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Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019: Committee Stage (Continued)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris] This legislation is emergency legislation which is geared towards dealing with the here and now of a no-deal hard Brexit.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 not moved.

  Section 4 agreed to.

NEW SECTION

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I move amendment No. 25:

  In page 12, after line 42, to insert the following:

“Report on provision of health care services in the United Kingdom
5. The Minister for Health shall within 90 days of the passage of this Act, present a report to Dáil Éireann on the continued provision of health care services in the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021, which were in operation between the State and the United Kingdom immediately before the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from membership of the European Union.”.

  Amendment put and declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher   Amendment No. 26 is out of order.

  Amendment No. 26 not moved.

  Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.

  Amendments Nos. 27 to 29, inclusive, not moved.

  Section 7 agreed to.

NEW SECTIONS

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Amendments Nos. 30 and 31 are related and may be discussed together.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I move amendment No. 30:

In page 17, after line 33, to insert the following:
“Report on the provision of supports to maintain and grow employment
8. The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation shall within 90 days of the passage of this Act, present a report to Dáil Éireann on the provision of supports to maintain and grow employment in non-exporting indigenous local business.”.

I believe Sinn Féin is tabling a similar amendment. The only difference in principle between the two amendments is that I am tabling this on the basis that the report will be presented 90 days after the passage of this legislation, whereas I believe the Sinn Féin amendments proposes that it is presented after the enactment of the legislation. Of course, we hope that this legislation is never enacted. My amendment is different because I believe these supports are urgent and necessary for businesses that are not receiving supports at the minute. I accept that the Government has done a lot of work in engaging with businesses throughout the country. I know that is very challenging work. I have tried to do that myself to encourage businesses to be aware of the impact of Brexit. I am not talking about those which are directly affected by Brexit but those which might be indirectly affected. I made the point last week in this House that a company with ten employees or fewer will be supported by the local enterprise board. However, a company that has ten or more employees which is not exporting and does not have the potential to export has no State mechanism available to support it. Those types of companies are the bedrock of the business and economic activity in many smaller provincial towns in rural areas. I can think of quite a number of such companies. They may be providing services within that local community or providing services throughout the country. Brexit may indirectly impact upon those companies, yet there is no mechanism in place to support them at the moment.

  I am sure the Minister will come back and say that the Government will not support this amendment, even though it is a valid point. I believe we must accept this amendment. It is imperative that we take action now, because regardless of whether the 29 March deadline leads to a hard Brexit, we are going to have Brexit within the next 21 months. These companies need to be prepared for that now. I accept that the focus until now has been on companies that are trading and that are directly impacted upon by Brexit. However, the focus must shift urgently to these companies which are the bedrock of rural communities in many parts of the country. They need a support mechanism. It is imperative that the Minister tells the House how these businesses will be supported. I have suggested that the local enterprise boards could have their criteria altered so that they could help and assist those companies.

  Another urgently needed support required by local enterprise offices, LEOs, is a specific Brexit support. Enterprise Ireland has a support mechanism available to help exporting companies. InterTradeIreland has a support to help businesses which is specifically targeted at Brexit. However, the LEOs at the minute can offer no support for those companies that may require it in the context of Brexit. It is not just those companies that are exporting or trading with the UK. It might be a company that is supporting a business trading with the UK that will be indirectly affected by Brexit. I do not expect the Minister to be able to provide details on that today, but providing him with 90 days in which to come back to the House to outline how we can support these companies is a very fair and reasonable proposal to put forward.

  We urgently need to review the criteria of Enterprise Ireland. At the moment it is involved in encouraging exporting and supporting businesses that export already or that have the potential to export. We also need to look at import substitution, especially when our nearest trading partner is going to be outside the European Union. If we do not look at that, there might be additional costs for businesses and on the Irish economy. There is an opportunity to support domestic business to fill a potential void in imports that will be coming from a third country post Brexit. The criteria laid down in the legislation for Enterprise Ireland has to be looked at now. There is little point in looking at this on 1 January 2021. Now is the time to do it.

  I am asking that this House be presented with a report within 90 days which outlines how we are going to protect, support and grow local businesses that to date have fallen through the support nets we have, and that are outside the local enterprise and Enterprise Ireland criteria. They might be companies servicing the local economy, the regional economy or the national economy. They might be companies involved in import substitution, particularly from a third country, which may be the United Kingdom after 31 December 2020 at the latest. It is important that we do not ignore those companies. They are the bedrock of the provincial towns and rural economies throughout this country, and they have to be supported.

Deputy David Cullinane: Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane Sinn Féin will support amendment No. 30 as well as tabling its own amendment No. 31. These amendments concern the Brexit business supports contained in this Bill. The supports which will come into effect in the event of a hard crash are the absolute bare minimum. In fact, they do not even represent the bare minimum of what is necessary to support many businesses. Exporters are suffering as we speak because of currency fluctuations and due to the strength of the euro against the pound at the moment. There are certain sectors of the economy, including many manufacturing businesses, as well as exporters, which are also suffering as we speak because of the uncertainty of Brexit.


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