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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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  10 o’clock

  Sections 15 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.


  Question proposed: "That section 23 stand part of the Bill."

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath For the measures that are dealt with in the legislation here, I ask the Minister to highlight if there are changes to the status quo. My understanding is that in essence these sections are about the retention of the status quo.

  In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the enactment of these provisions essentially provides that the current arrangements with the UK, treating it as a member state, will continue. However, from the perspective of the European Union, is that for a defined period or will it be allowed to continue in perpetuity?

  In general, if we are coming to individual items where there is a change to the status quo and it is dealt with here, I ask the Minister to bring that to our attention. Obviously, we know what the situation is with taxation measures that are not dealt with here.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty On Second Stage, I indicated that my party may have particular concerns about some of the taxation policies in this legislation. However, given that they are the continuation of existing policies, we are not raising objections to them now because this is about maintaining the status quo in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We do not object to any of these sections on the basis that the advice we have been given is that this only maintains the status quo. As Deputy Michael McGrath said, we also ask that any deviation from that be signalled, although I understand there is no deviation.

  If I understood him correctly, Deputy McGrath asked a valid question about the continuation of this policy. I understand this will continue indefinitely. However, does the Department intend to review some of these policies? For example, we just dealt with those in Britain who will still benefit from the artist exemption. Should that continue two or three years down the line? Is a general review of some of these measures intended after a sufficient period?

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I apologise to the Deputies for not being here for the start of the section but I believe I heard the points that were put.

  The first question was whether all of these sections seek to maintain the status quo and the answer is that they do. I believe all Deputies have been briefed on that point.

  I was also asked if these policies would apply indefinitely. In the event of a disorderly Brexit at the end of March, these policies will be introduced to maintain the status quo, but, of course, they would be subject to review at any point either through the annual mechanism we have through the finance Bill or through the many Bills my Department introduces to the House each year. There would be opportunities then to look at the application of this policy and see if either I or any of the Opposition parties believe that any further amendment is needed.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath If I understand the Minister correctly, he is saying that all these provisions will be reviewed in the normal way as the Oireachtas would do through the budgetary process and the finance Bill. However, from the point of view of the EU giving its imprimatur to these measures, which for the purposes of continuing with these reliefs allows Ireland to essentially recognise the UK as remaining within the Union or tantamount to being within the Union, the EU has not put any time limit on the continuation of all these reliefs in the case of a disorderly Brexit. Is that what the Minister is saying?

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty From our point of view, we are proceeding on the basis of our understanding and the Minister has clarified that. I ask him to answer a further question which will bring additional clarity. Is the Department aware of any other taxation measure that is not contained in this legislation where an assessment was made not to continue the status quo? Is this the full suite of taxation measures identified by the Department? Can he confirm there was no decision not to continue something of which we are not aware because we have not seen it here?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Any tax measure to which I am contemplating making a change is contained in this Bill. I am not considering any further measure beyond what has been indicated here.

Deputy McGrath asked about the European Union. The vast majority, if not all, of the different measures contained in the Bill are through exercise of our national sovereignty in the tax area. The Union is aware of the changes we are making. Where relevant, we have had some consultation with it, particularly on some of the amendments we have introduced. I am satisfied that what we are introducing is absolutely compliant with the application of EU law. I am not contemplating any further tax measures beyond those indicated in the Bill.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty I understand the Minister is not contemplating anything further than this. However, does the Department have a list of taxation measures that exist because Britain is part of the European Union, which are not accommodated in this legislation, meaning that after Brexit there would be a change in taxation on A, B, C, D, E and F? If there is such a list in the Department, can it be shared with Opposition Members to see what is not being continued and what parts of the taxation code will not continue?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe We do not have that list. Any measure that we believe we need to change in our tax policy to maintain the status quo is contained in this Bill. I am trying to be helpful and I am doing my best to answer the Deputy's question, but it is a fundamental one. I understand both Deputies are saying that, on the basis of good faith, they will facilitate the passage of these sections. If I am not answering a question that the Deputy has put to me to the best of his satisfaction and he would like further clarity, I will do my best to deal with it.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty I accept the Minister's good faith in this regard. In the assessment of this legislation, has the Department identified taxation measures, which British residents or companies enjoy as a result of the UK being a member of the European Union, that after the passage of this Bill and a no-deal Brexit they will no longer enjoy? Have we decided that we do not want to maintain the status quo on any such matters?

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I wish to put my understanding of what the Minister said on the record. My interpretation is that what has been captured here is exhaustive from the perspective of the Department and that the Minister is not aware of any further changes that fall out of this by omission. If that is the position, it covers an awful lot that we could go into in greater detail.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe That is the case. Anything that is not contained in this Bill is not by an act of omission. It is because if we find ourselves dealing with a tax policy issue in the aftermath of a disorderly Brexit, it will be because something has happened that we did not anticipate or were not aware of. Any knowledge that we have of any tax matter that needs to be dealt with in the event of Brexit taking place in a number of weeks is included in the Bill.

  Question put and agreed to.

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