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Motor Tax Yield (Continued)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen]  In regard to the household charge fiasco last year and the manner in which the Department cut the Central Fund to local authorities on foot of the collection, or lack of, on the part of some local authorities, was the Minister not mindful at any time in the entire saga of the fact that many motorists had paid their motor tax and that they were not taken into consideration when he then saw fit to cut the budgets of local authorities, and in doing that saw fit to cut the funding available to local authorities to deal with secondary, primary and regional roads? Had the Minister not thought of them when he cut the funding? Did he not think about people telephoning radio stations this morning to report that no salt gritting had been applied to many roads throughout the country? They were not taken into consideration when the Minister made the decision to cut local authority funding in the manner in which he did. In my local authority, for example, this year more than €500,000 has been taken from a budget that it had agreed in good faith this time last year. I have no doubt it would have taken seriously its role in the collection of the household charge had it been properly organised, given proper notice, informed in time and given the support necessary in order to do it properly.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I will revert to the Deputy. The Minister of State must be given an opportunity to respond.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen The Minister took the motorists out of the equation when he made the decision.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd On a positive light, when people go to a Garda station to say that their car has not been driven for X amount of time and therefore they do not have to pay their motor tax, it is commonly referred to as gapping. We are dealing with that. The loss to the Exchequer is believed to be approximately €55 million per annum. The matter will be dealt with shortly. The Minister, Deputy Hogan, has a file with the Attorney General on the issue. We are ensuring that does not happen. In future one will have to declare in advance that one’s car will be off the road before one can benefit. Whatever happens in this or any other budget, any changes the Government makes will be in line with the terms of reference of the review which we announced last year. The adjustment of CO2 bands and rates of VRT and motor tax in line with technological advances in motor vehicles will maintain a positive environmental incentive to reduce transport emissions and ensure a stable funding base for motor taxes. If anything were to happen, one would still have an incremental difference.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen I take it from the response the Minister of State agrees with my allegation that when the Government decided to cut funding to local authorities in the manner in which it did in the middle of the year, it had no consideration whatsoever for the motorist who had paid his motor tax in good faith and the expectation he had for the maintenance of the roads in his county.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I refute that utterly. Coming from a party which in 1977 – perhaps the Deputy was not around then-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen No, I was not elected to the Dáil in 1977. I had no hand, act or part in it.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I remind him that Fianna Fáil did away with motor tax completely.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen I was elected to this Dáil in 2011 and perhaps the Minister of State would deal with the questions which relate to people's livelihood.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I did not interrupt Deputy Cowen. Let me repeat, in 1977 the then Fianna Fáil Government did away completely with all motor taxation-----

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen That has nothing to do with the question. The Minister of State should address the question.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd -----and household charges.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen We are not playing that game.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd That is one of the reasons we got into the current mess. We are trying to clear up the last mess Fianna Fáil made when in government and part of the process is, unfortunately, what needs to happen. Any differentiation that existed previously with reduced CO2 emissions will continue even in the event of a change.


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