/10]

In the subscription agreement, AIB and Bank of Ireland were tasked with making available 10% additional capacity for SME lending in 2009. The recapitalised banks stated that there were no constraints on lending to viable businesses. However, the 10% target did not result in the expected level of additional lending. Thus, in the context of NAMA at the end of March, both AIB and Bank of Ireland were required to produce credible lending plans for how they will lend €3bn per annum (covering the period April to April) to SMEs.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department and Mr. Trethowan of the Credit Review Office receive monthly progress reports from the two banks which allow us to monitor their lending to viable businesses in all sectors of the economy and in every area of the country. I also established the Credit Review Office to ensure that AIB and Bank of Ireland would lend to viable businesses. Mr. Trethowan has recently reported to the Department that both AIB and Bank of Ireland remain open for business and I would strongly encourage borrowers to use the Credit Review Office if they find this is not so.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

159 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the banking sector to return to traditional banking and lending practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42040/10]

In many ways, the banking sector has returned to traditional banking practices with credit only being advanced when the bank is satisfied that the customer has the capacity to repay the loan and the interest as it becomes due. Mr Trethowan of the Credit Review Office considers that the two banks covered by that Office have returned to being prudent cash flow lenders to SMEs. His Office is available to undertake reviews of decisions to refuse or withdraw credit if necessary but the number of requests for review does not reflect the number of complaints being made about lack of credit.

In relation to mortgages, lending standards have placed renewed emphasis on prudence for example maximum loan to value ratios etc. A low level of demand seems to be the main reason for low levels of new lending and supply side issues do not appear significant.

Flood Relief

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

160 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the total cost of flood prevention and flood alleviation in each of the past two years; the extent to which such sums have been included in application through the EU for flood relief moneys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42041/10]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has invested approximately €61.5 million on Capital Flood Relief Activities in 2008/09, with €24.9 million spent in 2008, and €36.5 million spent in 2009. In the same period, OPW spent €40.3 million under the Drainage Maintenance and Hydrometric Programmes.

Overall, this shows expenditure for flood-related activities in these two years being over €100 million, which is a considerable investment, and is an increase of 33% over the previous two years. The Department of Finance was also successful in obtaining €13 million from the EU Solidarity Fund in respect of last November's serious flooding, which affected various parts of the country. However, the Solidarity Fund does not provide funding for flood relief works, but instead provides for emergency operations to allow a rapid return to normal living conditions. The funding involved would have related to damage to roads, the provision of emergency accommodation, and costs incurred by the rescue services. The allocation of the monies is a matter for the Department of Finance, rather than the Office of Public Works.

Tax Yield

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the total revenue accruing to the Exchequer through the various forms of motor vehicle registration, taxation, excise on an annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42042/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners the revenue accruing to the Exchequer through various motor taxes i.e. excise and carbon tax on petrol and auto-diesel, vehicle registration tax and VAT, from 2005 to date, is shown in the following table. As VAT receipts are not disaggregated by sector, the figures shown for VAT are estimated. The figures provided do not include Motor Tax, which is a matter for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009 Prov

2010 (Jan to Oct) Prov

Mineral Oil Tax

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Petrol

1,001.9

1,026.4

1,051.3

1,046.8

1,075.1

868.1

Auto Diesel

920.5

1,016.7

1,076.3

1,051.9

1,060.6

911.0

Total

1,922.4

2,043.1

2,127.6

2,098.7

2,135.6

1,779.1

VRT

1,148.8

1,287.4

1,406.1

1,120.8

375.3

361.7

VAT (estimate)

1,038

1,162

1,272

1,185

803

not available

Carbon Tax on petrol and auto-diesel

153m

Financial Services Sector

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if Irish investors are investing offshore to any greater extent than normal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42043/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland is a very open economy and as such there are no major impediments to Irish corporates or individuals investing across the European Union or to other jurisdictions subject to anti-money laundering regulations. With regard to the Deputy's specific question, it is my understanding that my Department have sought clarification on the question and are awaiting a reply. When the issue has been clarified my Department will answer the question as promptly and as accurately as possible.

National Asset Management Agency

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which his original projections in respect of the value and liability of assets taken by the National Assets Management Agency; the implications for the Exchequer of any changes with particular reference to property value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42044/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if the eventual value of the National Assets Management Agency properties is likely to be better or worse than originally estimated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42045/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 164 together.

It was originally envisaged that NAMA would transfer loans with a nominal value of almost €81 billion from the five participating credit institutions. This was subsequently reduced by the introduction of a threshold excluding loans below €20 million at AIB and Bank of Ireland. As a consequence, and in conjunction with a number of other adjustments, some €73 billion in loan assets will now transfer to the agency and this is to happen by the end of the year. NAMA estimates that it will pay consideration of about €31 billion for these loans; the final figure will be determined after completion of full due diligence on the loans.

It is important to realise that the assets transferred to NAMA are the actual loans. The underlying property serves as security for the loan but it is not the property which initially transfers to NAMA. A debtor whose loans are transferred to NAMA continues to be liable for the full loan balance. I am informed by NAMA that it expects that the property underlying the loans it acquires will be worth about half of the amount advanced by banks. That is the most that NAMA could notionally recover today if it foreclosed on all debtors.

As stated in the business plan which it produced on 30 June 2010, the transfer price which NAMA pays for assets will be no greater than the long-term economic value of the bank asset and the underlying property and other collateral is valued by professional valuers. NAMA projected in that plan a net present value gain of €1 billion over its expected lifespan with two variations to this central case: one in which it recovers the long-term economic value plus 10% leading to a net present value gain of €3.9 billion and one in which it recovers the long-term economic value minus 10% resulting in a net present value loss of €0.8 billion.

Flood Relief

Joe Carey

Ceist:

165 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42051/10]

Tenders have been sought for Phase Two works of the Ennis Flood Relief Scheme, and should be returned to the Office of Public Works by late November. Following tender assessment, it is expected to have the contractor on-site early in 2011.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

166 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the funding allocated by the Office of Public Works for flood prevention projects in County Clare in the past three years; the schemes and locations covered by the funding; the present position of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42052/10]

Under the Minor Flood Works scheme that was introduced by the Office of Public Works last year, a total of €643,800 has been allocated to date to Clare County Council in 2010 for works at Ennis (Gort Road and Elm Park/Watery Road), Ballycorick embankment, Rathangan, Ruan and Cloonbony. Funding was allocated on the basis of an assessment of the applications submitted by the Council in respect of the eligibility criteria of the scheme. The commencement and progression of the works in each case is a matter for the Council.

Funding was also made available for a major Flood Protection Scheme in Ennis, Co Clare, Phase One of which is now complete at a construction cost of €5,681,807 ex VAT. Phase Two is currently out to tender, with submissions expected at the end of November, 2011. OPW have also agreed in principle to provide funding to Clare County Council, so that they may carry out mitigation works for the areas of Ballybeg and St. Flannan's, in addition to maintenance works to Embankments.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

167 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the progress to date on flood mitigation works (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42074/10]

Funding of €220,860 was allocated to Leitrim County Council in August 2010, under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme to undertake works at Leitrim Road and Park Lane in Carrick-on-Shannon. The planned works involve the upgrading, cleaning and deepening of culverts & drains at Leitrim Road and Park Lane, as well as the provision of a deepened culvert west of Park Lane. The commencement and progression of the works is a matter for the Council.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

168 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42086/10]

The following table sets out the number of persons (six) in my Department who have availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer.

Grades

Pay Savings 2010

Pay Savings 2011

Pay Savings 2012

HEO

37,995

37,995

20,840

CO

21,685

21,685

13,880

CO

21,577

21,577

7,006

CO

16,655

16,655

16,655

AO

32,328

32,328

32,328

AP

71,260

71,260

68,050

Social Welfare Appeals

Jack Wall

Ceist:

169 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 433 of 27 October 2010, an appeal was submitted in respect of the person concerned and to date no reply has been received; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42049/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

170 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children when a report (details supplied) will be made available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41756/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Tobacco Products

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

171 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a consumer awareness campaign to inform the public of the consequences of buying illicit and smuggled cigarettes; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that more that one in every four cigarettes consumed in Ireland last year was smuggled and, therefore, circumvented the tobacco control measures of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41787/10]

The Revenue Commissioners are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax and for tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products. In relation to cigarette smuggling, a survey carried out independently on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners and the Office of Tobacco Control in 2009, estimated that approximately 20% of cigarettes consumed in the State had not been taxed in this jurisdiction. It is important to emphasise that this estimate includes both illicit cigarettes and legal cross-border purchases brought into the State for personal consumption. The Revenue Commissioners would further tentatively estimate that this figure of 20% comprises 14% illicit product and 6% legal cross-border purchases.

The development and roll-out of social marketing campaigns to raise awareness on health and lifestyle behaviours is a matter for the Health Service Executive. Therefore, this matter has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Service Investigations

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

172 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is considering the Tallaght hospital review report published by the Health Service Executive; if she will ensure that all recommendations are effectively implemented and take whatever further action is required to guarantee that public confidence in Tallaght hospital is fully restored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41788/10]

I have met with Dr. Hayes on 8th November and with the Chair of Tallaght Hospital on 9th November 2010 to discuss the implications of the report with them. I will meet shortly with the CEO and Chair of the HSE to establish how the recommendations of the report can be implemented as soon as possible. The main focus will be on what initiatives are needed both in the hospital and in the wider health system to provide sustained improvements in the services for patients.

I have expressed my serious concern about the management and governance issues in the hospital and about how some patients were managed. I note that, with the exception of two cases of delayed diagnosis before the review was established, the Report states that there are no unresolved issues involving the care or treatment of patients who were involved in the backlogs of X-rays or GP referral letters. I am aware that a small number of orthopaedic patients remain to be assessed and understand that the hospital will finalise these examinations as a matter of priority. I have also requested the HSE to examine the recommendations of the Hayes Report in detail and have called on the HSE and the hospital management to implement them as a matter of priority.

Medical Cards

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

173 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41819/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

John Perry

Ceist:

174 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a person’s (details supplied) nursing home contribution will be reduced in light of the fact that it is being calculated based on the way the Health Service Executive view ownership of land previously owned by the person's spouse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41825/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

175 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite the issuing of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41831/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

176 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children the present situation as it pertains to a home (details supplied); her plans for this home in the coming years; if her attention has been drawn to the real dangers which will be involved in any decision to close it down; her advice to those persons using the facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41848/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Ceist:

177 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) has been refused a medical card given that the person's circumstances have not changed since their previous renewal application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41998/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Records

John McGuinness

Ceist:

178 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if the medical files for a person (details supplied) will be made available for the period 1965 to 1966 during which the person was a patient in Portlaoise general hospital and if the request will be expedited. [42001/10]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Funding

Joe Carey

Ceist:

179 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for funding for an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42017/10]

My Department has no record of an application from the Group referred to by the Deputy. If the organisation wishes to make an application for National Lottery Funding they should send in a formal application. Detailed procedures, along with the application form are set out on my Department's website www.dohc.ie.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

180 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 110 of 7 October 2010 the position regarding an application for national lottery funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42020/10]

My Department has received an application for funding from the 2010 national lottery allocation from the organisation in question. This is one of a large number currently being assessed by my Department. The Deputy will be informed of the outcome of the application as soon as a decision has been made.

Parliamentary Questions

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

181 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 57 of 5 October 2010 when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [42064/10]

I understand, from the Health Service Executive, that a reply is expected to issue shortly.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

182 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 155 of 5 October 2010 when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [42065/10]

I understand from the HSE that a reply issued to the Deputy on 5th November, 2010.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

183 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 164 of 5 October 2010 when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [42066/10]

I understand from the HSE that a reply issued to the Deputy on 5th November, 2010.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

184 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 184 of 5 October 2010 when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [42067/10]

My Department has again requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive to arrange for a reply to issue to the Deputy on this matter.

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

185 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [42075/10]

I understand that the HSE has written to the Deputy on 4 November 2010 in response to a previous parliamentary question from him in relation to this person. The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) was established to arrange treatment for patients who have been waiting longest on surgical, in-patient waiting lists. Subject to the resources available to it, the NTPF may arrange treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

186 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons in her Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42088/10]

The Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme was announced on the 30th April 2009 and was available for civil servants during 2009 only. To avail of this scheme, a career break of special leave without pay had to be taken for three years. The scheme provides for the payment of one third of gross pay to a maximum of €12,500 per annum to successful applicants. These amounts are reduced pro rata for any person on reduced working hours under worksharing arrangements and the amount payable is subject to tax and other statutory deductions. 13 individuals are availing of the incentivised career break scheme in my Department and the net savings are estimated to be approximately €1.1m.

Missing Persons

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

187 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of unaccompanied minors claiming asylum who have been reported missing since 1 January 2008 and of these, the number that have been located by the gardaí; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35528/10]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Air Services

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

188 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport if he will list all levies and charges that the State imposes on air travel; the amount of revenue collected by each of these charges in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41764/10]

There are no levies or charges imposed by the State on air travel apart from the air travel tax, which is the subject of the Deputy's related question to the Minister for Finance (Question No 525). Airport charges are set by the airport authority at each airport. In the case of Dublin Airport, these charges are regulated by the Commission for Aviation Regulation who sets the maximum level of charges that can be applied.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

189 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the total cost of subsidising internal flights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41766/10]

The current Public Service Obligation (PSO) contracts for services linking Dublin Airport with the regional airports at Derry, Donegal, Sligo, Ireland West Airport Knock, Galway and Kerry Airports commenced on 22 July 2008 and are due to expire on 20 July 2011 at a cost of €44,841,567 for the three year contract period.

Preclearance Agreement

Joe Carey

Ceist:

190 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the development of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41847/10]

The position with cargo preclearance is that the Ireland-U.S. Preclearance Agreement signed in November 2008, does not provide for the preclearance of cargo. However, as I have previously informed the Deputy, when passenger preclearance, which is already fully established at Shannon Airport, becomes operational at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport I will consider the possibility of approaching the U.S. Authorities about cargo preclearance.

Penalty Points System

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

191 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if the Road Traffic Act 2010 is being implemented in terms of the requirement of drivers who have been charged with penalty points offences to present their licences to the courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41860/10]

The Road Traffic Act 2002, as amended, currently provides that a person who is alleged to have committed an offence under the Road Traffic Acts must produce their driving licence to the Court. The 2002 Act also provides that the Court shall record whether or not the licence has been produced. Issues relating to the application of these provisions were identified during the very extensive discussions that preceded the drafting of the Road Traffic Act 2010. Consequently, Section 63 of the 2010 Act establishes a requirement to produce both a driver licence and a copy of the licence to the Court. This will further assist administrative procedures in the Courts and the application of any penalty points to the appropriate driver licence record.

The provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2010 will come into force through the making of a series of Commencement Orders. One such Order (S.I. No. 394 of 2010) has been made to date. The remaining sections, including section 63, of the legislation will come into force when the necessary and relevant operational and administrative supports are in place. It is anticipated that section 63 will be commenced in the near future.

State Airports

Joe Carey

Ceist:

192 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 354 of the 23 March 2010, the position regarding discussions between his Department, the DAA and a group (details supplied) on the development of a major international cargo hub at Shannon Airport; when a decision will issue from him on this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42002/10]

I understand that the Dublin Airport Authority is in active discussions with the Lynx group regarding this proposal and that meetings are taking place on an ongoing basis.

Harbours and Piers

Joe Carey

Ceist:

193 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding funding for a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42053/10]

The Office of Public Works and the Irish Coast Guard staff are currently engaged on the pre-tender stage of the project at Doolin pier. Funding for the project will be considered in the context of my Department's 2011 Estimates process.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

194 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the capital budget allocated to his Department in 2010; the amount of the allocated funding that has been spent; the projects that have been allocated capital funding by his Department in 2010; the amount of allocated moneys spent in the case of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42072/10]

My Department's capital allocation for 2010 is €2,081,397,000. To date €1,306,191,287 of the total allocation has been spent.

Allocation and expenditure is broken down between the various subheads as follows:

Allocation for 2010

Expenditure to 9/11/2010

A5 Office Machinery

635,000

254,562

B1 Road Improvement/Maintenance

— National Roads

1,114,000,000

719,680,654

— Regional and Local Roads

300,000,000

197,680,858

B3 Road Safety Agencies

1,000,000

250,000

B4 Vehicle and Driver Licensing Expenses

1,500,000

302,812

B5 Smarter Travel/Carbon Reduction Measures

23,000,000

2,304,206

C2 Public Transport Investment Programme

614,988,000

382,874,734

D2 Regional Airports

3,000,000

324,112

E1 Maritime Safety and Irish Coast Guard

13,000,000

2,424,200

F3 Cross Border Initiatives

10,274,000

95,145

In line with previous expenditure patterns it is expected that significant drawdown will occur in the remaining weeks. Indications from the agencies involved are that all allocations will be fully drawn down by year-end.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

195 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42093/10]

In my Department, 13 officers availed of the Incentivised Career Break Scheme. The approximate net savings to the exchequer amounted to €159,759 for 2009 and €264,628 for 2010 to date.

Garda Recruitment

Michael Ring

Ceist:

196 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a person who has completed the aptitude test for the Garda Síochána in 2008 can expect to be called for a medical. [41770/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that all applicants for Garda trainees selected by the Public Appointments Service undergo a Physical Competency Test, a Medical Examination and also Character Vetting prior to appointment. However, the general moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the Public Service continues to apply to An Garda Síochána.

Garda Investigations

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

197 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to allegations of dereliction of duty by a number of the gardaí at a location (details supplied); if he is satisfied that the matter has been properly and fairly investigated; his views on whether it is acceptable that a conscientious garda can be scapegoated merely for seeking to provide an honest service to the public; if he will outline the position regarding the investigation at this Garda station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41775/10]

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

198 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to claims that a conscientious garda has been scapegoated at a location (details provided); his views on whether the issues surrounding this case have been adequately and fairly investigated; the up-to-date position regarding this investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41776/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

The matters referred to by the Deputy remain under Garda investigation and it would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Custodial Treatment

Jack Wall

Ceist:

199 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the time limit as determined in legislation regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41792/10]

The Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations 1987 as amended, prescribe the standards for the treatment of persons detained in Garda custody.

Those regulations provide that the member in charge of a Garda Station shall, without delay, inform an arrested person (or cause him/her to be informed) that he/she is entitled to consult a solicitor and in the case of a person not below the age of eighteen years, that he/she is entitled to have notification of his/her being in custody in the Garda station concerned sent to another person reasonably named by him/her. In the case of a person under the age of eighteen, he/she is entitled to have information relating to his/her being in custody given to a parent or guardian (or spouse if married) and to have them asked to attend the Garda station without delay.

This information will be given orally and also by way of written notice. The time of the giving of the oral information and the written notice are recorded in the custody record and acknowledged by the arrested person. If he/she refuses to sign, that refusal shall also be recorded.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

200 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the legislated position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41794/10]

The Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations 1987 as amended, prescribe the standards for the treatment of persons detained in Garda custody.

The regulations provide inter alia that if a person in custody appears to the member in charge to need medical attention, then he or she shall summon a doctor or cause one to be summoned unless the person’s condition appears to the member in charge to be such as to necessitate immediate removal to a hospital. The member in charge shall ensure that any instructions given by a doctor in relation to medical care are complied with.

Medical advice shall also be sought if the person in custody claims to need medication relating to a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy or other potentially serious condition or if the member in charge considers it necessary because the person has in his or her possession any such medication.

Crime Levels

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

201 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons who have been arrested for begging in Dublin in 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41809/10]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

In a judgement on 4 December, 2007 the High Court held section 3 of the Vagrancy (Ireland) Act 1847, under which prosecutions for begging were brought, to be unconstitutional. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010, currently before the House, provides for measures to control anti-social behaviour associated with begging.

Illegal Fireworks

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

202 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of illegal fireworks seized over the Hallowe’en period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41814/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that up to 2 November, 2010, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 164 seizures of fireworks with an estimated value of €59,316. These statistics are operational and liable to change.

I am further informed that during the Halloween period appropriate policing measures were put in place in every Garda Division and District as Operation Tombola. Operational orders were prepared in every Garda Region, in particular in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and Border Divisions, to prevent and, where necessary, detect the organised importation for sale of fireworks. Persons suspected of engaging in the importation, supply or sale of fireworks were identified and targeted, including by way of intelligence-led operations.

Garda Equipment

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

203 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of roadside breathalysers that are necessary for the Garda Síochána to enforce compulsory testing at the scene of every road collision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41815/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

204 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of roadside breathalysers that have been added by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety to the total stock of roadside breathalysers held by the Garda Síochána each month in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41857/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 203 and 204 together.

I am informed that the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which is under the aegis of the Department of Transport, has statutory responsibility for the testing, approval and supply of roadside breath screening devices to An Garda Síochána.

I am also informed that Garda management is satisfied that there are sufficient devices available to meet current operational needs. Such devices are available to members of An Garda Síochána in all Garda Divisions and are carried in Garda vehicles as appropriate.

The requirements for such devices are kept under constant review by senior Garda management in conjunction with the Medical Bureau of Road Safety. Additional equipment will be acquired if necessary when the relevant provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2010 are commenced.

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy regarding the number by month of screening devices acquired. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is available.

Garda Training

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

205 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 28 October 2010 if he will indicate the length of the detailed training programme for the Garda Síochána in the use of the instruments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41859/10]

The reply to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 28 October, 2010 makes no reference to training.

If the Deputy clarifies the reference, I will pursue the matter.

Penalty Points System

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

206 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if the Road Traffic Act 2010 is being implemented in terms of the requirement of drivers who have been charged with penalty points offences to present their licence to the court; if so, the number of drivers so far this year who have failed to present their licence to the court as mandated under the Road Traffic Act 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41861/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

207 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of drivers who have been disqualified from driving by the court who have not handed in their driving licence so far in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41862/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 together.

Road traffic legislation is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport. I am informed that the section of the Road Traffic Act 2010 referred to by the Deputy has not yet been commenced by the Minister.

The number of drivers who have been disqualified from driving by the court and who have not handed in their licences is a matter for the courts. Under the Courts Service Act 1998, the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions which include, inter alia, the provision of statistical and other court related information.

Visa Applications

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

208 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of international students that are registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau and Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in tabular form; the percentage of these students that attend English language colleges, further education colleges and higher education colleges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41987/10]

There are some difficulties in precise classification as some institutions may offer courses of more than one type. However, based on an analysis by the immigration authorities of the computerised records, the table below provides the information sought by the Deputy as at 29 October 2010. It should be noted that international students who are required to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau are non-EEA students whose course of study exceeds 3 months. These represent a minority of those coming to Ireland to study. By far the largest cohort of international students comprises EEA nationals engaged in language courses. These are not included in the figures as such persons do not have to register with the immigration authorities.

Non-EEA Students registered in Ireland as at 29 October 2010 by education sector

English Language

Further Education

Higher Education

Other

Total

9,286

9,822

11,110

1,303

31,521

29%

31%

36%

4%

100%

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

209 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the grounds upon which an international student may be refused a student visa; under what criteria may a student be refused a visa on grounds that their need to undertake a course in this State is not demonstrated or warranted; his views that these grounds may be open to wide interpretation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41988/10]

At the outset, it should be borne in mind that each visa application is considered on its individual merits, with the onus resting with the applicant to satisfy the visa officer as to why the visa should be granted.

In assessing a visa application, a visa officer takes all relevant factors into consideration depending on the type of visa sought. Information regarding visa application requirements and reasons for refusal can be found on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie).

While the nature of individual study visa applications can vary widely, the following examples illustrate typical circumstances which could lead to a determination by a visa officer that the need to undertake the course in this State is neither demonstrated nor warranted:

an applicant has not outlined and/or satisfied the visa officer as to the reasons for undertaking the particular course of study identified in the visa application. There may not have been any clear link made by the applicant to a need to pursue a particular course — be it a change of career, work related studies or progression/advancement to the next stage of study e.g. diploma, degree or masters level.

an applicant has already obtained a higher level of qualification in a particular area than that which the course of study offers; for example, a case where an applicant holds a degree in nursing yet applies to study a FETAC level care-assistant course.

the course in question is readily available in the home country of the applicant and there is no reason for the applicant to travel to Ireland for the purpose of study.

an applicant is from a country where English is commonly spoken but seeks to study English in Ireland rather than in their home country.

A decision to refuse on the basis that the need to undertake a course in this State is not demonstrated or warranted is at the discretion of the visa officer and is a matter of judgement taking into account all the circumstances. However, I believe the availability of this ground for refusal is justified in circumstances such as those outlined in the examples above.

It is important that Study Visas are sought by and granted only to individuals whose primary purpose in coming to Ireland is to study. The Deputy may be aware of the generous facility regarding employment which is afforded to international students to assist with living expenses, i.e., 20 hours work permissible during term time and 40 hours permissible outside of term time. There is however an obligation on my Department to guard against persons seeking a Study Visa when in fact they are essentially economic migrants.

As with all visa regimes worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its individual merits and every effort is made to achieve this balance.

Garda Vetting

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

210 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason an organisation (details supplied) cannot get garda vetting in its own right but was told to pursue this through another organisation. [41990/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting to organisations in Ireland registered with the Gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to positions where they would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

The employment vetting service provided by the Gardaí has been expanded greatly in recent years as part of a phased programme to roll-out the service to an increasing number of organisations. Within this programme the vetting service has now been extended to over 18,000 organisations. The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over that period in the numbers of vetting applications it receives — 187,864 in 2007; 218,404 in 2008 and 246,194 in 2009.

Given the large number and wide range of client organisations, the registration process is managed through umbrella organisations which provide single points of contact. This ensures more effective co-ordination and quality control in the various sectors and a more efficient use of resources in the vetting process.

As part of the programme of expansion, Garda vetting has been extended to sporting organisations which are recognised by the Irish Sports Council, which is the statutory agency responsible for the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport in Ireland and which works in liaison with the GCVU in managing the roll-out of vetting to the sports sector. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the organisation to which the Deputy refers is not a member of the Irish Sports Council. The Garda authorities have advised the organisation of the need to register with the Irish Sports Council and have communicated to it the necessary information in this regard.

Courts Service

Noel Ahern

Ceist:

211 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on recent media reports regarding the courts support service offered to victims and families of victims of crime being severely reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42012/10]

Since its inception in 2005, the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime has provided €268,500 in grant assistance to the Court Support Services and it continues to provide grant assistance in 2010.

The Commission has devoted considerable time and energy over a number of years to addressing long-standing governance issues in the Court Support Services. Since June 2009, the Management Board of the service has been actively working to resolve these issues.

An independent report on the governance of the service made a number of recommendations, including in relation to unvouched expenses, which the Management Board is in the process of implementing.

A service continues to be available from the Court Support Services. I am assured that the Board of the Court Support Services is fully committed to providing the best possible service to victims of crime on a sustainable basis and that a full resumption of service will follow as soon as possible.

Ground Rent

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

212 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding ground rent legislation and the abolition of ground rents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42055/10]

Part III of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No. 2) Act 1978 contains a statutory scheme whereby any person may, at reasonable cost, acquire the fee simple in his or her dwelling house. The scheme is operated by the Property Registration Authority. Since it was introduced in 1978, over 80,000 applicants have availed of the scheme and have acquired a freehold title to their property.

A legal challenge to the constitutionality of the purchase price provisions of the ground rents legislation was heard in the High Court in 2005. The Court's judgment upholding the constitutionality of the legislation was delivered in early 2006 but was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard the appeal some months ago and has reserved its judgment.

Legislative Programme

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

213 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the Mental Capacity Bill will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42062/10]

The Government Legislation Programme indicates that the Mental Capacity Bill is expected to be published in this Session.

The Bill will reform the law on mental capacity taking into account the Law Reform Commission's Report on Vulnerable Adults and the Law. The Bill will replace the Wards of Court system with a modern statutory framework governing decision-making on behalf of adults who lack capacity.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

214 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the overtime bill for the State car services in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42069/10]

In the time available it has not been possible for the Garda authorities to supply the information requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

215 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42089/10]

There are 51 staff of my Department currently availing of the incentivised career break scheme. The estimated net savings expected to arise over the 3-year period of the scheme is c. €4 million.

Passport Applications

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

216 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a person from the United Kingdom whose father is from Northern Ireland and whose grandparents were both Irish is entitled to apply for an Irish passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41743/10]

A person whose father was born in Northern Ireland is entitled to apply for an Irish passport. In support of a passport application, the applicant should enclose their long form birth certificate and the long form birth certificate of the father. If the applicant is over eighteen years of age they should also provide some additional form of photo-identification, e.g. drivers licence; work ID; student card; social club membership; passport from other country etc., documentary evidence to show use of name; e.g. payslips; records of unemployment or disability payment; bank statement; college registration etc., and evidence of residency at the application address; e.g. utility bills; official correspondence from public or private sector organisations etc.

Foreign Conflicts

Joe Costello

Ceist:

217 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied). [42078/10]

I am aware of the case raised by the Deputy which was also notified to my Department by the Moroccan Embassy on 19 October. Mr. Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, a Moroccan Sahrawi, was detained on 21 September by the Polisario Front. Mr. Mouloud lived with his wife and family in the el-Ayoun camp, a Polisario-run Sahrawi refugee camp near Tindouf, Algeria. Mr. Mouloud is understood to have held a news conference in Smara, in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, on 9 August during which he advocated Morocco's autonomy initiative. On return to Polisario territory, he was arrested. Mr. Mouloud has now apparently been released but remains confined to the remote outpost of Mehriz, where the only telephone coverage is with satellite telephones. The Polisario have facilitated telephone contact with the UNHCR but have not allowed him to communicate with his family. UNHCR are apparently trying to organise Mr. Mouloud's safe passage to a country of his choice. I urge the Polisario to ensure that Mr. Mouloud's rights are respected, particularly his right to freedom of expression, and to allow Mr. Mouloud to contact his family.

Mr. Mouloud's case, and the regrettable violence causing the deaths of a number of people and injuries to dozens more resulting from attempts by Moroccan security forces to break up a peaceful protest camp on the outskirts of Laayoune earlier this week, highlights the urgent need for progress in resolving the ongoing and long-standing dispute regarding Western Sahara. Representatives of the Polisario Front, Morocco and Algeria, together with other interested states, are meeting in New York this week to discuss this issue. Ireland supports the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara as well as the continuing engagement of the United Nations in the search for a political solution in the territory based on the principle of self-determination.

I strongly support the continuing efforts of UN Secretary General Ban's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, to bring about substantive negotiations on the future of the Western Sahara. Mr. Ross has recently completed a tour of the region in an effort to resolve some of the issues preventing constructive engagement between Morocco and the Polisario. He is hosting the further round of informal discussions this week. Previous rounds of informal talks were held in New York and Austria, most recently in February this year. It is my hope that the two sides use this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue and do not allow themselves to be deterred by the recent worsening of relations. It is unfortunately clear that in the previous rounds of talks there has been no real engagement between the two sides on the substantive issues.

The critical blockage remains Morocco's refusal to allow a referendum in the territory which would include an option of independence for the people of the Western Sahara. This has been provided for in a number of UN peace plans, and it is difficult to see that there can be any genuine self-determination without such a referendum. Ireland will continue its dialogue with both Morocco and the Polisario, through their representatives based here in Ireland, to encourage support for the UN Secretary General's good offices mission and the efforts of Personal Envoy Ross to achieve some measure of political progress and increased confidence between both sides.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

218 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42087/10]

Twenty two staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs availed of the incentivised career break scheme. The net savings on salary are set out in the table. The Deputy will be aware that the scheme is due to terminate in 2012.

Year

Amount

2009

221,229

2010

648,283

2011 (estimated)

648,283

2012 (estimated)

486,212

Total

2,004,007

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Creed

Ceist:

219 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason his Department are proposing to withdraw an invalidity pension from a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [41744/10]

Payment of invalidity pension, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. An appeal was opened and in the context of that appeal, her case was reviewed by a second Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in the light of this second medical opinion, that office decided to afford her an opportunity of setting out the complete and up to date grounds of her appeal. The person concerned has submitted additional medical evidence which has been forwarded to the Chief Medical Advisor for his opinion.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

James Reilly

Ceist:

220 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Social Protection the length of time a person (details supplied) must wait for their appeal for carer’s allowance to be processed. [41750/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

3 additional Appeals Officers were assigned to the Office in 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

In addition, it was decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short term basis to supplement the current resources and the services of eight retired officers have now been secured on a part-time basis and have been operating since July.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

221 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved the fuel allowance [41781/10]

The person concerned was awarded an increase in respect of fuel allowance and arrears due issued to her on 4 November 2010.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Ring

Ceist:

222 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the outcome of a child benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [41817/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

223 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a disability payment appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan. [41823/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 June 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 16 September 2010 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Departmental Estimates

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

224 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41837/10]

Details of Estimate Provision and outturn in respect of Vote 38 Department of Social Protection and the Social Insurance Fund for 2002 to 2009 and up to 30 September, 2010 are set out in the tables. Social Insurance Fund outturn figures provided for 2009 and 2010 and Vote 38 outturn figures for 2010 are provisional and subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

To end September 2010 — Vote 38 (Social Protection)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision for 2010

Outturn (to end Sept. 2010)

€000

€000

A.1 – A.10.

Administration

384,173

269,099

B.

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

946,740

719,168

C.

Blind Pension

15,686

11,725

D.

Child Benefit

2,260,990

1,648,438

E.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

2,759,911

2,060,586

F.

Farm Assist scheme

96,280

81,826

G.

Employment Support Services

229,330

174,919

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

75,440

59,948

I.

One-parent Family Payment

1,119,932

829,319

J.

Widows’/Widowers’ Pension and Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)

22,460

17,570

K.

Deserted Wives without Dependent Children

5,070

3,797

L.

Family Income Supplement

215,040

137,721

M.

Carer’s Allowance

541,460

372,952

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

1,026,439

767,196

O.

Disability Allowance

1,100,970

824,707

P.

Respite Care Grant

153,000

126,372

Q.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

408,536

257,399

R.

School Meals Schemes

35,000

25,793

S.

Grant to Family Support Agency

9,909

16,593

T.

Grant to the Citizens Information Board

45,872

34,455

U.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

99,264

71,299

V.

1Rural Social Scheme

15,955

W.

1Community Services Programme

9,123

X.

Miscellaneous services

4,539

4,120

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Combat Poverty Agency

69

Y.

Payment to the Social Insurance Fund under Section 9(9) (a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005

1,551,448

1,380,000

Gross Total:

13,122,364

9,895,071

Z.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

212,399

163,756

Net Total:

12,909,965

9,731,315

1Responsibility for the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) and the Community Services Programme (CSP) transferred from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs on 1 September 2010. Payments to Pobal from the Department of Social Protection commenced in October 2010 with €3,364,371 paid in respect of the RSS and €4,000,000 paid in respect of the CSP. Up to end September 2010 payments to Pobal were made by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs — €38.3 million was paid in respect of the RSS and €40.15 million in respect of the CSP.

2009 — Vote 38 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 — A.10.

Administration

387,674

374,523

B.

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

981,715

1,000,546

C.

Blind Pension

16,548

16,277

D.

Child Benefit

2,500,140

2,495,304

E.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

2,190,230

2,004,556

F.

Farm Assist scheme

87,672

93,297

G.

Employment Support Services

180,394

193,888

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

105,757

96,606

I.

One-parent Family Payment

1,101,341

1,121,344

J.

Widows’/Widowers’ Pension and Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)

24,490

27,299

K.

Social Assistance / Deserted Wives without Dependent Children

6,130

6,044

L.

Family Income Supplement

211,630

167,133

M.

Carer’s Allowance

483,261

502,469

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

1,114,562

1,031,950

O.

Disability Allowance

1,090,960

1,142,769

P.

Respite Care Grant

112,200

99,200

Q.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

368,289

353,166

R.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

17,934

17,041

S.

Grant to Family Support Agency

35,707

34,660

T.1.

Combat Poverty Agency

4,088

1,564

T.2.

EU Community Action Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) 2007-2013

90

21

U.

Grant to Citizens Information Board

28,112

28,005

V.

Dormant Accounts — economic and social disadvantage

1,000

642

W.

Domiciliary Care allowance

41,000

31,017

X.

Miscellaneous services

39,168

38,231

Gross Total:

11,130,092

10,877,552

Y.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

213,083

219,040

Net Total:

10,917,009

10,658,512

2008 — Vote 38 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.11.

Administration

363,930

362,109

B.

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

970,010

972,765

C.

Blind Pension

15,880

16,319

D.

Child Benefit

2,469,200

2,453,957

E.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

1,202,800

1,158,851

F.

Farm Assist scheme

91,280

84,881

G.

Employment Support Services

167,562

160,531

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

114,660

117,666

I.

One-parent Family Payment

1,065,150

1,067,158

J.

Widows’/Widowers’ Pension and Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)

28,650

28,328

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

6,810

6,631

L.

Family Income Supplement

177,341

170,309

M.

Carer’s Allowance

472,300

450,260

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

882,531

866,941

O.

Disability Allowance

1,045,790

1,052,660

P.

Respite Care Grant

101,800

98,204

Q.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

325,966

324,110

R.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

17,950

16,217

S.

Grant to Family Support Agency

36,180

35,981

T.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

4,313

4,114

T.2.

EU Community Action Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) 2007-2013

123

U.

Grant to Citizens Information Board

29,268

29,468

V.

Dormant Accounts — economic and social disadvantage

1,000

W.

Miscellaneous services

41,253

40,631

Gross Total:

9,631,747

9,518,091

X.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

184,530

190,051

Net Total:

9,447,217

9,328,040

2007 — Vote 38 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.11.

Administration

378,699

347,133

B.

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

917,680

920,167

C.

Blind Pension

14,650

15,031

D.

Child Benefit

2,258,900

2,232,974

E.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

909,170

875,092

F.

Farm Assist scheme

81,330

78,686

G.

Employment Support Services

151,402

145,024

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

127,950

124,490

I.

One-parent Family Payment

939,950

962,425

J.

Widows’/Widowers’ Pension and Guardian’s Payment (Non-Contributory)

23,080

24,287

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

7,080

6,912

L.

Family Income Supplement

152,450

140,020

M.

Carer’s Allowance

342,410

361,257

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

763,031

739,820

O.

Disability Allowance

892,640

901,131

P.

Respite Care Grant

66,600

72,471

Q.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

287,845

285,750

R.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

17,674

14,578

S.

Grant to Family Support Agency

35,339

35,339

T.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

4,384

4,008

T.2.

EU Community Action Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity (PROGRESS) 2007-2013

123

42

U.

Grant to Comhairle

28,422

27,860

V.

Dormant Accounts — economic and social disadvantage

1,000

W.

Miscellaneous services

22,835

36,500

Gross Total:

8,424,644

8,350,997

X.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

179,509

169,723

Net Total:

8,245,135

8,181,274

2006 — Vote 38 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.11.

Administration

348,910

321,552

B.

Old Age Pension (Non-Contributory)

729,700

727,782

C.

Blind Pension

16,900

16,964

D.

Child Benefit

2,044,200

2,056,295

E.

Unemployment Assistance

742,000

768,560

F.

Farm Assist scheme

73,200

71,085

G.

Employment Support Services

120,632

115,552

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

114,700

113,063

I.

One-parent Family Payment

847,200

834,262

J.

Widows’, Widowers’ and Orphans’ (Non-Contributory) Pensions

112,500

108,520

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

10,800

10,560

L.

Family Income Supplement

94,500

107,137

M.

Carer’s Allowance

281,300

284,584

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

733,601

686,364

O.

Disability Allowance

737,200

738,431

P.

Respite Care Grant

45,600

50,458

Q.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

236,472

237,838

R.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

16,416

13,575

S.

Family Support Agency

28,025

26,506

T.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

4,521

3,689

T.2.

EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002-2006

123

30

U.

Grant to Comhairle

24,362

24,362

V.

Dormant Accounts — economic and social disadvantage

1,000

W.

Miscellaneous services

21,193

21,728

Gross Total:

7,385,055

7,338,897

X.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

169,809

161,717

Net Total:

7,215,246

7,177,180

2005 — Vote 38 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.10.

Administration

306,195

294,089

B.

Old Age Pension (Non-Contributory)

627,900

631,299

C.

Blind Pension

16,900

16,661

D.

Child Benefit

1,915,700

1,899,936

E.

Unemployment Assistance

690,000

667,483

F.

Farm Assist scheme

63,600

67,284

G.

Employment Support Services

107,543

106,613

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

105,800

102,879

I.

One-parent Family Payment

769,700

751,102

J.

Widows’, Widowers’ and Orphans’ (Non-Contributory) Pensions

132,600

131,040

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

11,500

11,482

L.

Family Income Supplement

73,800

72,152

M.

Carer’s Allowance

212,200

223,059

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

702,400

671,308

O.

Disability Allowance

636,200

630,728

P.

Respite Care Grant

36,000

34,301

Q.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

204,092

201,377

R.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

13,620

13,593

S.

Family Support Agency

24,466

22,869

T.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

4,236

4,236

T.2.

EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002-2006

123

64

U.

Grant to Comhairle

20,917

20,917

V.

Miscellaneous services

15,033

15,975

Gross Total:

6,690,525

6,590,447

W.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

156,573

149,324

Net Total:

6,533,952

6,441,123

2004 — Vote 38 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.10.

Administration

280,364

277,016

B.

Old Age Pension (Non-Contributory)

582,700

599,988

C.

Blind Pension

15,600

15,868

D.

Child Benefit

1,763,700

1,765,117

E.

Unemployment Assistance

657,400

613,817

F.

Farm Assist scheme

69,700

66,343

G.

Employment Support Services

117,523

115,956

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

93,700

94,726

I.

One-parent Family Payment

707,800

694,835

J.

Widows’, Widowers’ and Orphans’ (Non-Contributory) Pensions

131,400

128,522

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

10,900

10,981

L.

Family Income Supplement

56,000

55,812

M.

Carer’s Allowance

203,820

210,277

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

654,832

646,550

O.

Disability Allowance

526,100

544,489

P.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

195,470

192,559

Q.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

11,401

11,397

R.

Family Support Agency

20,185

19,610

S.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

3,909

3,909

S.2.

EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002-2006

123

22

T.

Grant to Comhairle

17,826

17,826

U.

Miscellaneous services

15,725

12,253

W.

Losses

78

Gross Total:

6,136,178

6,097,951

V.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

136,810

138,751

Net Total:

5,999,368

5,959,200

2003 — Vote 40 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.11.

Administration

261,548

256,872

B.

Old Age Pension (Non-Contributory)

566,500

565,006

C.

Blind Pension

14,900

14,816

D.

Child Benefit

1,665,900

1,666,530

E.

Unemployment Assistance

572,200

565,952

F.

Farm Assist scheme

63,460

62,806

G.

Employment Support Services

139,820

139,407

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

89,700

89,077

I.

One-parent Family Payment

666,500

660,586

J.

Widows’, Widowers’ and Orphans’ (Non-Contributory) Pensions

127,490

122,639

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

10,550

10,618

L.

Family Income Supplement

44,600

45,360

M.

Carer’s Allowance

182,620

183,273

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

634,780

631,238

O.

Disability Allowance

458,670

463,608

P.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

183,480

182,278

Q.

Money Advice & Budgeting Service

9,867

9,405

R.1.

Family Support Agency

15,330

13,141

R.2.

Grants for Marriage and Family Counselling Services

450

417

R.3.

Grant for Family Resource Centres

1,220

2,425

S.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

5,304

5,304

S.2.

EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002-2006

250

43

T.1.

Grant to Comhairle

16,061

16,061

T.2.

Grant to Comhairle- Information Society — Electronic Government — Oasis Project

950

950

U.

Miscellaneous services

11,779

9,421

Gross Total:

5,743,929

5,717,233

V.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

131,040

133,649

Net Total:

5,612,889

5,583,584

2002 — Vote 40 (Social and Family Affairs)

Subhead

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

A.1 – A.10.

Administration

260,260

259,693

B.

Old Age Pension (Non-Contributory)

540,200

537,308

C.

Blind Pension

14,400

14,221

D.

Child Benefit

1,443,900

1,462,793

E.

Unemployment Assistance

542,400

511,985

F.

Farm Assist scheme

59,900

58,571

G.

Employment Support Services

198,066

168,134

H.

Pre-retirement Allowance

91,500

87,028

I.

One-parent Family Payment

612,300

613,035

J.

Widows’, Widowers’ and Orphans’ (Non-Contributory) Pensions

126,800

120,988

K.

Social Assistance and Other Allowances

10,100

10,250

L.

Family Income Supplement

52,500

42,423

M.

Carer’s Allowance

173,000

160,042

N.

Supplementary Welfare Allowances

472,800

526,877

O.

Disability Allowance

398,200

407,585

P.

Free Schemes (Assistance)

168,201

160,774

Q.

Miscellaneous services

6,243

5,082

R.1.

Family Support Agency

4,000

R.2.

Grants for Marriage and Family Counselling Services

6,659

6,717

S.1.

Grant to the Combat Poverty Agency (Grant-in-aid)

4,771

4,771

S.2.

The Programme for Peace and Reconciliation

919

919

S.3.

EU Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion 2002-2006

350

T.1.

Grant to Comhairle

14,513

14,386

T.2.

Grant to Comhairle — Information Society — Electronic Government — Oasis Project

952

952

U.

Grants for Community and Voluntary Service (Mainly National Lottery Funded)

23,455

24,900

Gross Total:

5,226,389

5,199,434

V.

Appropriations-in-aid (Deduct)

127,823

128,513

Net Total:

5,098,566

5,070,921

To end September 2010 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision for 2010

Outturn (to end Sept. 2010)

€000

€000

State Pension (Contributory)

3,430,910

2,507,001

State Pension (Transition)

111,100

79,325

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension

1,320,260

977,883

Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

10,500

8,381

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

93,790

70,250

Maternity Benefit

351,890

235,642

Health and Safety Benefit

650

426

Adoptive Benefit

1,300

634

Illness Benefit

884,420

695,192

Invalidity Pension

685,610

482,283

Carer’s Benefit

31,260

19,582

Occupational Injuries Benefits

109,750

78,513

Bereavement Grant

20,400

13,613

Widowed Parent Grant

4,800

3,172

Jobseeker’s Benefit

1,545,840

1,004,077

Treatment Benefit

34,000

31,906

Free Schemes

302,482

201,258

Redundancy & Insolvency

340,000

377,548

Administration

280,700

207,655

Total:

9,559,662

6,994,341

2009 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

State Pension (Contributory)

3,327,345

3,367,320

State Pension (Transition)

87,683

104,969

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

1,352,488

1,364,901

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

99,176

100,130

Maternity Benefit

355,060

331,289

Health and Safety Benefit

620

619

Adoptive Benefit

1,700

1,247

Illness Benefit

889,052

919,783

Invalidity Pension

691,518

681,642

Carer’s Benefit

40,851

30,204

Occupational Injuries Benefits

112,449

112,332

Bereavement Grant

17,000

18,504

Widowed Parent Grant

6,600

5,504

Jobseeker’s Benefit

2,422,670

1,733,816

Treatment Benefit

92,380

100,178

Free Schemes

310,733

279,039

Redundancy & Insolvency

234,000

350,398

Administration

280,905

281,423

Total:

10,322,230

9,783,298

2008 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

State Pension (Contributory)

3,018,900

3,117,855

State Pension (Transition)

83,550

92,089

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

1,292,070

1,313,412

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

102,580

104,618

Maternity Benefit

274,100

315,878

Health and Safety Benefit

560

576

Adoptive Benefit

1,440

1,644

Illness Benefit

833,280

852,305

Invalidity Pension

676,000

685,717

Carer’s Benefit

31,480

33,666

Occupational Injuries Benefits

110,890

112,011

Bereavement Grant

17,000

17,851

Widowed Parent Grant

6,600

5,543

Jobseeker’s Benefit

614,520

928,844

Treatment Benefit

94,900

97,124

Free Schemes

254,015

260,562

Redundancy & Insolvency

171,700

202,264

Administration

272,567

257,780

Total:

7,856,152

8,399,739

2007 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

State Pension (Contributory)

2,658,400

2,754,749

State Pension (Transition)

90,310

79,070

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

1,207,480

1,214,539

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

98,960

100,710

Maternity Benefit

244,560

257,896

Health and Safety Benefit

440

503

Adoptive Benefit

920

1,333

Illness Benefit

746,250

755,077

Invalidity Pension

610,920

618,133

Carer’s Benefit

20,800

26,900

Occupational Injuries Benefits

106,440

104,349

Bereavement Grant

18,600

16,673

Widowed Parent Grant

4,945

3,862

Jobseeker’s Benefit

509,310

544,931

Treatment Benefit

88,500

91,602

Free Schemes

257,594

249,774

Redundancy & Insolvency

156,500

188,178

Administration

249,655

242,711

Total:

7,070,584

7,250,990

2006 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

State Pension (Contributory)

1,570,700

1,580,896

State Pension (Transition)

903,300

857,627

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Guardian’s Payment (Contributory)

1,099,100

1,103,699

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

94,170

94,621

Maternity Benefit

175,000

180,801

Health and Safety Benefit

425

353

Adoptive Benefit

810

818

Illness Benefit

614,500

627,642

Invalidity Pension

588,200

602,414

Carer’s Benefit

11,800

16,688

Occupational Injuries Benefits

96,300

95,988

Bereavement Grant

13,600

12,686

Widowed Parent Grant

3,375

2,942

Jobseeker’s Benefit

457,900

455,073

Treatment Benefit

85,170

95,020

Free Schemes

208,060

206,590

Redundancy & Insolvency

150,500

170,012

Administration

234,428

221,684

Total:

6,307,338

6,325,554

2005 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

Old Age (Contributory) Pension

1,110,900

1,152,849

Retirement Pension

1,067,700

1,060,052

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Orphans (Contributory) Allowance

980,000

1,006,040

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

91,800

90,620

Maternity Benefit

137,100

132,412

Health and Safety Benefit

184

293

Adoptive Benefit

680

709

Disability Benefit

521,200

540,245

Invalidity Pension

534,900

548,285

Carer’s Benefit

8,000

9,588

Occupational Injuries Benefits

89,600

88,078

Bereavement Grant

13,500

13,572

Widowed Parent Grant

3,186

3,304

Unemployment Benefit

463,600

418,085

Treatment Benefit

80,300

65,497

Free Schemes

183,828

182,052

Equal Treatment

Redundancy & Insolvency

150,500

150,348

Administration

211,603

202,580

Total:

5,648,581

5,664,609

2004 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision(€000)

Outturn(€000)

Old Age (Contributory) Pension

1,007,960

1,050,348

Retirement Pension

985,560

983,706

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Orphans (Contributory) Allowance

917,600

916,108

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

89,350

89,749

Maternity Benefit

115,700

121,571

Health and Safety Benefit

224

143

Adoptive Benefit

620

609

Disability Benefit

466,700

479,611

Invalidity Pension

472,100

487,375

Carer’s Benefit

8,500

7,698

Occupational Injuries Benefits

83,550

82,657

Bereavement Grant

13,000

13,190

Widowed Parent Grant

3,186

3,068

Unemployment Benefit

504,330

455,586

Treatment Benefit

74,120

70,454

Free Schemes

170,400

171,713

Equal Treatment

1

Redundancy & Insolvency

154,800

147,643

Administration

194,730

191,313

Total:

5,262,430

5,272,543

2003 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

Old Age (Contributory) Pension

870,800

946,902

Retirement Pension

881,350

898,981

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Orphans (Contributory) Allowance

825,000

835,030

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

89,200

89,234

Maternity Benefit

105,800

107,336

Health and Safety Benefit

230

213

Adoptive Benefit

580

532

Disability Benefit

401,300

433,455

Invalidity Pension

439,800

440,263

Carer’s Benefit

8,150

6,943

Occupational Injuries Benefits

80,340

78,757

Bereavement Grant

14,000

12,288

Widowed Parent Grant

3,000

2,867

Unemployment Benefit

494,030

477,129

Treatment Benefit

69,650

63,348

Free Schemes

140,520

158,236

Equal Treatment

5

Redundancy & Insolvency

94,800

97,636

Administration

183,940

184,042

Total:

4,702,490

4,833,197

2002 — Social Insurance Fund

Scheme / Service

Estimate Provision

Outturn

€000

€000

Old Age (Contributory) Pension

804,900

868,529

Retirement Pension

794,600

803,413

Widow’s & Widower’s (Contributory) Pension & Orphans (Contributory) Allowance

769,400

773,233

Deserted Wife’s Benefit

87,700

88,150

Maternity Benefit

96,300

99,129

Health and Safety Benefit

220

217

Adoptive Benefit

380

578

Disability Benefit

376,600

385,297

Invalidity Pension

402,000

403,617

Carer’s Benefit

5,600

5,807

Occupational Injuries Benefits

75,700

77,018

Bereavement Grant

14,000

12,224

Widowed Parent Grant

3,000

2,971

Unemployment Benefit

411,800

423,487

Treatment Benefit

64,300

60,796

Free Schemes

133,290

135,270

Equal Treatment

17

Redundancy & Insolvency

50,800

58,713

Administration

175,800

177,458

Total:

4,266,390

4,375,924

Pension Provisions

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

225 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41838/10]

The Pensions Board is a regulatory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection. The statutory role of the Board is to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act 1990. The Board was established in 1991 under the provisions of the Pensions Act, 1990, as amended, and comprises a chairperson and 16 ordinary members appointed by the Minister for Social Protection.

The Act defines the functions of the Board as follows:

to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act and pensions development generally, including trust Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs);

to issue guidelines or guidance notes on the duties and responsibilities of trustees of schemes and codes of practice on specific aspects of their responsibilities;

to issue guidelines or guidance generally on the operation of the Pensions Act and on the provisions of the Family Law Act, 1995, and the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996, relating to pension schemes;

to encourage and support the provision of appropriate training facilities for trustees of schemes;

to advise the Minister on all matters relating to functions assigned to the Board under the Pensions Act and on matters relating to pensions generally and to undertake such tasks as the Minister may, from time to time, request.

The Pensions Board aims to:

promote the security and protection of members of occupational pension schemes, trust RACs and contributors to Personal Retirement Savings Accounts in accordance with the Pensions Act;

promote the development of efficient national pension structures;

promote a level of participation in the national pension system which enables all citizens to acquire an adequate retirement income;

provide information and authoritative guidance to relevant parties in support of pension security, structures and participation.

All members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for Social Protection under the provisions of the Act and must comprise representatives of trade unions, employers, consumer interests, pensioner interests, the Government, the pensions industry, member trustees and professional groups involved with pension arrangements. The term of office for Board members is five years. Casual vacancies are filled directly by the Minister, on the nomination of the relevant nominating body, as appropriate. A person who fills a casual vacancy holds office for the remainder of the current five year period which commenced on 21 December 2005 and which will expire on 20 December 2010. A new Board will be appointed from 21 December 2010.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

226 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied). [41839/10]

The Pensions Board is a regulatory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection. The statutory role of the Board is to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act 1990.

The operations of the Pensions Board are largely financed by annual fees payable to it by occupational pension schemes and by providers of Personal Retirement Savings Accounts and trust RACs. My Department funds the National Pensions Awareness Campaign for which €500,000 has been allocated in 2010.

A table showing the number of staff and funding received from my Department for each of the years in question is set out below.

Year

Staff Numbers

National Pensions Awareness Campaign

2008

39.3

1,000,000

2009

39.3

500,000

2010

37.8

500,000

Staff numbers are as of 31 December except for 2010 which is current staff numbers. The numbers include a temporary staff member at Assistant Principal level which is funded by National Pensions Awareness Campaign.

Social Welfare Code

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

227 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection the investigations that take place when an application is made (details supplied); the proof required by the Department in such situations; whether the onus of proof lies with the employer or employee; the steps the Department takes to rectify such situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41843/10]

The Department's Inspectorate, appointed under Section 250 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, is responsible, inter alia, for ensuring that employers and self-employed people comply with the Act in relation to Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. Employer compliance, in this regard, is monitored through employer enquiries and inspections which include detailed examinations of employers' records to ensure that correct PRSI payments are being made in respect of all employees.

Where PRSI undercharges are confirmed, the Inspector sets out the PRSI arrears or underpayment in respect of each employee for each tax year and issues a demand to the employer for payment. Should the employer fail to respond satisfactorily, a statutory demand will issue by registered post and the employer given 14 days to respond. If the employer fails to respond, the case is considered for prosecution.

Employer enquiries on PRSI compliance can be referred either by a customer or by a Department official where irregularities on a customer's record are identified. Where an employee notifies the Department that his or her employer has not been remitting PRSI on their behalf, or where an irregularity in a customer's PRSI record is detected at claim processing stage, the case is referred to a Social Welfare Inspector to enquire into the matter.

The Department is committed to ensuring that employers comply with their statutory obligations, thereby ensuring that employees do not suffer a delay in securing any social welfare entitlements and contributions to the Social Insurance Fund are made in an accurate and timely manner.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

228 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent allowance has been stopped in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; if this decision can be urgently reviewed given that the person has supplied all the requested information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42016/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has notified them that she no longer wishes to claim rent supplement in County Meath but does wish to make a claim for rent supplement in Dublin. The HSE has advised the person concerned to make an application for rent supplement to the community welfare officer in the area where she intends to reside.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Ring

Ceist:

229 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will be held in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [42022/10]

The claim for disability allowance, by the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department on 23 April 2010 following an assessment by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that she was not medically suitable.

An appeal was opened on 30 June 2010 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Employment Support Services

Joe Carey

Ceist:

230 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding his plans to introduce a new social employment scheme; when full details of the scheme will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42024/10]

Activation and support for those who are unemployed is a key priority for Government. Earlier this year, the Taoiseach announced a number of changes to improve the delivery of employment, training and community services to the public by bringing together related responsibilities in these areas. These changes included the restructuring of Departmental responsibilities with the objective of providing a stream-lined response to the income support and job search needs of people who are unemployed.

In this context, my Department is devising proposals for the development of new initiatives based on the Rural Social Scheme and the Community Services Programme which will offer social employment opportunities. This new initiative will be an important element in the development and delivery of employment and community services and will aim to provide quality work opportunities to the unemployed and beneficial outcomes to the community. A key feature of the new scheme will be to provide a new activation route that will support unemployed people in remaining job-ready for re-entry to employment as the economic environment improves.

Considerable work is required on these proposals before they come on stream and take their place within the suite of activation measures aimed at supporting unemployed people. Details of the rollout of this initiative will be made available as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Appeals

James Reilly

Ceist:

231 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Social Protection the length of time it will take for a person’s (details supplied) application for domiciliary care allowance for an appeal oral hearing to be heard; if this application can be prioritised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42028/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

3 additional Appeals Officers were assigned to the Office since January 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

In addition, it was decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short term basis to supplement the current resources and the services of eight retired officers have now been secured on a part-time basis and have been operating since July.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

232 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when oral hearing will take place in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that this matter is ongoing for some time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42033/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

3 additional Appeals Officers were assigned to the Office since January 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

In addition, it was decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short term basis to supplement the current resources and the services of eight retired officers have now been secured on a part-time basis and have been operating since July.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

233 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the action he has taken to ensure that every tenant in receipt of rent supplement is registered for the rental accommodation scheme and is aware that the 30-hour rule in respect of when they take up employment is not applied in their circumstances. [42063/10]

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term income support, to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

There are currently over 96,200 tenants benefiting from a rent supplement payment — an increase of 61 per cent since the end of 2007. Over 44,500 have been in payment for 18 months or more. The rental accommodation scheme (RAS), which was introduced in 2004, gives local authorities specific responsibility for meeting the longer term housing needs of people receiving rent supplement for 18 months or more.

The Department, on a quarterly basis, advises local authorities through the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government of all tenants who have been in receipt of rent supplement for 18 months or more. It is then the responsibility of the local authority to determine whether a person is eligible for accommodation under the rental accommodation scheme. Any person taking up an employment or training opportunity is advised of their entitlements by the community welfare service.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

234 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the rules applying in relation to the total number of refusals of a rental accommodation scheme or other social housing accommodation a tenant on rent supplement is allowed before rent supplement is refused, suspended or withdrawn [42068/10]

It is a condition of any applicant's entitlement to a rent supplement that s/he has not refused to accept, within any continuous 12 month period commencing on or after 27 July 2009, a second offer of accommodation, provided by either a housing authority (including accommodation offered under the Rental Accommodation Scheme) or any body approved by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for the purposes of Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992 (No. 18 of 1992) i.e. the Capital Assistance Housing scheme. Where the Health Service Executive (HSE) is notified that an applicant has refused a second offer of accommodation within a 12 month period, the HSE is obliged to cease payment of rent supplement for a period of 12 months from the date of refusal. On the expiry of the 12 month period it will be open to the applicant to re-apply for rent supplement subject to the normal qualifying conditions. A full assessment of housing need will be required by the relevant local authority before rent supplement will be considered.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

235 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42090/10]

A total of 55 people in my Department availed of incentivised career break arrangements.

However, as all of these people were replaced by way of redeployment of surplus staff from other Departments to take account of the significant increase in the Live Register, it is not possible to measure the net savings to the Exchequer.

Departmental Agencies

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

236 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the total Exchequer funding provided to Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland each year since 2000 to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41759/10]

The levels of exchequer funding provided by my Department to Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and all other agencies under the aegis of my Department are outlined in detail in the Revised Estimates Volumes and Appropriation Accounts for each year.

The following table outlines the total provided to Tourism Ireland each year since 2002, when my Department was established as the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. Details of funding to Fáilte Ireland are included from 2004, the first full year in which funding was provided to Fáilte Ireland following its establishment.

The Deputy will be aware that, as a North/South body, Tourism Ireland also receives funding from the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for the promotion of the island of Ireland as a destination, under an agreed formula.

The table also outlines funding provided under the Tourism Marketing Fund. The Tourism Marketing Fund supports the marketing of the island of Ireland as a destination by Tourism Ireland overseas as well as regional and niche product marketing by Fáilte Ireland.

Year

Fáilte Ireland

Tourism Ireland Ltd

Tourism Marketing Fund

€000

€000

€000

2002

16,197

25,890

2003

15,761

30,420

2004

62,088

16,619

31,485

2005

70,400

17,500

35,795

2006

84,457

18,737

40,000

2007

88,646

19,600

45,000

2008

97,394

19,954

50,000

2009

82,305

18,970

47,250

2010*

89,299

18,740

44,250

*As allocated in the Estimates for 2010.

Garda Vetting

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

237 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the reason a registered organisation (details supplied) must go through the Sports Council to receive Garda vetting. [41989/10]

The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body responsible for the promotion, development and coordination of sport which includes responsibility for dealing with the recognised sporting organisations and allocation of funding to same. The ISC was established on a statutory basis on 1st July, 1999, and the functions of the Council are outlined in Section 6 of the Irish Sports Council Act 1999.

This includes recognition, for purposes of funding or for any other reason, of any sporting or recreational activity, including dealing with sporting organisations and allocation of funding to same. All recognised National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) now have access to Garda vetting through the Irish Sports Council. The organisation in question is not a recognised as a National Governing Body of Sport by the ISC.

Art Collections

Mary Upton

Ceist:

238 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she will give an assurance that the art collection located in Allied Irish Bank will not be sold; her views that since the State is a major shareholder in Allied Irish Bank it is only appropriate that this shareholder should be consulted on the future of the art collection; if she considers it appropriate that since this collection is effectively owned by the State that it should be available for viewing by the general public; the action she plans to take to ensure that the collection is made available for public viewing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42025/10]

Mary Upton

Ceist:

239 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she will provide an inventory of the art collection currently held by Allied Irish Bank; if she will provide an estimate of the value of the art collection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42027/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 238 and 239 together.

I am advised by my colleague, the Minister for Finance, that the State, at present, holds, through the National Pensions Reserve Fund, some 18% of the ordinary equity in Allied Irish Bank. The day to day management of the Bank will remain on a normal commercial basis and the management of assets by Allied Irish Banks, including the holding or displaying of artworks, will remain a matter for the board of the bank.

Allied Irish Bank has been a great supporter of contemporary Irish artists over the last thirty years. It has, I believe, the most important corporate holdings of contemporary works of Irish art in this country. I would be a shame if this collection was broken up.

I am hugely concerned that the sale of the Bank of Ireland collection would depress an already troubled market place for contemporary Irish art practice. I pointed this out to the Bank of Ireland and, emphasised the deflationary and displacement impact which the sale of a significant body of contemporary art will have on the market here and, in particular, on emerging artists. In response, the Bank has donated a number of significant works from its collection to the State.

I understand that the AIB Art collection is described as a ‘working' collection and pieces are located at offices and branches across Ireland and in AIB international offices. AIB operates an active policy of lending pieces, on request, to galleries across Ireland for exhibitions. In the last two years, it has stepped up this lending programme, which it intends to continue with the objective of bringing the collection to a wider audience and supporting the arts in the communities. I have now written to the Executive Chairman of A.I.B., asking that any pressure to dispose of its collection be resisted.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

240 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of persons in her Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42092/10]

No staff in my Department availed of the incentivised career break arrangements announced in 2009. Hence there were no savings to the Exchequer from this Department as a result of the initiative.

Social and Affordable Housing

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

241 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will support a matter (details supplied). [41739/10]

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 341 and 343 of 9 November 2010 which sets out the position in regard to access to housing supports.

Planning Issues

Michael Creed

Ceist:

242 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his proposals to amend the current retail planning guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41745/10]

Joe Carey

Ceist:

250 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the present position regarding his Department’s review of the retail planning guidelines; when he expects this process to be completed; when the new guidelines will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41833/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 242 and 250 together.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 199 of 14 October 2010 which sets out the position in this matter.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

243 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm, with particular regard to relevant case law (details supplied), that an architect who is eligible for registration in accordance with section 14(2)(b) of the Building Control Act 2007, is not obliged, once so registered, to remain a member of the relevant body in order to remain named on the register of architects [41779/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

244 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to amend the Building Control Act 2007 to take cognisance of a newly created category of architect (details supplied) and the impact that category has on Section 14(4) of the Act; if so, the further amendments he envisages making to the Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41780/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 243 and 244 together.

Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007 sets out the detailed requirements for registration of the title of "Architect". The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) is designated as the registration body under the Act. Membership of the RIAI is not a prerequisite for registration. I have no plans to amend the Building Control Act 2007 at present.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Seán Power

Ceist:

245 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans concerning the Ballymore Eustace waste water treatment plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41791/10]

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Kildare. A contract for the Ballymore Eustace Wastewater Treatment Plant (SLI) is included in the Programme amongst the list of contracts in the county to start in the period 2010-2012.

In April 2010, my Department gave approval to Kildare County Council to advance this scheme. It is now a matter for the Council to progress this scheme to construction.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

246 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of sewerage facilities at Carrigaholt, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41797/10]

Joe Carey

Ceist:

247 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of sewerage facilities at Broadford, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41799/10]

Joe Carey

Ceist:

248 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position in relation to the development of the Ennis-Clarecastle main drainage scheme in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41800/10]

Joe Carey

Ceist:

253 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a sewerage scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42054/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 246 to 248, inclusive, and 253 together.

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Clare. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence to the value of some €38 million in the county during the period of the Programme.

Phases 1 and 2 of the Ennis / Clarecastle Sewerage Scheme are included in the Programme to advance through planning over the course of the Programme. Last April my Department issued approval to Clare County Council to extend the brief of its consultants to review the Preliminary Report for the Scheme. This will allow the precise scope of the Scheme to be defined, taking cognisance of the Ennis and environs development plan. Any priority contracts which emerge through this process will be considered for inclusion for commencement under the new annual review process included for the first time in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012.

However, it was not possible to include the Carrigaholt, Broadford and Doolin Sewerage Schemes amongst the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion in the Programme. The new Programme prioritises projects that target environmental compliance issues and support economic and employment growth as envisaged in the Government's policy document Building Ireland's Smart Economy — A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal. A key input to the development of the Programme was the assessment of needs prepared by local authorities, including Clare County Council, in response to my Department's request to the authorities in 2009 to review and prioritise their proposals for new capital works in their areas. These were subsequently appraised in the Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities. Inevitably, through this process, certain projects that had been proposed had to give way to others that are more strategically important at this time.

Noise Pollution

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

249 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to any local authorities who are in breach of the environmental noise regulations 2006; the progress made towards the implementation of a noise action plan regarding the south city link road, N27; if he will confirm that Cork City Council is in conformity with the noise regulations in regard to the N27; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41816/10]

The Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 give effect in Ireland to EU Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is designated as the National Authority for the purpose of the Regulations. The Agency's role includes supervisory, advisory and coordination functions in relation to noise-mapping, action planning, and fulfilling reporting requirements.

The Directive and Regulations provide for a two-stage approach to the assessment and management of environmental noise, and the preparation of strategic noise maps for areas and infrastructure falling within defined criteria, e.g. large agglomerations, major roads, railways and airports. Responsibility for the preparation of such maps lies with the designated noise-mapping bodies, i.e., the relevant local authorities, Dublin Airport Authority, the National Roads Authority, Iarnród Éireann and the Railway Procurement Agency. Based on the results of the mapping process, the designated action planning authorities, i.e. the local authorities are required to prepare noise action plans for their functional areas. Both the noise maps and noise action plans are required to be reviewed at least every 5 years with the next reviews scheduled for 2012 and 2013 respectively.

In relation to the implementation of the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006, the EPA has informed my Department that the following County Councils have submitted draft noise action plans, but have yet to submit finalised plans to the Agency, following the completion of public consultation:

Galway County Council,

Laois County Council,

Sligo County Council,

Wexford County Council, and

Wicklow County Council.

The EPA has issued a notice to the above County Councils under Section 63 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992, requesting that they submit finalised noise action plans.

Cork City Council has submitted its finalised Noise Action Plan to the Agency. Assessment of progress made in relation to the implementation of the plan will form part of the review due in 2013. The Council is required, as per the provisions of Regulation 11(7) of the Environmental Noise Regulations 2006, to review, and if necessary, revise an action plan in the event of a material change in environmental noise in the area concerned, if requested by the Agency, or every five years as indicated above.

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 242.

Planning Issues

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

251 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 207 and 215 of 3 November 2010, if, in accordance with best practice which he would wish local authorities to pursue, local authorities should consult with their elected members on the compilation of a draft development levy scheme, thereby identifying the parameters and objectives which the members ultimately wish incorporate into a scheme, and having regard to the need to ensure that an effective co-ordinated and appropriate development levy scheme is eventually adopted by each planning authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41856/10]

As stated in the reply to Questions Nos. 207 and 215 of 3 November 2010 the adoption of individual development contribution schemes is a reserved function of the locally elected members of each planning authority. The publication of a draft development contribution scheme is an executive function of the local authority, and they are best placed to decide on the procedural arrangements that should inform that process.

It is open to the elected members to amend a draft scheme when it is referred to them for their consideration and adoption.

Local Authority Funding

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

252 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the situation following a proposal made by Irish hotels to introduce a 30% waiver on rates due on hotels and guest houses particularly given the slowness of revaluation of properties under the Valuation Act 2001; his views of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42021/10]

Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority.

Under section 2 of the Local Government (Rates) Act 1970, a local authority may make a scheme providing for a waiver of some or all of the rates due by certain ratepayers. Any such scheme requires the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. I have not received any proposal from a local authority for a waiver scheme in respect of the hotel sector.

However, I have urged local authorities to exercise restraint in setting the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) in this and previous years and they have responded positively in this regard. Across the 88 local authorities the average change of ARV from 2009 to 2010 shows a decrease of 0.62%. As part of a range of measures to aid economic recovery, I am clear on the need for continued reductions in commercial rates over the coming years.

Question No. 253 answered with Question No. 246.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

254 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of persons in his Department who availed of the incentivised career break arrangements and the net savings to the Exchequer of the initiative. [42085/10]

Some 36 staff in my Department availed of the incentivised career break scheme. Net savings to the Exchequer over the period 2009-2013 amounts to some €3.8m.

National Grid

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

255 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the electricity consumption each month from April 2010 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41762/10]

EirGrid plc, is the Irish transmission system operator and has a statutory responsibility for forecasting and reporting on supply and demand in the Irish electricity system.

EirGrid now publishes monthly electricity statistic reports on its website and this data, which includes details of monthly electricity demand, demand growth, peak demand and installed generation capacity, is readily accessible. The total consumption of electricity in Ireland by month from April 2010 to September 2010 as reported on its website is as follows:

Date

April 2010

2.11

May 2010

2.08

June 2010

1.97

July 2010

2.02

August 2010

2.00

September 2010

2.04

The data above is given in Tera Watt hours, with a Tera Watt hour equal to a million Mega Watt Hours.

EirGrid recently presented its Winter Outlook Report for 2010/11, which examines the capability of the generation portfolio available to EirGrid and SONI to meet peak demands in Ireland and Northern Ireland between November 2010 and March 2011 inclusive. Overall, the analysis for the island from a security of supply perspective is positive with capacity meeting and indeed exceeding demand. This outlook is primarily due to the decline in demand and also due to the commissioning of new plants including Aghada and Whitegate.

EirGrid also publishes an annual Generation Adequacy Report, which sets out estimates of the demand for electricity in the following 7-year period, the likely production capacity that will be in place to meet this demand, and assesses the consequences in terms of the overall supply/demand balance.

In its most recent Generation Adequacy Report for the period 2010 to 2016, EirGrid highlighted that the change in the economic climate since 2008 has been reflected in a reduction in electricity demand. It also noted that this reduction in demand, coupled with the connection of new generation, improved generator availability, and increased interconnection, by 2012 means that there is adequate capacity to meet demand in accordance with system standards over the next seven years.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

256 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of residential disconnections from the national grid each month since January 2006 to date in 2010; the amount of these disconnections that result from unpaid arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41763/10]

Under S.I 450 of 2010, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has been granted a new statutory function in relation to monitoring and reporting on electricity retail markets, including disconnections. The CER has advised that it has not been able to provide the detailed breakdown of information requested by the Deputy in the timeframe for responding to this Parliamentary Question. I have therefore requested that the CER provide these figures directly to the Deputy, once they are available.

In the interim, the CER has provided the information set out below in relation to the total number of disconnections completed by ESB Networks on site for Non-Payment of Account:

Year

No. of Disconnections

2006

5,538

2007

10,921

2008

10,986

2009

9,709

2010 — to October 2010

16,492

The increased rate of disconnections is a concern for the Government, the CER and energy suppliers. The key message for customers is to contact their suppliers to make arrangements before it gets to the point of disconnection. All energy suppliers have a Code of Practice in place setting out the steps to be taken before initiating a disconnection. These Codes of Practice require the suppliers to engage with the customer and /or a third party such as Money Advise and Budgeting Service (MABS) or St. Vincent De Paul on pre-payment plans and /or alternative methods of payment (prepayment meters/budget controllers).

Prior to disconnections the suppliers must give a minimum of seven days notice, to the customer of its intention to request a disconnection to be carried out by the network operators and the associated costs. A supplier may not request the disconnection of a customer who has entered into a payment plan and is honouring that arrangement. There are also protections in the current code for vulnerable customers, for example, to prohibit electricity suppliers disconnecting elderly customers in the winter months.

The CER has recently published a review of the regulated policy on disconnection (for non-payment of account), in the context of improved customer protection. CER also provides a dedicated Energy Customers website and Energy Customer Team which provides consumer information on the electricity and gas market at www.energycustomers.ie/

Some 380,000 domestic customers are recipients of either the free electricity allowance (340,000 households) or the free gas allowance (40,000 households) under the Department for Social Protection — Household Benefits package. The free electricity allowance pays the standing charge and 2,400 free units of electricity per year, minimising or eliminating bills for these consumers. The Minister for Social Protection has recently announced that this scheme will also cover the cost of the PSO Levy. An additional 340,000 customers also receive Fuel Allowance payments (currently €20 per week) to help with home heating costs for 32 weeks from Sept. to end of April. Therefore, over 20% of domestic electricity customers in Ireland are in receipt of some form of direct financial support for their energy costs through the Department for Social Protection, even taking into account the fact that there is some overlap between these schemes (i.e. 142,000 people receive both the Household Benefits package and the fuel allowance payments). Local Community Welfare Officers can also provide exceptional needs payments which can include support for energy bills and also heating supplement if the applicant meets certain criteria.

The Government through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has committed to funding to a number of schemes available to consumers and businesses to enable them reduce their electricity bills by increasing their energy efficiency. For example, the Warmer Home Scheme (WHS) was established to address the poor thermal efficiency performance of low-income housing. The scheme provides attic insulation, draught proofing, lagging jackets, and energy efficient light, cavity wall insulation and energy advice at no cost to eligible households. The scheme is targeted at households who are in receipt of the Fuel Allowance Scheme and Disability Allowance.

Warmer Homes Scheme

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

257 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of homes that have availed of the warmer homes scheme in County Meath since the commencement of the scheme; the level of funding of the warmer homes scheme in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41790/10]

The Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS), which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department, provides energy efficiency improvements to homes in, or at risk of, fuel poverty and is primarily delivered by 28 community based organisations (CBOs). The CBOs work in partnership with their local network of poverty and community support organisations including public health nurses, MABS and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to identify and address vulnerable homes. Through this devolved model, each CBO is responsible for managing the applications in their own operational areas. Private contractors are also engaged to supplement CBO coverage and capacity in order to address the increasing demand for the scheme. The SEAI is therefore not directly involved in the application process but oversees and monitors the implementation of the scheme including audit of projects.

Through these mechanisms the WHS was delivered to 16,240 homes in 2009 including 851 homes in County Meath. To date in 2010 the WHS has been delivered to 18,387 homes including 190 homes in County Meath. There is no preset amount of funding allocated to individual counties under the WHS. The Scheme is a national scheme with an overall funding envelope responding to annual budget demand which varies on a county by county basis and can also vary year on year as between counties. The budget allocation for the WHS is €29.9 million for 2010.

Telecommunications Services

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

258 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the national broadband scheme rollout will be complete for County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41820/10]

Under the terms of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) contract, the NBS Service Provider, 3, is obliged to establish the infrastructure and make the specified NBS services available to fixed businesses and residences within the NBS Coverage Area. The rollout of the provision of NBS services advanced incrementally over a 22-month period and was completed in October 2010.

In line with the NBS contract, broadband services are now available to all premises within each of the 1,028 designated NBS Electoral Divisions (ED), including those in County Galway. A list of the EDs covered in County Galway is set out as follows. As part of its commitment to deliver a total of 389 NBS sites, 5 sites in County Galway remain to be constructed and integrated into 3's NBS network.

National Broadband Scheme (NBS)

Electoral Divisions (ED) Covered by the NBS in County Galway

ED Name

ED Reference No.

ABBEYGORMACAN ED

67003

ABBEYVILLE ED

67004

ADDERGOOLE ED

67005

AHASCRAGH ED

67006

AILLE ED

67007

BALLYCAHALAN ED

67022

BALLYGLASS ED

67023

BALLYMACWARD ED

67024

BALLYNAGAR ED

67027

BALLYNAKILL ED

67028

BEAGHMORE ED

67034

BELCLARE ED

67035

BENCORR ED

67037

BOYOUNAGH ED

67038

BRACKLAGH ED

67039

BULLAUN ED

67040

BUNOWEN ED

67041

CAHERMORE ED

67042

CAMUS ED

67044

CAPPALUSK ED

67045

CAPPARD ED

67046

CARROWNAGUR ED

67049

CARROWREVAGH ED

67050

CLARETUAM ED

67056

CLEGGAN ED

67058

CLIFDEN ED

67059

CLONBERN ED

67060

CLONTUSKERT ED

67063

CLOONBUR ED

67064

CLOONKEEN ED

67066

CLOONKEEN ED

67067

COLMANSTOWN ED

67068

CONG ED

67069

COOS ED

67071

CREGGS ED

67073

CUR ED

67076

CURRAGHMORE ED

67077

CUSHKILLARY ED

67078

DERREW ED

67080

DERRYGLASSAUN ED

67082

DOONBALLY ED

67086

DOONLOUGHAN ED

67087

DRUMKEARY ED

67090

DRUMMIN ED

67091

EYRECOURT ED

67095

FOXHALL ED

67096

GORUMNA ED

67102

GRANGE ED

67104

HILLSBROOK ED

67107

ILLION ED

67108

INISHMORE ED

67110

ISLAND ED

67111

KILBENNAN ED

67114

KILCHREEST ED

67115

KILCONIERIN ED

67117

KILCOONA ED

67119

KILCROAN ED

67120

KILCUMMIN ED

67121

KILCUMMIN ED

67122

KILLAAN ED

67123

KILLALLAGHTAN ED

67124

KILLEEN ED

67128

KILLIAN ED

67132

KILLIMOR ED

67133

KILLIMOR ED

67134

KILLINNY ED

67135

KILLORAN ED

67137

KILLOWER ED

67138

KILLURSA ED

67140

KILMEEN ED

67143

KILQUAIN ED

67145

KILREEKILL ED

67146

KILSHANVY ED

67147

KILTHOMAS ED

67150

KILTORMER ED

67151

KILTULLAGH ED

67152

KILTULLAGH ED

67153

KNOCKBOY ED

67155

LAURENCETOWN ED

67159

LEITRIM ED

67160

LETTERBRICKAUN ED

67161

LETTERFORE ED

67162

LETTERMORE ED

67163

LEVALLY ED

67164

LOUGHATORICK ED

67168

MARBLEHILL ED

67171

MILLTOWN ED

67173

MOAT ED

67174

MOUNTAIN ED

67177

MOUNTHAZEL ED

67178

MOYRUS ED

67182

OATFIELD ED

67183

OWENGOWLA ED

67186

PALLAS ED

67187

PORTUMNA ED

67188

RAFORD ED

67189

RAHEEN ED

67191

RINVYLE ED

67192

ROSS ED

67193

ROUNDSTONE ED

67194

SCREGG ED

67196

SELERNA ED

67197

SHANKILL ED

67198

SILLERNA ED

67199

TEMPLETOGHER ED

67206

TIAQUIN ED

67207

TOBERADOSH ED

67209

TOBERROE ED

67210

TURLOUGH ED

67214

TYNAGH ED

67215

WOODFORD ED

67216

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

259 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will consider introducing a second phase of the national broadband scheme as a matter of urgency to ensure that all remaining areas in Donegal receive mobile Internet broadband coverage and that both ERNACT and ISD in Donegal County Council have a recognised input into the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41852/10]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services, is a matter for private sector service providers operating in a liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite. ComReg's website www.callcosts.ie provides detailed information on the various private sector telecommunications products and services available on a county by county basis, including County Donegal.

In cases of market failure the Government will intervene, where it is appropriate and possible to do so. The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) represents such an intervention.

EU State Aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.

In determining the Electoral Divisions ("ED") to be covered by the NBS, my Department conducted a detailed mapping exercise in 2008 of the levels of broadband coverage existing throughout the country at that time. The coverage analysis determined that of the 149 EDs within County Donegal, 52 were eligible for inclusion in the NBS on the basis of insufficient broadband coverage. The remaining EDs in County Donegal were excluded from the Scheme because it was found that a number of broadband suppliers were already active in theseareas.

The rollout of the provision of broadband services under the NBS advanced incrementally over a 22 month period and NBS services are now available throughout the NBS coveragearea.

However, despite Government and private investment in broadband, I am aware that there continues to be a small number of individual premises throughout the country that are not capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.)

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend to formally launch a Rural Broadband Scheme shortly. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas.

Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available in due course when the scheme is launched.

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

260 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources given that significant information and other services is provided via internet sites to both the public and as well as to staff, the processes, standards or recommendations in place to ensure that the design, development and maintenance of all such sites consistently complies with legislative requirements, technical standards and industry best practice in terms of data protection, security, accessibility and usability. [41994/10]

I assume that this Question applies to information provided over the internet by my Department. The Department has developed and maintain a number of applications that support internal business and provide information to the wider community through Internet sites.

All of these applications were built using standards and practices developed within the Information Systems Division of my Department, which have incorporated best practice as it has developed.

These standards reflect international best practice including reference to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the use of multi layered architectures and encryption where appropriate to secure personal information. No application is deployed until it has been subjected to a penetration test by an independent security specialist.

The accessibility and usability of the applications is ensured by the use of a Common Interface Design Framework (CIDF) developed by my Department to standardise design and development of user interfaces.

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

261 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources given that the Programme for Government challenges us to build a productive, smart economy in order to create new jobs, many of which will be building the communications infrastructure and internet of tomorrow, the way he plans to develop and support the increasing focus on quality and standards that is needed to compete internationally against low-cost competitors. [41997/10]

Government policy pertaining to the electronic communications market in Ireland is set out in "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", which I published in June 2009. The policy paper was developed in accordance with various key principles, which are crucial to the development of the market including (i) competition, at platform and service levels, which drives innovation and investment (ii) investment certainty for service providers considering investing in network infrastructure, (iii) investment intervention by Government to bridge any digital divide in cases of market failure and to meet certain of the State's own communication needs, and (iv) appropriate regulation. The policy paper sets out the Government's position that investment in broadband infrastructure is primarily a matter for the private sector, facilitated, where appropriate and possible, by Government.

The policy has facilitated significant progress in broadband roll out and increasing broadband speeds over recent years. At the end of March 2007, for example, the number of broadband connections, at 600,000 approximately, first exceeded narrowband connections. At end June 2010, by comparison, Ireland had in the region of 1.48 million broadband subscriptions, narrowband connections had reduced to less than 5% of all Internet connections and of the homes with broadband access, 77.8% of them are using broadband speeds between 2mbps and 10mbps. This progress was achieved by a combination of competitive forces in the open market and Government and ERDF funded schemes such as the Metropolitan Areas Networks programme and the National Broadband Scheme. The latter schemes are designed to intervene where market failure has been identified. This approach is consistent with the EU Commission's ‘Community