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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1 - 20
 Header Item Middle East Peace Process
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Banks Recapitalisation
 Header Item Credit Unions Regulation
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts Tenders
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Budget Submissions
 Header Item Customs and Excise Controls
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Services Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1 - 20

Middle East Peace Process

 1. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has raised concerns regarding the proposed Israeli plans for an additional 3,000 settlement homes in East Jerusalem with his EU colleagues; if the EU has any plans to confront this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55001/12]

 2. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he has raised concerns regarding Israeli plans for an additional 3,000 settlement homes in East Jerusalem with the Israeli Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55002/12]

 3. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore in view of accelerated illegal settlement development by Israel in the East Jerusalem area if he will once again raise the issue of banning imports from illegal Israeli settlements with his EU colleagues; if he will consider the issue on a unilateral level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55003/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.

In my statement of 3 December I made clear the Government’s concern and strong criticism of the announcement by Israel of 3,000 additional settlement units in East Jerusalem, as well as plans to proceed with settlement expansion in the critical E1 area, which would complete the isolation of arab East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. High Representative Ashton, on behalf of the EU, has also expressed her deep concern at the Israeli government’s announcement in a statement issued on 2 December. It is negative and highly damaging to any prospect of peace for Israel to announce this measure in response to an action at the United Nations which, while unwelcome to Israel, was an entirely legitimate political move, and one which was supported by the overwhelming majority of the nations of the world. The acceleration in the overall pace of settlement expansion is also deeply troubling with these settlement measures only the latest in a succession of major settlement announcements which have clearly been in planning for some time.

It is also deeply troubling that, at a moment when the Palestinians were signalling that their success at the UN would permit them to re-enter direct negotiations with Israel, that the response of the Israeli Government should be such an action which directly threatens that prospect. It must be reiterated that not only is the entire settlement enterprise contrary to international law, but that the continued expansion of settlements is simply incompatible with the achievement of a comprehensive peace. It is very difficult therefore to do other than conclude that the Israeli Government is not genuinely committed to a negotiated peace deal, unless it moves at once to rescind these decisions.

Following agreement on a concerted response at EU level, the Israeli Ambassador was invited in to my Department on 4 December and asked to convey to his Government our deep concern and disappointment at these decisions, and our view that they must be reversed. I understand that a number of EU partners have acted similarly. I expect to be further discussing this matter, and other recent developments, with my colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, 10 December. In relation to settlement products, I have recently written to the Deputy and to all Deputies setting out in detail my views on this issue.

Tax Code

 4. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the saving to the Exchequer that would accrue from including child benefit as taxable income. [54999/12]

 9. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the saving to the Exchequer that would accrue from including child benefit as taxable income; if the Revenue Commissioners have the capabilities to do if so directed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54932/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 and 9 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the yield from taxing Child Benefit is fully dependent on resolving a number of significant and complex policy and legal issues before the question of implementing a charge to taxation on this payment can be considered. These policy issues include clearly determining who is the owner of the Child Benefit payment, whether by taxing the payment, there follows an entitlement to the PAYE tax credit, how the payment is treated for tax purposes in the hands of jointly assessed couples and legal issues surrounding the tax treatment of married couples and co-habiting couples. I understand that the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare, established by the Minister for Social Protection, has considered these and other issues in relation to Child Benefit in the context of a report on child and family income supports which is being considered by the Minister.

In view of the considerable legal and policy issues involved, it is extremely difficult to estimate the likely yield as a result of taxing Child Benefit. I am advised that the estimated full year yield, based on projected 2013 incomes, could be of the order of €395 million on a 2012 basis, if the Child Benefit were fully taxable as the income of the assessable person in joint assessment cases, and that no new tax threshold, exemption, allowance or personal reliefs would be introduced to offset some of the tax.

Regarding the implementation of any decisions the Government might make, I am further informed that, were the legal and policy issues resolved and legislated for, there are very well established data exchange arrangements in place between Revenue and the Department of Social Protection that could be extended to facilitate the taxation of Child Benefit once there is a suitable lead-in time and resources to facilitate the ICT changes required by both the Department of Social Protection and Revenue.

Tax Code

 5. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the different rates of tobacco duty for cigarettes and rolling tobacco; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54824/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Following yesterday’s Budget changes, the rate of tobacco products tax applicable to cigarettes is €237.69 per thousand together with an amount equal to 8.83 per cent of the price at which the cigarettes are sold by retail, or €271.91 per thousand cigarettes, whichever is the greater. The tobacco products tax on roll-your-own tobacco is €248.608 per kilogram. Details of the tobacco products tax rates applicable to all tobacco products are available on www.revenue.ie. The price and tax component of cigarettes in Ireland are amongst the highest in the EU. Following the Budget increase, the price of 20 cigarettes in the most popular price category is €9.30. The total tax (VAT inclusive) on this product is €7.31. The Budget increase amounts to an increase in tax of 10 cents (VAT inclusive) on a pack of 20 cigarettes in the most popular price category. The increase on roll-your own tobacco amounts to an increase in tax, inclusive of VAT, of approximately 60 cent per 25g pack.

Banks Recapitalisation

 6. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if it is possible to identify the current holders of the remaining Irish Bank Resolution Corporation bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54862/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The bank has no means of establishing the underlying ownership of these securities which are freely tradable once issued. These securities are publicly traded and dealt through market participants and settled by clearing house systems. An issuer does not have any access to the records of the clearing house. At maturity, the bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds due to the clearing house who will then distribute the funds to the holders of the securities as per their records. Even where the bank is presented with lists purporting to represent names of bondholders, I am informed there is no way for the bank or anyone else to verify such lists. In the circumstances the Deputy will appreciate that there is no way to identify, with certainty, the names of the remaining bondholders.

Credit Unions Regulation

 7. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the steps that need to be taken for a new single payments platform for credit unions to receive regulatory approval; if any application has been made for such approval; the date on which the application was submitted; when the decision on the application will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54886/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Central Bank of Ireland has responsibility for the approval of an application to operate a single payments platform. If an entity wishes to establish a single payments platform for credit unions, this activity may require authorisation under the European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009 (PSRs) as it may constitute a “payment service” within the meaning of the PSRs. The Central Bank advises me that due to the confidentiality provisions set out in Section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942 it is not in a position to confirm whether any such application has been received to date.

An entity seeking authorisation as a payment institution pursuant to the PSRs would be required to submit an application for authorisation to the Central Bank in accordance with Regulation 10 of the PSRs. Regulation 11 sets out the capital requirements. Regulation 21 provides that within three months of the receipt of an application (or, if the application is incomplete, of all the information required for the decision), the Central Bank will inform the applicant concerned whether the authorisation has been granted or refused.

Public Procurement Contracts Tenders

 8. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the percentage of Government contracts that are awarded to non-Irish companies; the percentage of these that go to EU companies; and if he will provide details as to the percentage of contracts awarded by other EU Governments outside of those countries to EU based companies in order that we can compare Ireland’s performance in this regard.  [54897/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In response to the Deputy’s question my Department does not keep a central record of the nationality of companies that are awarded contracts to provide goods or services to my Department. My Department awards contracts to companies based on the procurement guidelines outlined on the Government e-tender website managed by the Office of Public Works National Procurement Service. The relevant website address is as follows: http://www.etenders.gov.ie/about_us_main_en-GB.

  Question No. 9 answered with Question No. 4.

Tax Yield

 10. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the total payments to the Exchequer resulting from the carbon tax in each of the years since its introduction to date; if he will provide a breakdown of the energy sources, that is oil, gas and so on, from which tax revenues have been collected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54933/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the total payments to the Exchequer resulting from the introduction of Carbon Tax are shown in the tables.

Carbon Tax
2010
2011
2012 (10Mths)
 
€m
€m
€m
Auto Diesel 98.41 97.53 107.17
Petrol 65.09 60.11 62.37
Aviation Gasoline 0.04 0.04 0.04
Kerosene 16.99 40.52 28.54
MGO 27.03 48.95 44.16
Fuel Oil 1.57 2.33 1.86
LPG (other) 2.59 5.43 4.94
Auto LPG 0.04 0.20 0.20
Natural Gas 11.32 43.13 37.47
Total 223.08 298.23 286.75
Value Added Tax
2010
2011
2012 (10Mths)
(Estimated)
€m
€m
€m
Auto Diesel 2.07 2.05 2.46
Petrol 13.67 12.62 14.35
Aviation Gasoline 0.01 0.01 0.01
Kerosene 2.29 5.47 3.85
MGO 3.65 6.61 5.96
Fuel Oil - - -
LPG (other) 0.35 0.73 0.67
Auto LPG 0.01 0.05 0.05
Natural Gas 0.92 3.49 3.04
Total 22.96 31.03 30.38


Please note that the VAT receipts are estimated, as the VAT returns do not require the yield from a particular sector or sub-sector of trade to be identified and the actual VAT yield for each category cannot therefore be determined.

EU Directives

 11. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the position regarding the proposals to revise the existing energy taxation directive; if he expects that the negotiations on this directive will be completed during Ireland's Presidency of the European Union; in view of the existing carbon tax regime here, if the principle of subsidiarity will be applied to Ireland if any mandatory carbon tax regime is introduced across the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54935/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The taxation of energy products is to a certain extent harmonized at EU level. Directive 2003/96/EC known as the Energy Tax Directive (ETD) refers. The current ETD provides for minimum excise rates of taxation for energy products based on the volume of a product released for consumption. Member States must respect the minimum rates and not tax products below those rates, but are free to set higher rates for individual fuels as they see fit. The current Irish national rates are generally above the EU minimum rates. The aim of the Commission’s proposal is to revise the ETD to bring it in line with wider EU climate change and energy policy to which all Members States have signed up. Ireland broadly supports the principle of the proposal and welcomes the introduction of a carbon tax element into the EU minimum rates; it will serve to lessen competitiveness concerns arising from Ireland being a lead country in the area of carbon taxes. Discussions are ongoing and Ireland will endeavour to progress the negotiations during its Presidency.

Budget Submissions

 12. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on a submission (details supplied) from the Retired Civil and Public Servants' Association. [54953/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have received a copy of the submission to which the Deputy refers. As with other pre-Budget submissions it was circulated to the relevant officials in my Department so that its contents could be considered in the context of the Budget and the forthcoming Finance Bill.

Customs and Excise Controls

 13. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the normal procedure in cases similar to the seizure of goods and accessories in the possession of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55053/12]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that on 29 November 2012 the person concerned was stopped by a Revenue Customs Officer in the Customs Blue Channel at Dublin Airport. The person had arrived in Dublin on a flight from Istanbul having started her journey in China. As a traveller from a non-EU country, the person should not have attempted to exit the baggage hall by way of the Blue Channel. This is reserved for intra-EU travellers who have no declaration to make. Travellers from outside the EU must use the Red (Goods to declare) or Green (No Goods to Declare) Customs Channel, as appropriate, and there are notices on display in the area indicating this requirement. On examining the person’s baggage, the Revenue Customs Officer discovered 25 well known branded handbags, 14 designer branded belts and 16 make-up sets. The officer suspected that the goods in question were counterfeit and detained them under section 7 of the Customs & Excise (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1988.

On 1 December 2012, having received confirmation from the relevant right holders (brand owners) that the goods are counterfeit, the Revenue Customs Officer seized the goods under the Customs Acts as they are prohibited from import into the EU. Furthermore, the person concerned has committed a Customs offence by attempting to import the goods. The normal procedure in such cases is for a report of the offence to be prepared and forwarded to its Investigations and Prosecutions Division for consideration of prosecution, and this is now happening. Without prejudice to any further action that may be taken, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the re-exportation of counterfeit goods is not an option under current legislation, and it is likely the goods will be destroyed when the outcome of the case is finally determined.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 14. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on the Student Universal Support Ireland grant application; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54837/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the application of the student referred to by the Deputy is currently being assessed and that SUSI will be in contact with him directly in the coming days.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 15. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their Student Universal Support Ireland application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54839/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the application of the student referred to by the Deputy is currently being assessed and that SUSI will be in contact with him directly in the coming days.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

 16. Deputy Paschal Donohoe Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason a school (details supplied) in Dublin 1 was excluded by the special education needs unit of his Department for special education needs resource support this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54853/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The facility to which the Deputy refers in his question provides a two-year pre-school programme which caters for 3-5 year old children. The Pre-School project referred to is not a designated Special School, but a stand-alone project in receipt of an individual resourcing mechanism which is separate to the resourcing arrangements which apply to mainstream and Special schools, including supports which are provided to mainstream and Special schools to support pupils with special educational needs.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Pre-School referred to him in his question is in receipt of significant supports from my Department. In 2012 my Department has provided support to the value of approximately €740,000 to this School. The provision includes staffing of an Administrative Principal, 6 teachers and 5 child care workers catering for 95 children, a pupil to adult ratio of approximately 8:1. In addition to the teaching and child care provision, the project receives an annual grant from my Department to fund non-teaching pay costs which provides for the employment of a cook, cleaner and a caretaker. My Department also provides funding towards the non-pay or running costs of the project. Finally, I wish to clarify that the funding awarded to the Pre-school is based on budget proposals submitted by the Pre-school each year. The funding awarded by my Department for 2012 matches the proposals submitted.

Schools Building Projects Status

 17. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a building project in respect of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [54854/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Board of Management of the school has recently been authorised to progress the project to commence stage 2(b) which includes applications for planning permission, Fire Safety Certification, Disability Access Certification. Due to competing demands on my Department's capital budget, imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements, it was not possible to include the project referred to by the Deputy in the five year construction programme. Schools which have not been included in the five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to my Department in future years. The project referred to by the Deputy remains available to be considered for progression in that context.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 18. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a Student Universal Support Ireland grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in view of new information supplied. [54858/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, his student grant application was unsuccessful and that he appealed the decision to the appeals officer in SUSI on 30th November 2012. SUSI aims to issue determinations as promptly as possible and within the specified timeframes defined in the Student Support Act, 2011. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

 19. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if applications for student grants to Student Universal Support Ireland will be granted without delay in view of the fact that students need to sit exams and cannot do so until they have received their grant and paid their fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54868/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn SUSI has indicated that it is on target to progress all applications received to date with the necessary supporting documentation between now and the end of the year. The Higher Education Authority (HEA), on foot of a request from my Department, has written to all higher education institutions requesting them to show flexibility and consideration, as most have done in the past, to students who may be awaiting a decision on their grant application and/or payment of grants. The HEA has requested institutions not withdraw facilities such as library or exam access, given that these students are awaiting decision on their grant applications. The situation is being kept under review. In addition SUSI is working closely with the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the Institutes of Technology Ireland (IOTI) in this regard.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 20. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if an application for a student grant has been processed in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54870/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy a grant has been awarded and an award letter issued on 24th October, 2012.


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