Brexit Negotiations

Ceisteanna (111)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

111. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the post-Brexit relationship talks planned as part of the December 2019 Foreign Affairs Council meeting; his policy objectives for same; and if he has met his officials to discuss same. [51850/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The future relationship between the UK and the EU will be discussed at the European Council on 13 December, but was not an item for discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council. It is expected that the European Council will adopt Conclusions on preparations for the negotiations on the future relationship with the UK post 31 January 2020.

While awaiting the outcome of the UK General Election, the EU is preparing for the upcoming negotiations on the future relationship. The EU has indicated it is ready to open negotiations immediately after ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. These will aim at a broad, deep and flexible EU-UK partnership – with a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement at its core. To this end, the Commission has established the Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom, led by Michel Barnier, which will coordinate the Commission’s work on Brexit and establishing the future relationship with the UK. The Task Force will also look at necessary work on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement during the transition period.

Ireland wants to see the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK, while also ensuring adequate level playing field provisions to facilitate fair competition. Work is underway on and elaborating on our priorities for the future relationship negotiations.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (112)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

112. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives that highlight schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of his Department, including advertising and promotion on television, radio, newspapers and online in tabular form; and the level of expenditure for each such initiative. [52119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade engages in public awareness advertising campaigns where there is important information that needs to be brought to the attention of the public. In that regard, two significant campaigns took place in 2019 and will be ongoing in 2020; the new “Passport Online” campaign and the “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” campaign.

In the case of the former, the objective is to build continual awareness of the Online Passport Service for Irish citizens, which is now expanding to include children and first time adult applications. This campaign has a multi-faceted approach, including promotion on social media platforms, national and regional print and broadcast media, and outdoor advertising. Expenditure to date in 2019 on this campaign is approximately €564,000.

Expenditure on the “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” Public Information campaign was approximately €1.5 million in 2019. While the costs of the 2019 campaign were borne by my Department, this is a whole of Government campaign prepared and executed in partnership with other Government Departments and Agencies, in particular, the Department of the Taoiseach. The public information campaign will continue pending the outcome of the General Election in the United Kingdom and subsequent political developments and decisions. Campaign details and projected expenditure in this area will be made available once those plans have been finalised.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (113)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

113. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video that highlighted schemes and programmes operated by his Department in tabular form; if such videos have been commissioned for 2020; and if so, the estimated costs of each such video. [52136/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department primarily uses videography to augment information campaigns that promote Ireland’s economic, political and cultural interests and to engage with the Global Irish community. In 2019, campaigns that included video production and promotion were the Rugby World Cup in Japan, the Global Programme for St. Patrick’s Day and ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready.’

My Department uses in-house resources for videos whenever possible. Otherwise, my Department procures the services of external agencies via the updated Multi-Supplier Framework Agreement for the provision of Professional Photography and Videography, which is centrally operated through the Office of Government Procurement.

The cost of video production and promotion to my Department for events which took place in 2019 to date is listed in Table 1 below.

St Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a unique opportunity to engage with the global Irish community and to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests overseas, with levels of publicity and media attention unmatched by the National Day of any other country. This year’s programme had the largest number of countries ever visited for St. Patrick’s Day. The Taoiseach and I, along with 13 Ministers, 19 Ministers of State, the Attorney General, Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach visited 56 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. These programmes allowed us to promote trade, investment and tourism with Ireland, to increase visibility in new markets, and to promote our values and our influence in global institutions, notably in support of our campaign to become a member of the United Nations Security Council. It also allowed us to deepen our connections with Irish people and friends of Ireland all over the world.

Team Ireland overseas delivered a total of 1,796 events in support of Ireland’s interest over the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period in this context. To coincide with and complement these activities, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to online promotion of an accompanying St. Patrick’s Day video as outlined in Table 1 below.

Global Ireland: Ireland’s Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025 and Global Ireland Summit

‘Global Ireland’ is an all-of-Government programme which aims to double Ireland’s impact in the world by 2025. The programme was launched by the Taoiseach and myself and Ministers Humphreys, Madigan and McEntee in June 2018 and sets out Ireland’s ambitions in relation to how we trade, the bilateral and multilateral partnerships that we seek to build and our wider contribution to the world.

Global Ireland: Ireland's Strategy for the US and Canada 2019–2025 is Ireland's first whole-of-Government strategy for the US and Canada. Its aim is for Ireland to build strong, strategic political partnerships with the US and Canada and assume a lead role in building stronger transatlantic relations.

To coincide with the programme of St. Patrick ’s Day-related activities held there earlier this year, my Department incurred a small amount of expenditure in relation to the production and online promotion of a video which outlined the Strategy’s key objectives insofar as the US is concerned.

In July, to mark the 1st anniversary of the launch of Global Ireland programme, my Department held the Global Ireland Summit in Dublin Castle. At the Summit it was announced that Ireland plans to double its impact in the Asia Pacific region, as part of the next phase of Global Ireland 2025. The Taoiseach and I, as well as Government Ministers, Ambassadors and key stakeholders addressed the Summit. To coincide with this event a video was produced and promoted via social media.

Common Travel Area - ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’

Irish and British citizens will still be able to move freely, live and work between the two countries. This video was shared across social media and Ireland, the UK and the EU all agree that the Common Travel Area will continue in all circumstances.

2019 Rugby World Cup

In 2019 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade coordinated a multi-agency promotional campaign to promote Ireland as a great place to invest, study, trade with, and visit during the Japan Rugby World Cup. This collaborative Team Ireland promotional campaign was a digital-led effort in the Japanese language to raise the visibility of Ireland amongst a Japanese audience at the Rugby World Cup and to win business for Ireland.

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world. It is Ireland’s 11th largest trading partner, and is the largest source of foreign direct investment into Ireland from the Asia Pacific region. The Rugby World Cup presented a significant opportunity to increase awareness about Ireland and to build a positive reputation for Ireland in Japan. This Global Ireland integrated Japanese language initiative successfully increased Ireland’s reach in Japan and is supporting the development of a stronger economic partnership with Japan. The digital resources developed will continue to be drawn on by Team Ireland in its ongoing promotion efforts in the country.

Campaign detail

Total

Global Ireland: St Patrick's Day

€18,526.50

Global Ireland: Ireland's Strategy for the US and Canada

€ 5,047.00

Global Ireland Summit video

€ 8,579.25

Global Ireland: Rugby World Cup Ireland promotion video

€ 45,180.29

Getting Ireland Brexit Ready, Common Travel Area video

€12,238.50

Help-To-Buy Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (114)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

114. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the first-time buyers help to buy incentive scheme to cover second-hand houses and apartments and not just new builds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51925/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

An increase in the supply of new housing is fundamental to resolving the current crisis; one of the main aims of HTB is to help encourage the building of additional new properties. By restricting HTB solely to new dwellings and new self builds, the resulting increase in demand for affordable new build homes encourages the construction of an additional supply of such properties. If the HTB were also available for second-hand properties, it would limit the incentive effect on the provision of additional supply.

I have no plans to extend the Help to Buy incentive (HTB) to second-hand properties.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Ceisteanna (115)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

115. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of illicit tobacco products and-or non-Irish-paid tobacco here in tabular form; the percentage of these products that are cigarettes, illicit whites or counterfeit; the relevant applicable breakdown for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51957/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it jointly conducts an annual survey with the HSE’s Office of Tobacco Control to provide an estimate of the level of illegal tobacco usage in Ireland.

Based on the annual survey results, the information requested by the Deputy for the years 2009 to 2018 is available on the Revenue website at link: https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/research/tobacco-products-research-results-2018.pdf.

Results from the 2019 survey, which is currently in progress, are expected to be published in the first half of 2020.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

Ceisteanna (116)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

116. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether it is appropriate for the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman to acknowledge and respond to routine representations from Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas; if the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman is obliged to have a dedicated email address for Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas to make representations on behalf of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51973/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is independent in the performance of his statutory functions. I have no role in the day to day workings of the office or in the decisions which he takes.

The Ombudsman has informed me that the FSPO adheres to the framework set out in the "Protocol for the Provision of Information to Members of the Oireachtas by State Bodies under the aegis of Government Departments/Offices" – circular 25/2016.

I understand that the FSPO wrote to all members of the Houses of the Oireachtas informing them of the Protocol for the Provision of Information to Members of the Oireachtas by State Bodies and providing a dedicated email address for the timely provision of information to members of the Oireachtas. The e-mail address for Members of the Oireachtas is oireachtas@fspo.ie.

On the issue more generally, the FSPO acknowledges and responds to representations from members of the Houses of the Oireachtas and has communicated with Deputies asking various question on a number of occasions.

It should be noted that due to data protection legalisation the FSPO cannot discuss the details of a complaint with any person other than the party to the complaint without written authorisation of the party to the complaint.

The FSPO welcomes and encourages feedback on the services it provides. There is a wealth of information on its website www.fspo.ie. In addition, its Publication Scheme has been prepared under Section 8 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 2014. It is designed to facilitate the provision of information to the greatest extent possible, except for information exempted under the FOI Act. Under the FOI legislation, the FSPO cannot comment on individual complaints.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (117)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

117. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of reintroducing the tax relief for trade union subscriptions based on 2010 figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52001/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The following table sets out details of the cost of the tax relief for trade union subscriptions in the seven years immediately prior to its end, including 2010 (in which year, the measure cost some €26 million):

Year

Cost (€ million)

No. of Claims

2004

10.7

248,300

2005

11.8

272,100

2006

19.2

294,300

2007

20.7

316,300

2008

26.4

341,900

2009

26.7

345,800

2010

26

337,500

I am advised by Revenue that while these figures may not provide an accurate indicator of future costs of a new scheme, there is no other basis available to Revenue on which to estimate such costs.

Capital Allowances

Ceisteanna (118)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

118. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if accelerated capital allowances or other tax incentives are available for businesses that purchase and use newly manufactured fully electric mini-diggers; if the matter will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52021/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that an annual allowance (known as a wear and tear allowance) is available for capital expenditure incurred on the provision of machinery or plant for business purposes. The allowances are granted at a rate of 12.5% per annum over 8 year. The item of plant or machinery must be in use at the end of the period for which the allowance is being claimed.

An acceleration of this allowance is available to businesses for capital expenditure incurred on certain energy efficient equipment (EEE). An accelerated capital allowance (ACA) of 100% of the capital expenditure incurred on such equipment can be claimed for the year in which the equipment is first provided and used for business purposes. The qualifying equipment, which must be new, must be included in the Triple-E register, a register containing the product list for eligible energy-efficient equipment, maintained and published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The SEAI administers the ACA EEE scheme on behalf of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Its operation includes an online system which facilitates submissions of products by providers. Submissions are reviewed by a panel of technical experts (appointed by SEAI) who review the documentation supplied to ensure product performance meets published criteria. The expert panel engage directly with providers to resolve data or technical issues which may arise.

The register is available on the SEAI’s website (https://www.seai.ie/business-and-public-sector/business-grants-and-supports/accelerated-capital-allowance/). There are currently 10 broader product categories within the scheme which provides the framework for the register, as set out in Schedule 4A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. Electric mini diggers are not specifically listed, and more information would be required to ascertain whether their technological components are eligible for the accelerated allowance under the scheme.

I would also note that the ACA EEE scheme is due to be reviewed under my Department's tax expenditure guidelines in 2020, and this process will commence early next year.

Carbon Tax Implementation

Ceisteanna (119)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

119. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the legislative steps he is taking to ensure hypothecation of carbon tax revenues and ongoing allocation to climate-related expenditure; if his attention has been drawn to commitments set out in sections 6.6.3 and 6.8.3 of the 2019 report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action regarding the hypothecation of such revenues through legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52077/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In Budget 2020 I announced that the revenues from the increase in the carbon tax from €20 to €26 per tonne CO2 would be ring fenced and the funds used to:

- Protect the most vulnerable in society;

- A Just Transition; and

- Investing in low carbon transition

To this end, on 9 October 2019, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published "The carbon tax increase - what it will be spent on", which sets out specific details in relation to where the ringfenced monies will be going. This can be accessed at: https://assets.gov.ie/35942/a72c67a62786496686fa9257b3f6fa64.pdf.

These are increases that would not have taken place in the absence of an increase to the carbon tax and the increased funding is additional to that provided by the National Development Plan. All funds are ring-fenced for these schemes only. Departments will not be allowed to use the carbon tax revenues for any other purpose. This guarantees that all funds raised by the carbon tax will go towards climate action.

I am satisfied that this approach will enable the continued ringfencing of additional carbon tax revenues to just transition and climate mitigation areas in future years.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (120)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

120. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives that highlight schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of his Department including advertising and promotion on television, radio, newspapers and online in tabular form; and the level of expenditure for each such initiative. [52118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I can advise the Deputy that my Department has incurred the following expenses to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives which highlight schemes and programmes operated under its auspices:

Description

Amount

Provision of specialist advice on the use of social media in international contexts for the international launches of the Government of Ireland’s Ireland for Finance strategy. (Note: Contract does not cover any work by the contractor in implementing the communications strategy.)

€24,395.00

(Inc. VAT)

Webhosting for the Switch Your Bank* campaign.

€1,918.80

(Inc. VAT)

*The cost of the Switch your Bank campaign is fully recoupable by AIB and Permanent TSB in the context of their restructuring plans. These costs relate to a Public awareness campaign as part of a range of competition measures agreed with the European Commission to raise awareness and promote customer switching of financial products. The Department of Finance facilitates this campaign as part of its remit to ensure that consumers are protected within the financial sector in Ireland and to ensure a healthy level of competition.

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Ceisteanna (121)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

121. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video that highlighted schemes and programmes operated by his Department in tabular form; if such videos have been commissioned for 2020; and if so, the estimated costs of each such video. [52135/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

My Department has not incurred any expense to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video which highlighted schemes and programmes operated as no such video has been commissioned.

Furthermore, to date, there are no such videos commissioned by my Department for 2020.

Living Wage Expenditure

Ceisteanna (122)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

122. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of introducing a living wage of €12.30 per hour for all workers in the Civil Service. [51997/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The suggested wage at €12.30 per hour based on the Civil Service 37 hour standard net working week equates to an annual salary of €23,747.

Civil servants currently on an annual salary of less than €23,747 may be receiving remuneration in excess of the suggested living wage through additional premium payments in respect of shift or atypical working hours or are on salary scales that progress to the suggested living wage and above through incremental progression.

It should also be noted that in the context of the Living Wage, future pay increases under the Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020 include: 0.5% for those earning under €32,000 in January 2020 and 2% in October 2020.

Department data estimates that 0.3% of civil service staff are on salaries of less than €23,747. To bring them up to the living wage it would cost an estimated €452,348 (€407,705 plus 10.95% ER PRSI).

Living Wage Expenditure

Ceisteanna (123)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

123. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of introducing a living wage of €12.30 per hour for all workers in the public sector. [51998/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The suggested wage at €12.30 per hour based on the Civil Service 37 hour standard net working week equates to an annual salary of €23,747.

Public servants currently on an annual salary of less than €23,747 may be receiving remuneration in excess of the suggested living wage through additional premium payments in respect of shift or atypical working hours or are on salary scales that progress to the suggested living wage and above through incremental progression.

It should also be noted that in the context of the Living Wage, future pay increases under the Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020 include: 0.5% for those earning under €32,000 in January 2020 and 2% in October 2020.

The detailed costings sought in this request would require detailed data on the position of staff on each salary scale across the public service and details of the standard working hours per week for each individual grade. This data is not available to the Department.

Civil Service Staff Data

Ceisteanna (124)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

124. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons employed in the Civil Service. [51999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

There were 42,541 civil servants, including 1,509 civil service industrials, employed in the civil service on a full-time equivalent basis, as of end-September 2019, the most recent quarterly figures available.

Public Sector Staff Data

Ceisteanna (125)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

125. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons employed in the public sector. [52000/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

According to the most recent quarterly returns available, there were 337,720* public servants employed on a full-time equivalent basis in the public sector as of end-September 2019.

Civil Servants

41,032

Civil Service Industrials

1,509

Defence Sector

9,100

Education Sector

108,849

Health Sector

119,126

Justice Sector

14,554

Local Authorities

29,353

Non-Commercial State Agencies

14,197

* All figures rounded to nearest whole number.