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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item EU Parliament and Council Decisions: Motion
 Header Item Double Taxation Agreements: Motions
 Header Item National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000: Motion
 Header Item Defence Forces Report: Motion
 Header Item Council of Europe: Appointment of Representatives
 Header Item Transport (Córas Iompair Éireann and Subsidiary Companies Borrowings) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages
 Header Item Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis] Will the Bill be at the top of the agenda in the new year? Many issues attach to what is happening in the taxi industry at present.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Bill has been published. The Minister of State, Deputy Alan Kelly, has been working on the issue for some time. I understand the Bill will be in the Seanad in the third week of January. We will have an opportunity to debate it in the Dail after that.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy As recently as last week, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government told the Joint Committee on Environment, Community and Local Government he hoped the heads of the climate change Bill would be published before the end of this session. That, clearly, has not happened. When is it likely to happen and how will the delay impact on the road map? There is a time-line in all of this.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The climate change Bill is being considered by Government. I expect it will be published early in the new year.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae The Minister of State, Deputy Alan Kelly, has been working diligently on the taxi regulation Bill. What will be done for taxi drivers who want to transfer their taxi licence? Will that matter be addressed in the Bill?

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin That is a good parliamentary question.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Is Deputy Howlin the new Ceann Comhairle?

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I try to give the Deputy free advice. What more can I do?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I would like the Tánaiste to answer, in the spirit of the season.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Tánaiste might give some information to help the Deputy, as it is Christmas.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The issue of taxi and taxi regulation was seriously neglected by the previous Government. We all know the huge difficulties that have resulted from that, for taxi drivers and for their customers. For the first time, the Government has addressed the problems in the taxi industry in a serious way. The Minister of State, Deputy Kelly, has brought forward legislation and it will be debated in the Dáil and in the Seanad. I am sure Deputy Kelly will consider any submission by Deputy Healy-Rae.

EU Parliament and Council Decisions: Motion

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the exercise by the State of the option or discretion under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to take part in the adoption and application of the following proposed measure:
a proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Decision No. 573/2007/EC, Decision No. 575/2007/EC and Council Decision 2007/435/EC with a view to increasing the co-financing rate of the European Refugee Fund, the European Return Fund and the European Fund for the Integration of third-country nationals as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 16 October 2012.

  Question put and agreed to.

Double Taxation Agreements: Motions

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move the following motions:

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income and Capital Gains) (Arab Republic of Egypt) Order 2012,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th December, 2012.

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income and Capital Gains) (State of Qatar) Order 2012,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th December, 2012.

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income and on Property) (Republic of Uzbekistan) Order 2012,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th December, 2012.

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income and on Capital) (Swiss Confederation) Order 2012,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th December, 2012.

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Exchange of Information Relating to Taxes (San Marino) Order 2012,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th December, 2012.

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters Order 2012,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 10th December, 2012.

  Question put and agreed to.

National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000: Motion

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 (Suspension of Exchequer Contributions) Order 2012,
copies of which were laid before Dáil Éireann on 7 December 2012.

  Question put and agreed to.

Defence Forces Report: Motion

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the report by the Minister for Defence regarding service by the Defence Forces with the United Nations in 2011, copies of which were laid before Dáil Éireann on 5th March, 2012, in accordance with Section 13 of the Defence (Amendment) Act 2006.

  Question put and agreed to.

Council of Europe: Appointment of Representatives

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I wish to inform the House of the following persons who have been selected and nominated as representatives and alternates from Ireland to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe until the end of 2013.

  Representatives: Deputy Joe O'Reilly, leader of the delegation; Deputy Michael McNamara and Senators Deirdre Clune and Terry Leyden. Alternates: Deputies Terence Flanagan and John Paul Phelan and Senators Kathryn Reilly and Katherine Zappone.

Transport (Córas Iompair Éireann and Subsidiary Companies Borrowings) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages

  Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett A message shall be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I have the honour of deputising for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, in addressing the House on the subject of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill. The Bill was passed by the Seanad last week, on 13 December 2012. The Bill is designated a No. 2 Bill because an Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill, which concerns the Oireachtas translation service and is being dealt with by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is already before the Oireachtas, having commenced its legislative passage through Parliament earlier this year.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission was first established as of 1 January 2004 on foot of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Act 2003 and since then the legislation has been further amended in the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Acts 2006 and 2009. The commission is the independent body which, in effect, is the governing board of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. The primary functions of the commission are to provide for the running of the Houses of the Oireachtas, to act as governing body of the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, to consider and determine policy in relation to the service and to oversee the implementation of that policy by the Secretary General. The Commission is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and consists of 11 members, including the Secretary General. The commission is financed from the Central Fund for a three year period and has control over current expenditure and, to a considerable degree, over its staffing. The commission has no role in regulating the business of the Houses. The commission is accountable to the Parliament and presents annual reports of its work together with estimates and accounts of its expenditure.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Service is the public service body that administers the Houses of the Oireachtas on behalf of the commission as the governing authority. The functions of the service are set out in the Act of 2009. They are to provide advice and support services to the commission, the Houses and their committees and Members of the Houses.

Since 2004, the current expenditure of the Houses of the Oireachtas has been financed from the Central Fund rather than, as has been the case up to then, being included in the Estimates voted annually by the Dáil. This change was effected by the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Act 2003. Under the terms of that Act a three year budget, covering the period 2004 to 2006, was provided for the commission. Further Acts were enacted in 2006, covering the 2007 to 2009 period, and 2009, for the 2010 to 2012 period. A new Act is now required, as the financing provided under the 2009 Act expires as of 31 December next.

The primary purpose of the Bill is, accordingly, to make available the funding for the commission over the coming three years. The Bill proposes to make available to the commission a sum not exceeding €324 million to carry out its functions for the three year period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015. This sum has been agreed between my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the commission and takes into account foreseen expenditure.

I draw the attention of Members to the fact that this sum is considerably less than the €360 million provided for the past three years and, to an even greater extent, the €393 million provided for in the previous three year period. In looking at these figures, a pattern of reducing expenditure by the commission is clear. In this regard, I readily acknowledge that the commission has shown itself commendably aware of the need for it, as a public body, to continually strive for maximum efficiencies in the administration of the Houses.


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