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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl] The public has a right to expect that we will debate the legislation in a serious and conscientious manner, teasing through this legislation in the way that we as legislators are obliged to do.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon The Deputy saw three years ago that this was coming down the road.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I put it to the Taoiseach earlier that he committed himself and his Government to political reform. We are now seeing the political reform, which is a budget that was decided upon by four members of the Cabinet. The outcome of that budget is being decided in this House on foot of guillotines which do not even allow Government backbenchers an opportunity to contribute. I respect the Taoiseach but I do not respect the manner in which he has broken his promises to the people on this matter of political reform. He is using an unprecedented majority to jackboot through this type of legislation.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Some hard words there, Taoiseach.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams On behalf of Sinn Féin, I also want to oppose proposal No. 4. As Teachta Ó Fearghaíl said, we have discussed the fact that one in four mortgage holders is in distress with their mortgage. Hundreds of thousands of families are struggling to get by, yet this odious tax is going to be press-ganged through the Dáil. The Government is going to impose a tax on every single family home in this State.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Just like in the North.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams We do not have a property tax in the North, my dear friend. However, why will we not have an opportunity to discuss this matter here? What is the Government afraid of? The Taoiseach chided Fianna Fáil because it rushed it through a previous budget before the weekend, obviously as part of its party management. The Government is doing exactly the same thing now. Why can people in this House who have a mandated position and want to argue their proposals not get an opportunity to do so? Despite all the talk, in every single session yet another promise in the programme for Government bites the dust. We saw that happen again today. Why can there not be a full debate? This tax is not going to come until next summer, so why can we not have it discussed in some detail?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett This extremely cynical and undemocratic attempt to ram through the property tax will not save the Taoiseach, as he hopes it will, from the popular revolt next year when people have this unfair tax imposed on them. The level of popular resistance and boycott that we saw concerning the household charge last year will be even greater and far more terrifying for the Government.

Despite the forlorn effort on the Taoiseach's part to try to forestall protest, none the less this is an extremely cynical exercise. There are 159 sections in the property tax Bill. By anybody's standards this is among the most important legislation this Government will ever put through the House. It will affect virtually every citizen in the country. There are a hell of a lot of details involved in the new powers it gives to Revenue to seize money at source from ordinary workers and social welfare recipients. It will have significant economic implications in terms of the burden it will impose on low and middle-income families. It will also potentially have a very damaging effect on the domestic economy, in addition to many more details, complexities and potential anomalies. Despite this, the Taoiseach intends to forestall that debate and squash those 159 sections into a couple of hours. We will be lucky if we get through seven or eight of them. It makes a farce and a sham of democracy, of this House and of its role in legislative scrutiny. It is cynical and dictatorial in the extreme.

The Taoiseach should lift the guillotine and at least allow for a debate on this measure. He should allow all amendments to be discussed. It can easily be done early next year because the property tax does not come into force until the middle of 2013. There is simply no excuse for this guillotine.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Better still, drop the planned tax.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We are wasting time here. Deputy Ó Fearghaíl has spoken about jackboot tactics.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Yes, big boot tactics.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Adams has spoken about family homes. Obviously, everybody will contribute in some shape or other to the property tax. Thankfully, the majority of people contributed to the household charge. I would remind those who did not, however, that they will be required to meet the household charge and half of the property tax next year. It is unfair of those who can quite easily pay, including some Members of this House, but who have not bothered to do so.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Stick to the Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The mechanics of this have been organised by the Revenue Commissioners. There will be ample opportunity in a variety of ways for people to contribute to the property tax. Those who qualify under the conditions for deferral will have that available to them as well.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins We will go the way of Captain Boycott on this.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We will assume the Presidency of the European Union on 1 January.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams God help you.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny There are 1,600 meetings to be conducted across the whole of Government, for all Ministers, including dealing with the European Parliament, sectoral matters and so on.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath What about the people at home?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please, Deputy.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We will not hold the EU Presidency again until 2024 or 2026, so in that sense we have to move on. This was explained to the Whips at their last meeting. Therefore, regrettably on this occasion, I want to move on, deal with the Bill and complete all Stages of it.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins We do not want the pesky natives bothering the EU.


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