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 Header Item Tax Law Reform and Codification Advisory Committee Bill 2018: First Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill 2018: First Stage
 Header Item Employment Equality Act 1998 (section 12) (Reservation of vocational training places) Order: Referral to Joint Committee

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton] As a country, we are drinking in the last chance saloon with regard to how we participate in international tax justice and progress. This is what this vital tax infrastructure proposes to address. The new body would also be charged with commissioning research and analysis, and advising the Minister. It would promote tax equity, seek to protect the revenues of the State and facilitate enterprise, while simplifying the operation of the law and enhancing compliance. It would allow the State to play catch-up with many of the legal and accounting tax advisory firms, which are always at least three steps ahead of Revenue in planning schemes, some of which involve extremely aggressive tax planning and significant reductions in tax income to the State.

Recent international studies can no longer be ignored or downplayed by the Government. As the recent Coffey report shows, Ireland has made significant progress in the area of tax. However, the growing view of Ireland as a tax haven, as argued in recent academic studies, has to be addressed definitively. In the Labour Party's two most recent alternative budgets, I outlined concerns, since echoed in a recent report of the Committee of Public Accounts on corporation tax, about the need for reform and oversight. One of the first tasks of the proposed commission would be to examine the recommendations of the Committee of Public Accounts. It is not acceptable, in this day and age, that the banks which taxpayers bailed out at great sacrifice should effectively have a tax holiday with relief from all corporation tax for up to 20 years. I have raised in the Dáil in recent years nearly all of the key issues flagged in the report of the Committee of Public Accounts, including the use of tax losses, particularly by the banks but also by the construction industry and property developers, and the high and growing cost of the research and development, R&D, tax credit, which is many millions more than what it was meant to be when introduced by the Minister.

It is clear that we still have some way to go on tax transparency and justice. A standing commission on taxation would be tasked with continuously monitoring how our tax laws are being used to examine loopholes, reliefs and avoidance structures on a rolling basis. Many of the tax structures we still have made a significant contribution to the last crash. If we are to avoid stormy water in future, we need to have infrastructure which examines whether the cost to taxpayers of some of the schemes is justifiable and whether these schemes are fair and equitable. I firmly believe that we need a commission to examine matters such as this, which should be closely and continuously monitored. Such a body would be ideally suited to this task.

I have spoken previously about having a minimum effective corporate tax rate to ensure profitable companies in Ireland cannot use accounting tricks and tax losses from the property crash to avoid paying their fair share. Other European Union countries such as Italy, France and Germany are developing individual responses to multi-billion companies which show in their accounts that they effectively pay little or no tax in Ireland, particularly in digital taxation. It is not possible to secure agreement on this issue at EU level. Ireland may be hit significantly by these changes and we do not have a mechanism in place to prepare for them. I recommend the Bill to the Dáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill opposed?

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill 2018: First Stage

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the law relating to industrial and provident societies and for that purpose to amend the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893 and to provide for connected matters.

  I am speaking on behalf of all of the Independents 4 Change Deputies. This small Bill is designed to amend the regulations relating to the establishment of co-operative societies to make the process of registering a co-operative much easier. It will do this in a number of ways. It reduces the membership criteria from seven members to three, in line with the regulations in place in most of Europe. It allows for electronic filing and registration, a process available to other types of companies, and allows for audit exemptions, which are also available to other types of companies but not to co-operative societies. These small measures will level the playing field and make the establishment of co-operatives much easier. They will lay the basis for us, as a society, to develop this type of economic activity in a way that is much more in line with what takes place in the rest of Europe and the world.

  The economic turmoil of the past decade and the insecurity of the market have had devastating effects on jobs and vital services. Against that backdrop, it is no coincidence that Europe has experienced significant growth in co-operatives aimed at salvaging jobs and saving local services. Similar growth has not occurred in Ireland, which is completely out of kilter with the rest of Europe in this regard. This legislation can be part of Ireland joining the co-operative movement that already exists. It is a resilient, democratic movement which is generally based on values of providing good jobs and services that are beneficial to communities. These companies are much more likely to reinvest their profits in training and education than bend to shareholder demands. They are far less likely to contribute to environmental damage in their locality. They are also incredibly sustainable, currently providing 100 million jobs around the world.

  Research in economies such as Scotland reveals that the companies based on the co-operative model are much more likely to survive in the first five years than other start-ups, with a 97% survival rate for the first 12 months. The 573 co-operatives in Scotland had a turnover of £2.4 billion last year based on a membership of 1.2 million, while the UK as a whole had 7,226 independent co-operatives, extending from the well-known John Lewis chain, with a £10 billion turnover, to local crèche providers. We believe this model can be replicated in local communities, particularly rural communities, and deliver substantial benefits to everybody. They are a win-win solution.

  We have the Dublin Food Co-op, which is run by its members and provides healthy, fair trade, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly produce, for which there is a big market. We have the incredibly successful Belfast Cleaning Company, a worker-owned and managed company that has been operating successfully on a cross-community basis in Belfast for the past five years. The Magpie Recycling Co-operative in Brighton began with three volunteers collecting cans and glass in their locality and expanded into a collective, recycling materials such as old furniture from the kerbside to provide a service to more than 2,000 households and a workshop to upcycle the waste. There is no shortage of examples. We believe that this is a win-win model and the Bill provides a simple mechanism that will make the process of establishing co-operatives easier. We will be supportive of any community groups or local workers' groups that want to adapt the model and we will work with pioneers in organisations such as Trademark, which operates out of Northern Ireland, who can assist in this regard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill opposed?

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Employment Equality Act 1998 (section 12) (Reservation of vocational training places) Order: Referral to Joint Committee

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton I move:

That the proposal that Dáil Éireann approves the following Order in draft:
Employment Equality Act 1998 (section 12) (Reservation of vocational training places) Order 2018,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 26th June, 2018, be referred to the Joint Committee on Education and Skills, in accordance with Standing Order 84A(4)(k), which, not later than 12th July, 2018, shall send a message to the Dáil in the manner prescribed in Standing Order 90, and Standing Order 89(2) shall accordingly apply.

  Question put and agreed to.


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