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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 108-118
 Header Item EU Treaties
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration
 Header Item Money Advice and Budgeting Service Issues
 Header Item Bank Interest Rates
 Header Item State Savings Value
 Header Item Property Taxation Collection
 Header Item FÁS Training Programmes
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Services Provision
 Header Item State Examinations Issues

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 803 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 72 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 108-118

EU Treaties

 108. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if European Union treaty change is necessary, thus triggering a referendum here, in order to legally create a single EU bailout agency and rescue fund; if he or his officials discussed this treaty change matter with the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble or his German officials either on the 14 May ECOFIN meeting in Brussels or beforehand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23549/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As Presidency, we are working to progress the ambitious agenda on Banking Union set by the European Council in December.

We have achieved agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism – a very significant step forward. We have also achieved agreement on the Capital Requirements Directive IV, which aims to strengthen the capital requirements for banks and the overall effectiveness of regulation for the sector and enhance financial stability.

We are working on the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and on the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive as the essential next steps, with a view to agreement by June of this year, as envisaged by the European Council. Once this has been agreed, the European Commission is expected to submit a proposal for a single resolution authority shortly thereafter, which will build on the work now underway.

The broad position of the Ecofin is that the building blocks for Banking Union should be put in place as soon as possible. This is a sensible approach and our work is helping to advance Banking Union in as speedy a manner as possible.

Following the Declaration by Member States at the Informal Ecofin in April, the Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, stated that treaty change is not a precondition for banking union, but if there were changes to the treaty later on these could be used to strengthen aspects of the banking union later on. This is the basis on which we are all working. My understanding in relation to what the German Finance Minister has said must be seen in this context.

Finally, as we move into the final weeks of our Presidency we will continue to afford top priority to the legislative files relating to Banking Union, including the BRRD, in line with the conclusions of the European Council which set out a time frame and series of steps for achieving this.

Property Taxation Administration

 109. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will outline his response to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23552/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by Revenue that the person in question was linked to two properties on the Register. The LPT Branch has removed the person’s name as the owner of the second property and issued a paper Return to him. However, if this was not received in time to meet the deadline of 7 May for filing a paper LPT Return, the person in question should file the LPT Return for his property by either going onto its website at www.revenue.ie and selecting "Login into LPT online" or calling the LPT Helpline at 1890 200 255 where he may speak to an official who will file the Return online on his behalf.

  In addition, it would be appreciated if the person in question or his father could contact the LPT Helpline by phone on 1890 200 255, email at lpt@revenue.ie   or in writing to the LPT Branch, PO Box 1, Limerick, to provide details of the liable person in respect of the second property (name and PPSN) and quote the details of the property (address and property ID if available).

Money Advice and Budgeting Service Issues

 110. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will confirm recent reports that the Central Bank is considering using a British debt charity to assist with the restructuring of debt for those in financial difficulty; if the Central Bank of Ireland has given due consideration to using the excellent service provided by Money Advice and Budgeting Service in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23565/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Central Bank has announced its intention to operate a pilot scheme for the restructuring of secured and unsecured distressed consumer debt across multiple lenders. The aim of the pilot framework is to achieve sustainable and fair outcomes without the need for the borrower to enter the full insolvency process. It is focused on enhancing cooperation between lenders of secured and unsecured debt in order to resolve distressed debt at an early stage.

The framework produced by the Central Bank establishes a series of principles to be applied in debt restructuring solutions for borrowers. In particular it outlines a ‘Resolution Waterfall’ which sets out a series of debt affordability scenarios. Treatments will be applied to the borrower’s debts in order to establish the most appropriate, affordable modification that sets the borrower on a sustainable footing for the remaining period of the loans.

The framework will be implemented on a pilot basis by participating lenders using a representative sample of 750 borrowers who are experiencing significant financial difficulty repaying the mortgage on the family home and who have other unsecured debt. The pilot scheme will run for three months from the end of June and will conclude with a thorough review of all results to evaluate the effectiveness of the framework in dealing with such cases and to determine next steps.

The Central Bank has advised that it has been agreed among the lender participants to use an independent third party service provider as the most appropriate way to engage with borrowers, whose consent to participate will be sought. I am informed by the Central Bank that discussions are underway to determine the most appropriate provider and that no decision has yet been made. However I understand that an important consideration for the Central Bank, due to the short timelines involved, is the ability of the provider to provide an effective and efficient service at short notice.

To be eligible for the Framework, a borrower must be co-operating with his lenders, as defined in the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA). It will apply to borrowers experiencing financial difficulty but who have taken reasonable steps to maximise income and curtail expenditure. All existing protections afforded by the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code and the CCMA will continue to apply to participating borrowers. The Framework will not include borrowers with buy-to-let or business related debts.

  Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 107.

Bank Interest Rates

 112. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if representations have been made by commercial banks urging him to request that An Post reduce its deposit interest rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23570/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As I indicated to the Deputy in a PQ reply in January of this year, officials of my Department regularly engage with the commercial banks on a wide range of issues, including the cost of funding.

The NTMA is responsible for the State Savings schemes which includes Savings Certificates, Savings Bonds, Prize Bonds, the National Solidarity Bond and Instalment Savings, as well as the Deposit Accounts such as the Ordinary Deposit Account and the Deposit Account Plus which are managed on behalf of the NTMA by An Post. The NTMA keeps the suite of State Savings products and the interest rates paid on them under constant review to ensure that the products remain competitive and attractive to retail investors, while balancing the funding requirements and financing costs of the State.

In December 2012, my Department received a submission from the NTMA, for my approval, to reduce the interest rates on State Savings products (including deposit interest rates), thereby lowering the cost of funding for the State for new funds. I approved the new rates proposed in the light of trends in interest rates in the domestic market generally.

State Savings Value

 113. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will set out in tabular form the total amount of funds held in deposit accounts at An Post at the end of each year from 2008 to 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23571/13]

 114. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will set out in tabular form the total amount of funds held in An Post saving certificates and savings bonds at the end of each year from 2008 to 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23572/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.

  State Savings is the brand name used by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to describe the range of savings products offered by the State to personal savers. An Post is an agent of the NTMA in respect of the sale of the State Savings product range which includes Savings Bonds, Savings Certificates, Instalments Savings, National Solidarity Bonds, Prize Bonds and Deposit Accounts.

  An Post does not retain or manage any State Savings, all of which vest in the Minister for Finance. Accordingly, State Savings are not included in the financial statements of An Post.

  The NTMA has advised that the level of outstanding Savings Bonds, Savings Certificates and Deposit Accounts in the years 2008 to 2012 are as follows-

  €m AMOUNT OUTSTANDING AT END:

State Savings Product
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012*
Savings Bonds
1,952
2,761
4,239
4,782
5,568
Savings Certificates
2,533
3,104
3,957
4,233
4,791
Deposit Accounts
1,771
1,892
2,342
2,518
2,774
  *2012 figures are provisional, unaudited figures.

Property Taxation Collection

 115. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will consider extending the deadline for property tax returns in view of the fact the many persons who do not have the option to file online have not yet received their forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23636/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As I have indicated to the House on a number of occasions, most recently in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 87 (20652/13) and 92 (20686/13) on 1 May, liable persons who have not yet received an LPT Return from Revenue must still self-assess the amount of LPT due, complete and file their LPT Return by the relevant deadline and pay the tax due. In my previous replies I also indicated that the logistics of ensuring that the chosen payment option can be activated in good time for the July payment date determines the closing date for paper return filing of 7 May 2013. The e-filing closing date of 28 May 2013 is the de facto extension to this date.

  While the due date for filing paper LPT returns has now passed, a number of options are available to property owners for filing their returns electronically by the 28 May filing deadline. Depending on the customer’s requirements, one of the following options will address their particular needs.

- For property owners for whom e-filing is not practical, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the legislation provides that another person may file an LPT Return online on their behalf.

- Property owners can also visit their local Revenue office where computers and assistance to file online will be available.

- A further option includes contacting the LPT helpline on 1890 200 255 (mobile phone users can contact the helpline on 01 702 3049) to file a Return online.

  Where, due to recent publicity about the attempted mis-use of credit card details, a property owner does not wish to give their credit or debit card details over the phone, if they own a single property, they can file online through the LPT helpline and opt to make their payment through deduction at source from their salary, occupational pension or pension from the Department of Social Protection, by cheque or in cash to one of three service providers. It should also be noted that the credit card holder will not be held liable where the card is used without their proper authorisation.

  Given the range of options that have been made available by Revenue to assist people experiencing any difficulty in meeting their LPT obligations, and the fact that owners of residential properties have already filed in excess of 700,000 returns and utilised the different payment options, I am very satisfied with the current arrangements that Revenue has in place and the communication of these arrangements to the public.

  Therefore, I do not propose, nor is it practicable given the logistics involved, to extend the closing date or nor do I consider that any changes to Revenue’s procedures are required in the run-up to the online LPT Return filing date.

FÁS Training Programmes

 116. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on whether work training opportunities, for those who do not access third level education should be provided to sufferers from narcolepsy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23534/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon FÁS Training Programmes are open to all unemployed individuals. In relation to determining the eligibility of unemployed individuals to participate in FÁS Training Programmes this is generally a matter for the Department of Social Protection.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

 117. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on whether continuing educational supports at primary and secondary level, following consultation assessment to include special needs assistant resource hours, facilities to nap and so on help during exams, exam concessions, home tuition and so on additional funding for grinds and so on should be made available to make up for missed school hours for sufferers of the unique narcolepsy disorder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23535/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has provided information to schools in relation to the condition of Narcolepsy and to provide guidance to schools on the accommodations which can be made in schools to assist such children.

I can also advise that a number of meetings have taken place between officials at my Department along with those from the Department of Health, with representatives from SOUND (Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder) to consider the educational supports which may be provided for such children and the criteria for accessing such supports, based on the assessed individual needs of children.

The range of supports which may be provided for children who are suffering from serious medical conditions such as Narcolepsy, based on assessment, include:

- Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, for children who have a medical condition such that they require access to care support in order to be able to attend school;

- Home Tuition support which can provide a compensatory educational service to children who have had major disruption to their attendance at school due their medical condition;

- Schools may provide additional Learning Support/Resource Teaching assistance in school;

- Special arrangements for State Examinations.

  The educational supports required in each instance are considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the children. Arrangements are made with the State Exam Commission each year, to address issues in relation to the reasonable accommodations which can be made for children with narcolepsy taking state exams each year, in conjuction with the children's schools.

State Examinations Issues

 118. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will consider withholding the results of leaving certificate exams for students of a foreign based school (details supplied) until the wages of 17 Irish teachers have been paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23372/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The International School of Martyrs (ISM) is a private educational institution located in Tripoli, Libya. The Irish Leaving Certificate examination is offered each year to candidates in the school. The role of the State Examinations Commission (SEC) is to provide examinations to candidates who have been entered for either the Junior or Leaving Certificate and in this regard I am informed by the SEC that it engages with the ISM school authorities on the delivery of the Leaving Certificate examinations for students from the school. For the purpose of the examination system ISM candidates are bound by the same rules and programmes as all other pupils taking the examinations, pay their examination fees to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) and sit their examinations under the same conditions.

Teachers working at ISM are directly recruited and engaged as employees of that school. Their terms and conditions are private contractual matters between themselves and the school authorities. Neither the SEC nor my Department has a role in relation to internal management or contractual issues between school employees and their employers.


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