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Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Continued)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

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  7 o’clock

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Deputy Bannon has a very short memory. Does he want to see what he proposed last year? I suggest he reads it. That is how he got the votes in Longford-Westmeath. He lied to the people. He should admit it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy Michael McGrath cannot display those posters.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Deputy Bannon should not talk about it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I want the same respect for Deputy Bannon as everybody else received.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Deputy Bannon should stop waffling.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Deputy Michael McGrath is like the bride in Cinderella - whiter than white.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath There it is. I will give Deputy Bannon a copy.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon This property tax has been pushed on us by the EU-IMF in co-operation with Fianna Fáil after that party bankrupt this country and sold us down the river. This is the party that called itself republican, although it depends on the constituency in which one was during the past election. In some constituencies, they had the republican banner loud and clearly visible on their election literature. In others, they had it tiny because-----

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Is this relevant to section 1?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon -----people realised that they sold us down the river.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I would say Deputy Bannon's logo will be fairly small on the next occasion. One would need binoculars to see it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please. Deputy Bannon on section 1.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon The mismanagement of the economy was brought about by the actions of Fianna Fáil in the Galway tent and other places over the year rather than doing the business of the Dáil in this House. The current leader of Fianna Fáil had his hands, and, indeed, head, in the Government for the past 14 years.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Has Deputy Bannon forgotten that he is in government now?

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Is that what Deputy Bannon has to say to the people who must pay their tax?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon People do not forget that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The angry man of the previous Dáil.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Is that how Deputy Bannon will defend it?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon I hope they will not forget that.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They will not forget Deputy Bannon either.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae They will not forget Deputy Bannon.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath A hot-air balloon.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Will the Deputies settle down, please?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon I see the terrible twins are backing up Deputy Michael McGrath.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae We are telling the truth.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon They are rejects from Fianna Fáil, as bad as it was.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae We are telling the truth.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Deputy Bannon himself is a reject.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon No doubt this property will add to the burden and, indeed, hardship, of many throughout the country, and that is unfortunate.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath What about the big farmers up the tree-lined avenues?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon There are many who are on low incomes going through rough times and who cannot afford to pay the €100 household charge all at once. I would plead with the Minister to include in this legislation an easy payment system for the less well-off-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Bring in the sheriff.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon -----similar to what-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Revenue Commissioners' sheriff.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon -----applies in the collection of motor tax. There is an easy payment system of motor tax and it is something the Minister could include in this Bill.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Deputy Bannon has not read the Bill.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Or Deputy Bannon could tell us where the money tree is?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Please.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon That would be important.    I also fear-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I did not know Deputy Bannon did fear.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon -----that a penal property tax could lead to the loss of our architectural heritage.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The big houses and small farmers.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Back in the 1940s and 1950s when rates were in being, many fine period residences were unroofed because their owners were not able to meet the cost of high rates.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They are now being robbed for the lead.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Our heritage is important to us and it is the cornerstone of our tourism industry. There should be provision in the Bill to protect heritage homes.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae What about the ordinary homes?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Our heritage is about what we inherit from the past. There is a need to protect heritage, in particular, the built heritage which includes homes, monuments, parks, gardens, historic sites, etc. Heritage provides links to the past. It is important that we maintain those and make some provision in the Bill to protect heritage homes.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The landed gentry.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon There are grants from the Heritage Council to refurbish some of those buildings-----

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath We will exempt Deputy Reilly's house.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon -----but there should be some provision made.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath One should put down an amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I thank the Deputies.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon The cost of maintaining a heritage home is excessive. Many would say that they would prefer to rebuild a house rather than refurbish it, but they are important links with the past. Perhaps the Minister would concede to some provision or maybe, in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, he could look at this important area.

We all are suffering because of the fraud, corruption and cover-up by some former politicians, some senior executives and some senior bankers in Ireland. They are responsible for the illegal theft of taxpayers' money and the ruination of the country-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Theft is illegal.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon -----that has left the economy in complete meltdown. This is why we had to bring in a tough budget and take tough decisions. Hopefully, there will be light at the end of the tunnel and we will rise, like a phoenix from the ashes, as a better people and society.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish I will be brief because I am aware there are many amendments and many Members have touched on many of the issues already. I want to touch on a few matters regarding this Bill.

The introduction of this property tax will be one of the biggest issues facing this Government. There are families - I am not sure whether the Minister's colleagues come across this but we on this side of the House are coming across it every day of the week - who cannot put bread on the table and cannot put clothes on their children, and whose worry this Christmas is that they cannot even buy a Christmas present for their young children, and now the Minister is imposing a property tax on them.

This week alone, a married couple came into my office worrying about their three children. This was a middle-class couple, both of whom were working and at the end of the month, with everything paid, all they had left was €10 or €15 to enjoy themselves, and now the Minister is imposing a property tax on them. The big worry is that the Minister is bringing the Revenue Commissioners in to collect it. It is bad enough to impose a tax on them, but now there is that fear.

These are law abiding citizens. They do not want to break the law. They want to be in the position to pay their taxes. They want to be in the position to put their children through school and college and to service their loans, but many of them are not in that position at present.

The Minister cannot cut his way out of recession. The only way one can get out of recession is to spend one's way out. The Minister is taking money out of the economy, people are not spending and businesses are closing.

The Minister spoke of deducting this at source from they pay. What about those who are in rented houses where the landlord is supposed to pay? Will they get away with this and the landlord not pay? I am aware of cases around the country where landlords own 20, 30 or 40 houses and have not even paid the household charge. How will the Minister get the tax off them? Those living in rented accommodation will be exempt and the poor ones are being penalised for buying their house. They paid their taxes on the house when they bought it and now the Minister will impose another charge on them.

As many Members stated here, why must this Bill be guillotined tonight? While seated on the other side of the House on many occasions I saw the Members opposite expressing outrage when guillotines were imposed. They even stated when on this side of the House that if they were in government they would never do that. One of the most important Bills, that will affect every person because we all must live in houses, will be guillotined at 11 o'clock tonight. The Minister need not bring in the guillotine tonight. He should give everybody an opportunity to debate this.

There was mention that we would see improved services in the local authorities. We will not. I am aware that one local authority stated that if it got extra funding, it would use it to pay off its loans. The funding will end up going back to the banks.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, stated that if one wanted one's estate road tarred or side road tarred, the locals would have to pay towards that as well - he is providing a €10 million fund. That is another tax.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy Grealish is moving away from section 1.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish I have other issues that I hope to raise during the course of the Bill. I ask the Minister not to guillotine this Bill tonight and to listen to the Members on this side of the House.

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The Title of the Bill is somewhat misleading. In schools of policy, they say that a good policy must meet three criteria: it must be technically correct, which is usually the job of the officials; it must be politically acceptable, which is usually the job of the politicians; and it must be implementable. This so-called local property tax seems to fail all three of those. It is clearly not politically acceptable. The Minister will ram it through. He will whip his Deputies to vote but it is not politically acceptable to the public. It will be difficult to implement because the Revenue Commissioners do not have the kind of data they need and they may not have the resources they need.

I am most surprised at the Minister, Deputy Noonan in respect of the following area: the Bill is technically flawed. I am curious as to where this arises. It can arise from one of only four sources, namely, from the Minister himself, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, the officials in the Department of Finance or the officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.


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