Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.
This proposal is to insert an amendment into the Constitution to prevent any future Government from imposing levies of the sort we saw imposed by the last Government. The context here is the demographic time bomb. The State pension as we know it is gradually becoming more unsustainable. Currently, the ratio is one person over the age of 66 for every five people at work. Within the next 25 years, that ratio will reduce to 1:2. Therefore, it is imperative to encourage people to save to provide for themselves because, as I have said, the State will be increasingly unable to do so, certainly at the present rate. Imposing levies on private pensions does the exact opposite. It discourages people from saving rather than encouraging them.
Private pensions are the savings of hard-working individuals carefully put away over the years so that they can care for themselves in old age rather than being forced to rely solely on the State which, as I have said, will face increasing difficulty as the years go on. We should be encouraging people to save.
The levy introduced by the last Government undermined faith in pension savings. We should not be surprised that, as a result of that levy, the rate of people participating in private pensions as a proportion of that section of the population has dropped quite substantially. Irish people appreciate the need to save but they no longer trust the system, hence the need to ensure that such a smash-and-grab raid on pensions, which is exactly akin to dipping into somebody's deposit account, will not recur in the future, at least without the consent of the people. This is the objective that this legislation intends to achieve.