Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Public Sector Pay

Mairéad Farrell


85. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the negotiations for a new public service stability agreement, PSSA; the date formal negotiations took place; and the expected date for their completion. [36717/20]

The PSSA, the current public sector pay deal, is due to run out at the end of this year. I have raised concerns with the Minister previously about what appears to be a lack of progress on a new deal. This must be prioritised by the Minister and the Government. Will the Minister advise what the status of these negotiations is, the date on which formal negotiations took place and the expected date of their completion?

The current system of collective agreements has been in place in the public service since the Croke Park agreement was negotiated back in 2010. These collective agreements have helped to ensure that public pay is managed in a sustainable, affordable and orderly manner. These agreements have also enabled significant reform of public services and changes to work practices.

The current public service agreement, the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, has provided for benefits to different income groups, ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over three years, and up to 10% for new entrant members of the single public service pension scheme. At the end of the agreement, financial emergency measures in the public interest pay reductions were reversed for all public servants earning up to €70,000, which equates to almost 90% of public servants. In addition, an agreement under the framework of the PSSA was reached with the Irish Congress for Trade Unions, ICTU, in 2018 to deal with the issue of new entrant pay. The final pay adjustment of the current agreement was implemented as planned on 1 October last, with pay for public servants increased by 2%. Also on 1 October, fixed allowances were increased by between 5% and 8% as part of the unwinding of pay reductions set out under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.

The Government was determined to ensure the current agreement was honoured in full, not least in recognition of the contribution that public servants have made in supporting the country through this unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. As the Deputy is aware, I have instructed my officials to engage in exploratory talks with the public services committee of ICTU to establish if there is a basis for a successor agreement to the PSSA that would ensure pay stability, industrial peace and the delivery of quality public services. These exploratory discussions are ongoing. As the Deputy will appreciate, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the detail of those talks, which should remain confidential to the parties. These are difficult discussions taking place against a difficult backdrop but there is real value for both sides in having a deal and I sincerely hope one can be agreed.

I completely agree with the Minister. It is extremely important for both sides that we have a deal of this nature because it will provide stability in the delivery of public services in the first instance. Of equal importance is that it will provide a level of justice for workers. Public sector workers have been a significant part of the front-line workforce during this pandemic, as we have often mentioned in this Chamber, and they cannot be left behind. They deserve to have economic security and to know their jobs are not left in a precarious position. I hope the Government does not let this matter slide as it would be neglectful to do so. In this instance, the State is the employer and it needs to deal with it in a timely fashion. My other concern is that during this pandemic, we are greatly relying on the public services and I would hate to see unrest as a result of a failure to reach an agreement. Is the Minister giving a commitment to do everything in his power to ensure a deal is reached?

What I can commit to is that the Government will do all it can to reach agreement. There are significant discussions under way and I am describing them as exploratory in nature. As the Deputy knows from experience, the way these things work is that if the parties feel there is a possible landing zone, they will enter into a more formal set of negotiations. I hope we can get there quite quickly. The current agreement expires at the end of the year. We need to strike a balance in this. We must recognise the immense value of the work of our public servants, and I echo the Deputy's comments in that regard. However, there is also an economic reality and a difficult backdrop that we are all living with. That has clearly impacted on the economy and our public finances. There is, however, real value in having a deal. The public service pay bill for next year of close to €22 billion amounts to approximately 30% of overall expenditure. I want to achieve an agreement and I hope one can be achieved in the weeks ahead.

I hear the Minister referring to "an economic reality" but the State is the employer in this instance and it is important that it gives some security to these workers. I would also be concerned if a deal is reached at the eleventh hour because we know that such a deal needs to be debated and voted on by all the public sector workers across this State. This is a lengthy process in normal times and it is an even more difficult process in these times. I am wary that we will have a scenario where a deal is done at the last minute when there was time to work on this issue months ago. We have known for years that this agreement would run out at the end of December 2020. I understand that the Minister was only appointed in the summer but he will have been acutely aware that this was coming down the line. It should have been a priority for the Department. These agreements are usually agreed with months to spare because they may not be ratified initially, which means that parties have to come back to the negotiating table. It also means that everyone gets a fair turn of hearing exactly what the situation is. If there was to be a second round of negotiations, it would be unfair for the employer to leave these workers, who have given so much during the pandemic, in such a precarious position.

The State is a good employer, and the State has been a good employer during the Covid-19 pandemic. That is, of course, a reflection of the work our public servants have been doing. We now have a public service with around 346,000 people working within it. As part of the budget which we brought forward last month, we have provided for an increase in the number of people employed across the public service of the order of 22,000, with the majority of those being in the area of health, given the decision we made to permanently increase the capacity in our health service.

These are not, however, normal times. It requires two parties to negotiate and, ultimately, reach an agreement. I am conscious that time is tight between now and the end of the year. As the Deputy is aware, just last month we honoured the final leg of the public service stability agreement, PSSA. The exploratory talks are at a pretty intensive stage. It will become clear reasonably shortly, hopefully, as to whether there is a basis for meaningful and formal talks at official level. If those talks do take place they can, potentially, be concluded quickly. Then, as the Deputy said, a process of ratification is required, and I am conscious of that. I am also factoring that into the timeline.

Lobbying Regulation

Gerald Nash


86. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he plans to introduce legislation to enhance section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015; his views on whether a breach of the section by former Ministers or relevant public officials should be made an offence; his further views on whether sanctions proposed in legislation (details supplied) should be included in any legislation proposing to deal with the matter of public policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36579/20]

Mairéad Farrell


89. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the further measures being planned in terms of amendments to the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 in view of his recent statement that he was planning fines and criminal sanctions for Deputies and Ministers that breach the cooling off period and become lobbyists shortly after leaving political life. [36719/20]

This day two weeks ago, I introduced the Regulation of Lobbying (Post-Term Employment as Lobbyist) Bill 2020. It was heartening to see the Minister, in The Sunday Times two Sundays ago, publicly endorse all the measures contained in that Bill, including the proposal to introduce fines of €2,500 and the threat of imprisonment for former Ministers or senior officials who may be found in the future to be in breach of section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. We know that lobbying and advocacy is a fact of life and a feature of democracy and good decision-making. The test is how transparently, openly and accountably that is to be done. Given that the Minister now seems committed to reform in this area, when can we expect to see the package of reforms which he intends to bring to this House?

As Deputy Nash mentioned, there were reports recently that the Minister is planning on working on legislation relevant to this situation, and that he is planning on having fines and criminal sanctions for Ministers and Deputies who would breach this legislation and become lobbyists shortly after leaving political life. What other measures are being considered in respect of amendments to the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015?

I thank Deputies Nash and Mairéad Farrell for their questions. I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 89 together.

Section 22 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 provides that certain designated public officials, the lobbied, are restricted from being engaged in lobbying in certain circumstances for a year after they leave their employment or office, unless they have obtained permission from the Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO. In effect, they are subject to a one year “cooling-off” period.

The general purpose of section 22 is to manage the potential for conflicts of interest between the public and private sectors and to place restrictions on what is often referred to as a “revolving door” between the public and private sectors. The Taoiseach outlined in the Dáil recently that section 22 of the Act should be reviewed by my Department and this review is under way. The review will include: seeking and considering the advice of the Office of the Attorney General on a range of possible enforcement provisions to be applied in respect of section 22; consultation with, and consideration of, the views of the SIPO; review of recent Bills published regarding the matter, including that published by Deputy Nash; and reflection on relevant proposals already made in public submissions to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of either the first review, in 2017, or second statutory review, in 2020, in respect of the Act.

This is a complex matter. Any amendment to section 22 must factor in issues such as the rights of a person to work and the proportionality of any sanctions that may be imposed. Sufficient time is required to allow for full consideration and deliberation, prior to any decision and subsequent actions being taken. The Deputies have identified the key issue. It is the lack of enforcement provisions regarding section 22, and I am committed to acting on that issue. I look forward, once the review is complete, to bringing proposals to Government and then to the House.

That needs to be done urgently. Time and again, SIPO, in its annual reports, has pointed out the lacuna that currently exists in section 22 of the Act. SIPO needs the power to initiate investigations. A range of things must be done to ensure confidence and trust in politics, and that involves empowering SIPO, reforming the organisation and giving that important watchdog sufficient teeth.

My party, as the Minister will know, back in the 1990s and between 2011 and 2016, made great strides to take big money out of politics. We see now, however, that those laws are being sidelined by some parties which are moving money from one jurisdiction to another, and sidestepping Irish law. That is deeply unfair and it is an issue that must be addressed. We must look at ethics and the conduct of politics in this country in the round and holistically.

I propose that when we are reviewing ethics legislation that we need to do that in concert with the establishment, for example, of the electoral commission. Those issues need to be looked at side by side. This is an urgent matter. We must have a level playing field in respect of how politics is conducted. We do not have that now, and the Minister must be conscious of that when he is crafting new legislation to address all these urgent issues facing this polity.

I thank Deputy Nash for those points. The direct issue which has been raised in these priority questions concerns section 22 and the fact that a breach of that section is a breach of a statutory provision in the Act, but it is not currently sanctionable. I believe that is an issue which requires change. In working on this issue in recent weeks, I have gone back to look at why there was no provision for that within the legislation originally. I have seen remarks from the then Minister, Deputy Howlin, when he brought in this legislation.

He stated at the time:

The imposition of restriction on post-term employment as a lobbyist on relevant designated public officials must be proportionate and practical because people have constitutional rights. One of the most difficult things is to narrow or circumscribe people's right to work, which is what this provision does.

Advice was given at that time by the then Attorney General. I have gone back and looked at that advice, and I have got my own advice as well. I am working my way through that now. We want to have a scenario where people can come into politics or public service, and then leave politics or public service and carry on with their careers. That must not be in a manner, however, where one day a person can be lobbied and then the next day he or she can be the lobbyist in respect of the people for whom he or she worked for previously. That is not something which I want to see happen and I am committed to addressing that situation.

I thank the Minister for the comprehensive response. I am very aware of the advice the then Minister, Deputy Howlin, received back in 2015. That is important, and we need to balance those rights when we are approaching this legislation. The Minister, however, is absolutely right. We have seen, on far too many occasions, the revolving door system in play and that affects and impacts on trust and confidence in politics and in these institutions. The Minister is absolutely right about that aspect. Confidence and trust in politics and the political system is absolutely imperative now. It is always important, but it is particularly important now when we see movements, right across the world, challenging politics and challenging how we do politics. There must be trust in our institutions. Our laws need to be updated to reflect some modern-day realities.

I thank the Minister for his response again. We must be mindful as well that all of this must be done holistically. I accept that we cannot simply just cherry pick certain aspects of our ethics legislation. This must be looked at in the round. I also ask the Minister to look at this area in the context of the work ongoing regarding the programme for Government commitment on a new electoral commission. All these issues must be looked at in their totality.

The Minister will be aware that his predecessor conducted two reviews in respect of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 and found that no changes needed to be made, despite SIPO raising 22 amendments in 2016 and 2019.

SIPO clearly stated earlier this year that it was deeply disappointed by this and that it needs greater enforcement powers. I welcome that the Minister mentioned these powers. Realistically, in this year this matter really has come to a head. Public confidence is at an all-time low. We need to very clearly and categorically state that we are closing the door between Government and vested interests. It is extremely important that we to do this. Will the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform look at the previous recommendations from SIPO when making these amendments?

I have read all of that material already and I am of course going to take it into account. I have been looking at what the record has been in the context of how many people have been applying to SIPO for exemptions from section 22. The numbers are quite low, but that does not mean they are insignificant. They relate primarily to special advisers. In 2020, there were six applications. In 201,9 there were two applications for special advisers. In 2018, there were two applications for special advisers. In 2017, there were five applications received, three of which were for special advisers, one was for a senior civil servant in a Department and one for an official in a Department. In 2016, two applications were received, one of which was for a special adviser and one for an official on a local authority. As it happens, none were from former public representatives. This is not to say that some should not have, an issue on we are all very much aware given recent developments.

On Deputy Nash's point, there is a need for a wider review of ethics legislation. The Deputy will be aware that SIPO has responsibility for: the Ethics in Public Office Act; the Electoral Act 1997, which deals with the key issue of political financing, political donations and election expenses; the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014 in the context of the use of public funds by political parties and independents; and the Act we have been discussing here, the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015. We are committed to a complete review of ethics legislation and I want to engage with all parties on that.

As I mentioned, since I have been elected - but I am not saying that the two things coincide - we have seen public confidence damaged by the events surrounding golfgate, the case of a former Minister and with the recent leaking of a confidential document. All of these instances have had a real impact on public confidence in politics.

I am glad to hear that the Minister is genuinely concerned about the weaknesses in our lobbying legislation. My colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, and I will also bring forward a Bill which will give expression to many of the requests for extended powers that SIPO has made over many years with regard to lobbying. I hope the Minister will support that legislation. This country really needs a new departure when it comes to standards and ethics in public life. I believe that our Bill will be the first step on that journey.

I look forward to reading the legislation the Deputies intend to bring forward. Two statutory reviews of the 2015 Act have been conducted. A decision was made not to bring forward any legislative amendments in response to those reviews. In reviewing this particular issue, it is important to look back at the statutory reviews and the other information in the public domain, as well as the advice from the Attorney General. There is a need for balance. We need to have a situation whereby people feel they can enter politics or take on a role on a short-term basis as a senior public official and have the capacity to return to their former lives in the private sector, or whatever it may be, and continue with their careers. People can make a contribution at different stages of their life and this mobility enhances politics. It cannot be done in a way whereby people are using the position they very recently held to exercise influence over the system they were part of. That is the issue I will deal with.

Departmental Offices

Róisín Shortall


88. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the error on the part of the Office of Public Works, OPW, in calculating the rent for the Department of Health facility at Miesian Plaza was discovered; when the rental payment was revised; the reason for any gap between discovery and revision; the steps that will be taken to recoup the rent; the reason for delays in recouping the overpayment of €10 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37048/20]

I wish to raise the issue of the exposure of the State to a potential overspend or overpayment of rent for a complex, Miesian Plaza on Baggot Street, which has been rented for use by a number of Departments, and the failure to date to recoup the over payment of rent. Perhaps the Minister of State could provide an update on exactly what action is being taken.

Miesian Plaza provides modern, efficient, headquarter office accommodation for the Departments of Health and Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, as well as ancillary accommodation for the Departments of Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform. At approximately 14,000 sq. m, Miesian Plaza is one of Dublin’s most significant Government accommodation locations and one of the first leadership in energy and environmental design, LEED, buildings in Ireland, which is a third-party verification system for green buildings meeting best international energy efficiency and environmental standards. Miesian Plaza provides modern, energy-efficient, fourth generation office space for almost 950 workstations. It has allowed the occupying Departments to move from a cellular working environment to one that is modern and collaborative.

The rent being paid by the OPW in respect of the offices at Block 1, Miesian Plaza is in accordance with the terms of the lease and therefore has not been revised since the lease commenced. An ambiguity around the measurement standard used as a basis for the rent calculation at Miesian Plaza was first identified during the course of an internal OPW review and, subsequently, in an examination by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the lease process in early 2018. Since the issue was identified, the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland have continued to engage with the landlord regarding the measurement standard applied. At the most recent meeting, the landlord requested some time to consider the matters discussed and undertook to revert to the OPW. It is expected that communication with the landlord will be ongoing to enable final resolution of any outstanding matters.

That response is quite unsatisfactory. The potential exposure for the State as a result of a mistake that was made in measuring the floor space at that complex is €10 million. The Minister of State indicated that this is one of the most significant developments, which it may be, but it is also one of the most expensive. It is utterly unacceptable to have a situation where a mistake was made, that this was identified by the Chief State Solicitor's office in 2016 and that the lease was subsequently signed in January 2017. That is very difficult to understand and we need an explanation for it. More than anything, we need to ensure that negotiations are being actively pursued in respect of this overpayment.

The Minister of State said that there was a meeting with the landlord and that this company was to come back to the State in January. Ten months later, this has not happened. What is the current state of the negotiations?

It is important to point out that we are dealing with a 25-year lease. From the very start, the OPW has said that a mistake was made. The OPW has never, to any degree, stated that it has not acknowledged that a mistake was made. It is important to put on the record of the House that the total amount in question of the difference, when calculated over a 25-year period, is €8.6 million. The VAT on top of that it would be €1.9 million. The OPW is anxious to point out that this is a 25-year lease. We estimate that the discussions we are having with the landlord would allow for an opportunity for recoupment to be made.

As Deputy Shortall pointed out, there continue to be discussions, the most recent having taken place with chairman of the OPW, and he referred to this at the meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts last week. Ongoing dialogue in this area will continue. I have spoken to the commissioners in respect of the matter. To be honest, it is not satisfactory and we do not accept that it is satisfactory. We have put new protocols in place within the Department to make sure that a subsequent error of this nature cannot happen again. I accept what Deputy Shortall said.

With all due respect, for the Minister of State to say that it is not satisfactory is quite an understatement in light of the amount of public money involved. The Minister of State indicated that the OPW has acknowledged the mistake. It had no choice but to acknowledge the mistake. The OPW made the mistake. I am concerned about the €10 million of taxpayers' money for which the Minister of State has responsibility. It is the case, as I understand it, that the developer is ten months late in responding to the request to renegotiate.

What is the current situation? Has there been any contact with the owner and landlord of that premises since last January? What recourse does the State now have if the landlord does not come back within a reasonable time? How does the Minister of State intend to safeguard that €10 million of taxpayers' money?

It is important to point out that the landlord has done nothing wrong here.

He has accepted the overpayment.

This was a mistake that was made on the State's side. The State has acknowledged that but it also acknowledges that this is a long-term lease and we are hopeful that, by negotiation, the liability to the State will be minimised. We have also acknowledged that it is a 25-year lease and there is no duty upon the landlord to come back to us at the moment. It is not a matter of negotiation. It is a matter of looking at this in the round of 25 years to see how we can come to an accommodation with our landlord. It is not in our interests or the landlord's interests not do that, given that the Government may very well have additional office accommodation requirements over the next while that will need to be facilitated. I am hopeful that by negotiation and over the 25-year period we are talking about, the maximum liability to the State as it currently stands, which is €8.6 million plus VAT of €1.9 million, can be reduced to a satisfactory amount. It is not satisfactory as it is and I am not here to make any excuses. The Chairman of the OPW has not done so either. We admit that there was a serious mistake here and we have put protocols in place to make sure it does not happen again. We cannot undo the mistake and I cannot say that the landlord has done anything wrong. He absolutely has not. This is a liability that accrues to the State and we are trying to make sure we minimise it through negotiation and dialogue.

We must go back to Deputy Mairéad Farrell's question-----

I am sorry but Deputy Shortall said my response was shocking. My response was factual.

The Minister of State said he was hopeful. Being hopeful is not enough when €10 million is involved.

Deputy, please. The Minister of State has responded and that is it. As we missed Deputy Mairéad Farrell's Question No. 87, we will now go back to it.

National Development Plan

Mairéad Farrell


87. Deputy Mairéad Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures that will be taken by the review to renew the national development plan, which will look to incorporate an independent peer review at two key points in the life of a contact worth over €10 million in order to ensure that successful tender bids are coming in on cost. [36712/20]

The Aire recently launched the Review to Renew consultation on the national development plan, NDP. I understand that this will incorporate an independent peer review at two key points in the life of a contract worth over €10 million, to ensure successful tender bids are coming in on cost. As cost overruns have been something of a problem in large public procurement contracts, can the Minister please advise what measures will be taken as part of this independent peer review to ensure contracts come in on cost?

In order to ensure programme for Government priorities are achieved and to respond to the unprecedented impact of Covid-19, it is timely now for the Government to bring forward the previously planned review of the NDP and to consider the most important challenges facing us, including climate action, housing, balanced regional development, healthcare, social welfare policy, transport, education, and the associated resourcing requirements.

As one of the work streams of the review of the NDP, the national investment office in my Department is developing a new governance and assurance process for major projects with an estimated cost of over €100 million. Delivering greater value for money in the expenditure of public funds is a key element of all public capital investment policy. The majority of capital projects are delivered on time and on budget and there is a high level of professionalism across the sectors.

Following last year’s update of the public spending code, and in line with the principle of proportionality, the process for smaller projects in the public spending code has been streamlined and the process for larger projects supports a better consideration of options, risks, costs and deliverability. However, that update, combined with lessons learned from domestic projects and international best practice, highlighted the need for more structured scrutiny of major public investment projects, particularly in the areas of planned delivery, costing and risk.

Major public investment projects are considered to be those with an estimated project cost in excess of €100 million and there are over 40 projects in this category in the NDP. All the evidence shows that the greatest impact on improving project outcomes comes from careful project preparation and that external reviews from an independent party can be instrumental in enabling good project and investment governance.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

The new process is being informed by international practice and consultation with public sector stakeholders. It will involve an independent peer review of two key stages in the project life cycle for major projects, specifically, when the preferred delivery option is chosen and before approval is given to go to tender. The reviews will be conducted by experts in infrastructure delivery and will draw on international expertise where relevant.

The reviews will consider key issues, including robustness of planned delivery, accuracy of cost forecasts, consideration of risk and appropriateness of procurement strategies. External reviews of major projects will mean the Government making decisions with a full picture of the proposal, including its costs, risks and benefits. The detail of the process and arrangements for implementation will be delivered by summer 2021 with the review of the national development plan.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire. That is interesting. Getting value for money is very important in the area of public procurement. We often hear talk of the supposed cost efficiencies of the market relative to the public sector, yet many of the large cost overruns come from large public procurement capital projects. The national children's hospital is a noteworthy example but 35 out of 38 health and education projects nationwide ran over the agreed contract price, which is an issue the Minister raised during his time in opposition. Given that price is generally the deciding factor in the awarding of contracts for large capital projects, will this review examine abnormally low contract bids or lowball offers with a view to ascertaining whether there is a relationship between successful low-cost tenders and large cost overruns? If such a relationship were shown to exist, this would indicate that increased regulation is also required for low-cost contracts, as such bids could be a precursor to cost overruns.

The key objective is to introduce a degree of external assurance for major projects. As part of the review of the NDP, we are producing a range of research and technical papers, which will be published before the end of this year or early next year. That will feed into the process of adopting a revised NDP in the second quarter of next year. In essence, we are proposing an independent peer review of two key stages in the project life cycle for major projects, specifically, when the preferred delivery option is chosen and before approval is given to go to tender. These reviews will be conducted by experts in infrastructure delivery and will draw on international expertise where relevant.

Again, that is interesting and I would like to get more information on it so perhaps the Minister can send that on to me. How will the independent peer review process itself, and the Government's interaction with it, be decided? As the Minister has stated it could involve people from different countries and so on, how will the make-up of the independent peer review be decided? Where will the reports from the review process be sent or made available? Will they be sent to the chief procurement officer and if so, will he have powers to intervene? What will the Minister's role be in all of this? If companies had a track record of abnormally low tender bids and cost overruns, would they be excluded from future tender processes? That may be a separate point.

There will be a specific paper on this issue, which will be one of the outputs from phase 1 of the review of the NDP. In broad terms, I am a strong believer that time spent at the project preparation stage is time well spent, by ensuring the project has been comprehensively appraised and assessed, that the potential pitfalls have been identified in advance and that the design work is essentially complete. We are proposing that, at key decision points in the process and before we press the final button and commit significant public funds to a project, we ask outside parties and external people with expertise in this area to have a look at projects and make sure that the process has been robust. They will feed that into the final decision, which will be ultimately be made by the Government, on projects with a cost in excess of €100 million.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 86.