Leaders' Questions

As we know, the rate of rent increases has been spiralling out of control in recent years. Rents have been soaring across the country. We know from various surveys, particularly the most recent daft.ie survey, which related to the third quarter of 2016, that there have been extraordinary increases in rent inflation. The annual rate of rent inflation was 11.7% last year. This was the highest increase recorded since 2002. Up to 2013-14, Dublin was the major driver of national rental inflation. Other areas have caught up dramatically since 2012-13. Some extraordinary increases were recorded last year. There were rent increases of 14.4% in Cork city, 12.5% in Cork county, 13.27% in Limerick, 10% in Galway, 13% in Waterford city, 15% in Meath, 13% in Kildare, 15% in Louth and 10.6% in Wicklow. I have itemised those increases to give people a sense of the scale of rental inflation across the country, including key urban areas and commuter belt areas, over recent years. There is a need to bring these increases under control and bring clarity to this situation.

We acknowledge that there have been changes in recent months. The possibility of increasing rent supplement was resisted for many years until the confidence and supply agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael resulted in such an increase, despite misgivings in Fine Gael, as well as increases in payments under the housing assistance programme. We also acknowledge that there has been a long struggle in relation to rent certainty and clarity. The Labour Party tried to bring that about when it was a member of the last Government, but it failed to get a breakthrough. It must be acknowledged that there seems to have been strong resistance in Fine Gael to any idea of a rent cap or rent clarity.

Fianna Fáil voted against it three times.

Legislation, rather than simplistic motions to play to the stage and to the Gallery, is needed for rent clarity.

We proposed legislation.

I make these points to acknowledge that there has been change within the Fine Gael Party regarding the idea of rent clarity. I think that has been brought about by public pressure. Our view is that the Minister's announcements are far too limited in scope and scale. Given the figures I have just outlined, the geography issue is for too restrictive and too limited. The boundaries of the cities do not take account of the suburban conurbations contiguous to the cities of Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway, etc. In many ways, these proposals appear to be too little, too late.

Go raibh maith agat.

It is essential for the geography to be broadened to take in major urban areas like Galway, Limerick and Waterford, as well as other areas like Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.

Tá an t-am caite.

Given the scale of rent increases we have already witnessed and people have suffered, we believe the proposed 4% limit is excessive.

Go raibh maith agat, a Theachta.

There is a need to bring that down.

Táimid ag cailleadh am.

There is a need to accelerate the incentives to increase supply and bring more houses into the rental market. I ask the Taoiseach-----

We are well over time.

-----to set out the Government's position on the three areas I have mentioned. There is a need for a response that involves a change in the Minister's proposals.

I am going to be severe on time today because I want to leave time for others. That applies to everyone.

I thank Deputy Martin for his question. This situation is unprecedented. It has been around for a very long time. Particular aims are set out in the Minister's comprehensive, targeted and focused rental strategy programme, which is the first intervention in the housing market here to be made by any Government. A great deal of discussion is going on with Deputy Martin's spokesman, whom I heard speaking this morning and at other times about the three issues Deputy Martin has just raised. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has responded to the three issues in question. Deputy Martin will be aware that the Minister for Finance has set up a working group on the taxation issue. In this year's budget, the Minister, Deputy Noonan, said he intends to increase the deductibility limit in respect of landlords until it gets to 100%. He set out the timescale for that.

Deputy Martin also asked about contiguous areas of the cities of Dublin and Cork, which have been included in the Minister's proposals. It is clear that this will be assessed on the basis of local electoral areas by the Residential Tenancies Board. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, is confident that the areas in question can be extended. He will have an answer to that question by February, by which time he will have received the board's assessment.

The decision to set the cap at 4% was made for a number of specific reasons. First, there is a need to ensure there is a reasonable rate of return on investment so that there is no spike effect at the end of the period of the designation. In other words, a lower limit could have the effect of storing up a sudden upward correction for tenants after three years. Second, the Government previously endorsed a limit of 4% per annum on a rolling five-year basis as a reasonable rate of return in the target portfolio set out in the ISIF investment strategy report, which was published in 2015. Third, the level we have chosen is 20% lower than this country's long-run annual rent increases over seven decades. Fourth, the maximum allowed inflation in rental pressure zones will be less than half of the current rate of annual rent inflation nationally. It is below the allowed rental inflation in a number of other countries where rents are indexed, including Germany, where rents may be increased by a maximum of 20% over a three-year period;-----

Go raibh maith agat, a Thaoisigh.

-----New York, where increases of 7.5% per annum are allowed until maximum rent is reached; Sweden, where rents can go beyond an agreed price ceiling up a maximum of 5%; and Switzerland, where rents can be increased to ensure there is a return, with nominal rates of return of approximately 6%.

The Taoiseach will have to use the next minute for the extra information.

This is a really important issue.

I hope that through consultation, we can manage to get it through.

The Taoiseach will have another opportunity.

I stress that the 4% limit has been set by the Government for very specific reasons.

The Government has left it very late in terms of the consultation and the publication of the amendments. They have to be in by 1 p.m. today. It is important to have engagement and consultation. It is incredible that we are where we are, in terms of proposals of this gravity and importance, in the last Dáil sitting week of the year. We are here and we do not want to render tenants more vulnerable now that the proposals have been announced by leaving them to be exploited over the intervening period. We will constructively try to get a resolution to this. We are not satisfied with the capacity of the Residential Tenancies Board to deal with all of this.

We believe the extended areas should be included in the amendments. It is just too restricted at present in respect of Dublin city and Cork city. It has to be expanded beyond those cities and that expansion has to be included in the amendments to the legislation, in our view, and that has to happen forthwith. The proposed increase of 4% is, again, a matter that has to be resolved by the Dáil. We have a view that it is excessive and we are holding to that. We are prepared to be constructive in our engagement with the Government.

Go raibh maith agat.

The third point, crucially, is that a great deal of reliance is being placed on the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, and there is a big issue about its capacity to monitor and ensure compliance with whatever regulations come out. There is a certain sense-----

Go raibh maith agat. I call the Taoiseach.

-----that there is one reality here. However, there is a completely different reality in the marketplace because people are being subjected to huge pressures to agree to increased rents.

I call the Taoiseach. We will be depriving other Members of time.

That is an issue. Therefore, the more action we take in the legislation over these two days, the better it will be in terms of bringing certainty, clarity and timeliness to the interventions that are being proposed.

This might be Leaders' Questions but we will be depriving other Members of time when they want to raise questions on the Order of Business. I call the Taoiseach. I ask all Members to respect the time limits.

I point out to Deputy Micheál Martin that this came into the Seanad approximately six weeks ago. It was made perfectly clear - and every spokesperson and all the parties understood - that it would be in the final week session that the matter would come before the Dáil, so it is not a case of it being very late for consultation. Consultations are ongoing with Fianna Fáil and with anybody else who wants to have them. Yesterday, the Minister spent the full day at the select committee dealing with this.

The RTB has been given extra resources. As pointed out, the start is with Cork and Dublin but, clearly, there are pressures in other locations. The RTB has been given extra resources to deal with this and it can respond and will have answers to the question by February. This is a really important matter for thousands of people and I hope this legislation will not be delayed. I have pointed out to the Deputy the very strong reasons why the Government set the cap at 4% and, obviously, those reasons stand up. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, is quite willing to continue to discuss with the Fianna Fáil spokesperson the issues surrounding landlords, taxation in respect of the geographical areas and how that can be implemented expeditiously, and the very strong reasons for striking a balance which is structured and directed to help tenants and continue the supply of housing.

Go raibh maith agat.

It clearly does not interfere with new houses or the elements to provide supply.

I call Deputy Adams. The same rule regarding time applies to him.

Tá mé cinnte go bhfuil do dhícheall á dhéanamh agat. Yesterday, I raised with the Taoiseach the Government's ill-thought-out proposals on the rental sector. I focused on two elements, namely, the absence of rent certainty and the Government's failure to deal with the difficulties - or even acknowledge the difficulties - faced by families in rented accommodation outside of the cities of Dublin and Cork. I did so because these are the two big failures with the Government's proposals but also because, like other Deputies, we did not have any sight of its propositions. That is the way the Government does business. The media was briefed and the document, complete with glossy brochure and all the other PR accoutrements, was launched outside the Dáil Chamber. This Government has produced more reports and press releases on housing and homelessness than it has built homes - that is the record of the Government. Deputies, who actually have the responsibility to vote on these measures, were kept in the dark about the detail. Now, contrary to the Taoiseach's protestations, he is rushing it through.

Sinn Féin's housing spokesperson, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin, tabled 90 amendments on Committee Stage, including one on rent certainty. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voted it down once again. We have tabled more substantive amendments today but the Government does not want any of them. All the bad old practices that marked the Government's previous term are being carried through into this term. The Taoiseach cannot even rely on Fianna Fáil on this one, or maybe he can. Part of Fianna Fáil's play-acting at being an Opposition party - the party of verbalised republicanism, the party which caused the crisis - is that every so often it has to engage in a sham fight with the Government. All the while, the 700,000 citizens in the private rented sector are being fleeced.

When we first brought these issues of homelessness, families in mortgage distress, the absence of social housing and the exploitation of families in the private sector to the Taoiseach's attention three or four years ago, he refused to act. He said it is clear that "interference in the market ... is not something we should do. While people are calling for what they call clarity on rent certainty, if we interfere in the wrong way, we will make matters worse." In fairness, the Government has interfered in the market - that is what it did yesterday. It has not quite abandoned its ideological position but it has set aside the principle in an inadequate way which, to use the Taoiseach's own words, has made matters worse. The people it has made matters worse for are the 700,000 citizens in that sector. They cannot afford the thousands of euro the Government proposals demand of them. I appeal to the Taoiseach to do the right thing, the proper thing, namely, introduce rent certainty, not rent punishment, and link rent increases to the consumer price index. That is the only solution that will adequately tackle this crisis.

Críochnaigh mé é ar an uair a chuir tú amach.

First, Deputy Adams has not read this document. It is not ill-thought-out at all. It is the result of intensive discussions, negotiations and presentations in recent months. Some 500 submissions were sent to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and they have been very carefully scrutinised. Of course, the starting point is the rental pressures in Cork and Dublin but that does not exclude other areas, and these are defined by sustained rental increases over a period that are above the national average. The RTB is being given extra resources to enable it to define those and by February it will have an answer to those questions of where rental pressure zones should be endorsed by and sanctioned by the Minister.

This year, 2016, 17,000 social housing units will be provided, not all new houses, but including returned voids, others that have been renovated and so on. Deputy Adams's idea seems to be that he wants to shut down supply entirely. He wants the Government to provide everything for everybody. He wants to have a cap right across the country which would simply stifle progress entirely. What is involved in this rental strategy is one of the five pillars of the comprehensive housing strategy provided by the Minister. It presents the opportunity for tenants to understand that their tenancies can continue. At the same time, it also ensures that there is a reasonable rate of return for private property let into the rental market and does not interfere with new houses or second-hand dwellings that are extensively renovated, even within rental pressure zones.

The fundamental issue is a supply problem. Due to the fact that the supply is not there, the rental situation has been exacerbated. We understand and appreciate the great difficulty that thousands of people have in respect of increasing rents in tenancies. That is why the Government is intervening here and is only doing so after very careful analysis of the conditions that should apply. The Fianna Fáil Party raised a number of issues and these are being discussed. I hope this House will see fit to let this legislation through this week, which will benefit thousands of people who are tenants in houses and who have a legitimate fear of or concern about rent rising. At the same time, it will not stultify supply of housing, as Deputy Adams would.

The Taoiseach says that the supply of houses is not there. Why is it not there? It is because the Government will not put public money into it. Instead, it put taxpayers' money into the pockets of the big bankers and their cronies.

The Minister said yesterday, "Really, we're kind of putting a bridle on the horse that has been almost out of control for the last two years". He said: "kind of". That describes it well - it is a "kind of" proposal and a "kind of" policy. Yesterday's announcement locks in rent increases of 12% for renters in Dublin city and Cork city, and that is on top of the runaway rent increases for everybody else. Four families a day are becoming homeless. What about the people outside Dublin city and Cork city? What about the people in the commuter belt? They are doomed to expect even higher increases in rents, which is what this plan envisages.

The Taoiseach ignored my substantive point when he responded to me a moment ago. The Government has interfered belatedly but inadequately with the market. It has conceded the principle. Will the Taoiseach acknowledge that? Having conceded the principle, why not follow through with rent certainty? He should explain why the Government will not follow through with rent certainty.

The housing allocation will increase from €800 million to €1.2 billion next year, which is a very substantial increase in funding for housing.

Why no rent certainty?

Government has intervened and intends to intervene in the market. It intends to intervene for the very specific reason that the rental structure is not working------

The Government's responses are not working.

-----and people are being forced by huge increases in rent in some areas to vacate their homes. The conditions for rental pressure zones are set out in the document presented by the Minister and approved by the Government yesterday. Those conditions are very clear. They are assessed by the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB. The essential condition is a sustained increase in rent of over 7%, which is above the national average. We start in Cork and Dublin. The RTB will have the opportunity to assess areas contiguous to those and other cities, which can be included in the area in which rental pressure zones will be authorised and in which the cap of 4% would apply.

In those areas there will be predictability and certainty for the period ahead for those tenancies but it will not interfere with the necessary supply of houses which has been the cause of the upward pressure in recent years.

I took part in a concert last night that was raising funds for two charities, one of which was the Capuchin day centre in Church Street and I listened to Brother Kevin make a speech. It was staggering to hear of the increasing numbers the centre is feeding and it was heartbreaking to listen to the stories of individuals and families who are engaging with the centre. We know the situation is worsening. We also know of the difficulties facing those with a disability and in our health service. We live in a very unequal society yet we live in the so-called developed world and can imagine what it is like for those living in the developing world. A major driver of this inequality is the economic, financial and tax policies of governments. What kind of society do we want to live in? If we want a fairer more equal society then, strange as it may seem, we have to apply morality and ethics to taxes and finance.

Last Monday, there was a very damning analysis in the report by Oxfam which puts Ireland in a list of 15 countries that are tax havens. While the Minister for Finance is very dismissive of the report, we have to take it seriously and consider it. Oxfam and other non-governmental organisations are highlighting tax injustice which has repercussions for our societies. Tax injustice comes from businesses, multinationals and corporations avoiding and evading tax. Over the past 30 years, the net profits posted by the world's largest companies more than tripled in real terms from €2 trillion to €7.2 trillion but that increase was not matched by a rise in corporate income tax returns. If we are serious about eliminating poverty, we have to have an efficient, well thought out and fair tax system. That means examining the taxing and profits of companies and large corporations because if we do that countries have more to invest in public services such as housing, education and health. Developing countries are up to three times more vulnerable to the negative effects of our tax policies than are the rich countries. It is calculated that they are losing $100 billion yearly as a result of this tax avoidance. Our role and reputation on the sustainable development goals will be completely undermined unless we commit in real and practical terms to the principle of tax justice which means a fairer world for everyone.

The Taoiseach gave a commitment to hold a conference and high level meeting on tax in early 2017. I would like to see a real adequate space for tax justice with the voices of those active in this area who see the effects of the tax policies of the developed world impacting on us and on the developing world. There has to be an input from those tax justice people and a commitment to the principle of tax justice.

The report published by the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, yesterday showed that those on lowest incomes benefited most from the budget. We have tried over recent years to improve the lot of those on lower incomes, principally by reducing the level of unemployment and providing a pathway and a road into jobs which is the route out of poverty but also by assistances such as reduction in or elimination of tax in some cases and the improvement in the minimum wage as recommended by the Low Pay Commission.

The Deputy raises a couple of important points. I heard comment on the Oxfam report yesterday. Ireland very strongly rejects allegations that this country is a tax haven.

The Taoiseach does not want to think about it.

We do not meet any of the international standards for being considered a tax haven. We are fully compliant with all the best practices in the areas of transparency and exchange of information. We have and want real substantive foreign direct investment, the kind that brings real jobs and investment into the country and the wider community. The Oxfam report includes Ireland's 12.5% rate as one of the factors in saying that this country is a tax haven. I reject that and strongly refute this characterisation of our tax rate. The 12.5% is fully in line with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, and international best practice in having a low rate and applying it to a very wide tax base. The 12.5% rate is available only on trading profits where there is a substantial activity in Ireland and our corporate tax policies are designed to attract real and substantive operations to Ireland. We have not been and never will be a brass plate location. The Deputy is aware that we got rid of the stateless and the "double Irish" concepts. This is the first country to have a fully OECD compliant knowledge box which is available to make our country continue to be attractive for investment in the future.

The Oxfam report mentions Ireland in the context of profit-shifting activities. We have been clear that we believe that aggressive tax planning can be best countered by international tax reform and have been at the forefront of that movement for some time. We are an active participant in the global work to reform the international corporate tax system. We have implemented country by country reporting. We have agreed the anti-tax avoidance directive and are working towards the implementation of the remaining elements of the OECD base erosion and profit shifting, BEPS, recommendations domestically and internationally. On budget day the Minister for Finance published an update on Ireland's international tax strategy which highlights our continuing efforts in this regard. I completely refute allegations of Ireland being a tax haven.

The Deputy mentioned having a forum for tax justice. We will hold a major economic forum in Dublin in January. Perhaps it would be appropriate to build an opportunity for that kind of discussion around that time and I will communicate with Deputy O'Sullivan on that issue.

I do believe damage has been done to our reputation. There is one way to ensure our reputation is restored. We can be more proactive in supporting and adhering to the public country by country reporting and committing to the highest level of transparency. We should ensure that companies are made to conduct their tax business in a more just and open way. That is the way to disprove and challenge the Oxfam report.

Our development aid programme is one of the world's best. It is acknowledged that human rights are at the heart of our foreign affairs policy so they should be at the heart of our domestic policy also. Joseph Wresinksi, founder of All Together in Dignity, said "extreme poverty does not have to exist. Human beings create it and they are the ones who can put an end to it." The Taoiseach mentioned the meeting in January but I want to talk about the other high level meeting that I think was part of his commitment. We have nothing to fear. Let us read the Oxfam report and let Oxfam and the other NGOs come in and have a real debate on tax justice and the implications of tax policies for Ireland and other countries.

We have nothing to hide. We have been very clear and upfront about all these matters. I will find an opportunity where that can happen, where the Oxfam report can be debated in public and where we can stand over what we say about the changes we have made in the tax position, the actions we have taken both nationally and internationally and disprove any claims or allegations that this country belongs to a category of what one might call tax havens. I value the Deputy's suggestion and I thank her.

I, too, would like to raise the issue of the Oxfam report that came out on Monday. Deputy O'Sullivan quite rightly refers to the need for tax justice. Another way to look at this might be enlightened self-interest in that if we do our bit for global taxation, it will make for a stronger reputation for Ireland and a stronger investment in Ireland. As the Taoiseach knows, Oxfam has ranked Ireland as the sixth-worst tax haven in the world. It would be easy to dismiss Oxfam's report as unfair, misleading or alarmist. However, it is not alone. In 2013, Ireland was singled out as a tax haven by the US Senate committee on homeland security. In 2015, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty reported that, when lists of tax havens are drawn up, Ireland is always prominent among them. Just a few months ago, Brazil added Ireland to its list of tax havens. I agree with the Taoiseach that Ireland is absolutely not a tax haven. However, there is a growing international perception that we just might be. That is damaging our international reputation, but it could do far worse. Our international trade treaties are predicated on us not being a tax haven.

Oxfam has levelled three charges at Ireland. The first charge is that our corporation tax rate is too low. With the greatest of respect to Oxfam, I would suggest that that is none of its business. That is entirely within the competence of this country. The second charge that Oxfam levels is that Ireland facilitates large-scale profit sharing. Several years ago, that would have been a very reasonable charge. However, I agree that considerable progress has been made in recent years. The third charge that Oxfam levels at us is that we offer tax incentives to certain sectors that allows them to avoid paying tax. On this point, unfortunately, Oxfam is absolutely on the money.

In recent years, we have seen the creation of new suite of investment funds for property investors. Some of the investors are domestic, but they are mainly foreign. These include real estate investment trusts, qualified investment funds, Irish collective asset management vehicles, and now, most recently, Irish real estate funds. Until a few years ago, property companies paid tax on their profits, just like other companies in Ireland. Almost every OECD country applies that principle. Ireland does not anymore. Using these new vehicles, big foreign landlords can pay no tax in Ireland on massive profits. Critically, they do not have to file publicly accessible accounts. We do not know what level of taxes are being avoided, we do not know what profits are being offshored and we do not know what rulings these funds have received from the Revenue Commissioners. What is worrying is that the OECD lists four criteria for tax havens, and in Ireland, foreign landlords now meet three of those four criteria. I have two questions. First, does the Taoiseach agree that property companies in Ireland should pay taxes on the profits they make in Ireland? Second, does the Taoiseach agree that investment funds availing of tax avoidance mechanisms in this country should have to file publicly accessible accounts?

I thank Deputy Donnelly for his comments and question. I acknowledge his assistance with the Finance Act and other matters, particularly with section 110, which the Deputy raised and to which some changes were made and brought about in this House. I recall the comments that were made at the US Senate committee indicating that Ireland was alleged to be a tax haven. That was later disproved and commented upon. I am aware of the action taken by Brazil. Ireland is not the first country that that has been applied to. We reject that as well. In respect of the Deputy's comments on the international trade treaties, corporation tax is a matter for each individual country. National competence is enshrined in the European treaties. The Deputy is right that this is Ireland's business. In respect of the profit-sharing issue the Deputy raised, he also referred to the third charge which was about tax incentives to avoid paying tax. There was an appeal lodged by the Attorney General on behalf of the Government in respect of a finding or ruling made by the European Commission in this regard.

Irish collective asset management vehicles, or ICAVs, as they are called, are one of a range of legal structures which regulated collective investment schemes can take. Others include investment limited partnerships, common contractual funds, unit trusts and investment companies. Of these, only the investment companies are obliged to publish their accounts in accordance with the Companies Act. ICAVs are still obliged to keep proper books of accounts that must be audited and be made available to persons who have a right to inspect the accounts, including the competent authorities for investment funds, which are the Central Bank of Ireland and the Revenue Commissioners. Failure by the directors of an ICAV to ensure this happens is subject to very serious consequences, including the possibility of prosecution and administrative sanction. I have also noticed that ICAVs are subject to additional layers of regulation that most other companies are not. These are not only additional domestic rules but European rules that also apply to such structures under the requirements imposed by the undertaking for collective investment of transferable securities, UCITS, directive and the alternative investment fund managers, AIFM, directive.

In the Finance Act, the Minister for Finance also made changes to the taxation of Irish funds that hold Irish real estate. Irish real estate funds must deduct a 20% withholding tax or certain property distributions to non-resident investors. The legislation there addresses the concerns raised regarding the use of fund vehicles to invest in Irish property. The Finance Act also introduced legislation to address concerns that had been raised by Deputy Donnelly in respect of the section 110 regime whereby some investors minimise their Irish tax liabilities on Irish property transactions. This will close off the unintended use of the section 110 regime for Irish property transactions.

The Irish funds industry is obviously a key part of the internationally traded financial services sector, often referred to as the IFSC. Some 12,500 people are employed directly and indirectly, both in Dublin and in a number of locations throughout the country. There is some €2 trillion of assets under the management of funds in Dublin. The sector services a further €2 trillion in assets domiciled elsewhere. This area of IFSC remains by some margin its biggest sector of employment. Clearly, the funds may be structured in different ways, as the Deputy has pointed out. The Minister has moved in the Finance Act to address two issues-----

The Taoiseach is totally taking advantage of the time allotted.

-----relating to the misuse of certain vehicles that were being used for Irish property transactions.

I call Deputy Donnelly. The Taoiseach must comply with the time limits as well.

Let me give the Taoiseach an example. Cerberus has just filed its 2015 accounts for Project Eagle. By my reckoning, it made about £168 million in taxable profits and paid less than £1,600 in tax. That is a 0.001% tax rate. I acknowledge the very significant moves by the Government in the Finance Act on companies under section 110. What is interesting about the Project Eagle accounts is that Cerberus has moved about half of the assets out of section 110, because section 110 companies have to file publicly accessible accounts. The only reason vulture funds were shut down was because Deputies in this House, journalists and Senators were able to see them and raise this issue. They could not hide the amount of tax that was being avoided. However, about half of what came under section 110, hundreds of millions of pounds of assets, has been moved out of it. We have no idea where it has gone. If it has gone into a qualified investment fund, an ICAV or one of these, we will no longer be able to see what is being done with it. That is the core of my question. The Taoiseach stated to Deputy O'Sullivan that we have nothing to hide in Ireland. I agree. Were I or another Member to table a Bill stating that these funds, ICAVs and qualifying investor funds, QIFs, in particular, had to file publicly accessible accounts, would the Taoiseach look upon it on favourably?

As I said, I acknowledge the fact the Deputy raised section 110 on a number of occasions, which was a subject of quite intensive discussion and change during the passage of the Finance Act. The second of the changes the Minister brought in related to the Irish fund vehicles. The Finance Act provides for the introduction of a tax regime for Irish real estate funds, or IREFs. That legislation will ensure the Irish tax base is appropriately protected, where Irish funds are used to hold Irish real estate. The key feature, as the Deputy knows, is that an IREF is a fund in which 25% or more of the value of the fund is made up of Irish real estate assets. Any rental income or development profits earned by that IREF will be included in the calculation of its profits.

Capital gains will be included in the calculation of profits unless the asset is held for five years or more, except where the investor can influence or control the IRF. Where an IRF makes a distribution, non-resident investors will be subject to a withholding tax of 20%.

I am not saying that everything has been done here in terms of dealing with the issues that Deputy Donnelly raises. I do not have the details regarding Cerberus, as mentioned by him. Clearly, this is a matter in which the Minister for Finance has taken an interest and he has moved to change the law to make it more open, accountable and transparent where that is necessary. I am sure if further changes have to be made, he would be willing to do that too.

If Leaders or the Taoiseach need more time, then we will have to consider that by way of an amendment to Standing Orders. I have to consider all Members of the House who require an opportunity to ask questions on promised legislation, which we will deal with in a moment. Before that, I understand that the Taoiseach wishes to make an announcement.

I wish to make a short correction. On 6 December last, in response to a question from Deputy Micheál Martin on the case of the murder of Brian Stack, I said that it was "beyond comprehension that a Member of the House can drive someone in a van with blacked out windows to meet another person to talk about who had shot his father, that the names are given to the Garda Commissioner and that the son of the murdered man says he did not supply the names". I received a letter from Deputy Gerry Adams saying that I should correct the Dáil record. I now do so. I understand from the statements made by Deputy Adams himself that he drove the Stack brothers in his own car to a point where they then travelled in a blacked out van, in which I assume he was the passenger. I wish to correct the record of the Dáil to the effect that Deputy Adams did not drive the blacked out van but he did travel in it.