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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Companies (Amendment) Bill 2014: First Stage
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2014

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 828 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald] Both are being worked on actively. I will inform Deputy Kelleher when there is a likely date of publication.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald In respect of the health (amendment) (No. 2) Bill, is this the legislation the Tánaiste envisages will deal with the health service provisions for the survivors of the Magdalen Laundries, including those survivors who live outside the State. There has been toing and froing between the Departments of Health and Justice and Equality on this issue and we are no clearer as to how that will be resolved.

As the Tánaiste knows, Mount Carmel Hospital in south Dublin is due to close. Are there any plans for this private facility to become a public hospital and is legislation required?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett A Topical Issue matter has been agreed on that subject. It is not a matter for the Order of Business.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is a health (provision of general practitioner services) Bill which is to be published this session and a health (amendment) Bill which is to be published this year. I am not sure which piece of legislation addresses the issue raised by Deputy McDonald. I will check and ask the Minister for Health to let her know.

Companies (Amendment) Bill 2014: First Stage

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for a system of examinership that will reduce the costs and time involved for companies falling below certain threshold sizes, by amending the Companies (Amendment) Act 1990.

The Bill seeks to improve the examinership process. It seeks to build on some good work the Minister has already done in moving the examinership process from the High Court to the Circuit Court. I am working with senior counsel on putting the Bill together and with a solicitor, Barry Lyons, who has handled over half of the examinerships that have taken place in Ireland over the last 12 years.

  The problem with the current examinership process, for many companies that are viable, is that it is too expensive and can cost north of €150,000, and that creditors can act in a mischievous manner and can keep the company in court and essentially muscle it out of the examinership process. In the process, there are foreign banks looking to get out of the country which have security on something called on-demand loans. What is happening to many viable small and medium companies throughout the country is that an examiner - an independent accountant - is appointed, the courts approve the examinership process so the jobs and the company can be saved, but the bank insists on security against the asset. The bank activates the on-demand nature of the asset and, in doing so, forces the viable company to try to borrow far more money than it can in these capital constrained times.

  The Bill addresses all of these issues. What the Bill does is to bring the examiner, the directors of the company and the creditors together outside of the courts, so they do not incur all of those costs. It allows for a quasi-judicial process where there is recourse to the courts at any stage for any party. We have put a clause into the legislation which means the court ultimately must give approval and rubber-stamp it. However, instead of all of the parties having to go to court armed with their various counsel and, therefore, costing everybody a lot of money, the method is much more like the new insolvency service, where the papers, if non-contested, go to the court, the judge makes sure everything is in order and then gives judicial approval and judicial authority to the examinership process.

  It is my belief that if this Bill can be taken on and brought into law some time this year, there are many small and medium enterprises across the country that can be saved that otherwise will not be saved. I will not be presenting the Bill as a fait accompli. I accept it will need to be improved through the legislative process. Obviously, as I am not a Cabinet member, I do not have access to the Attorney General's office or to the sort of policy weight the Cabinet would have. The Bill will be presented here on Tuesday on Second Stage and I would very much welcome the expertise of the Government and the Civil Service in getting it right, ensuring it is constitutional and ensuring it does not unfairly prejudice various parties involved.

  The people who, with me, have put this Bill together have, I believe, more expertise in this area than anyone in the country. We have worked very hard on it. We have had some very generous input from the Minister. I do not know whether he will accept the Bill but, certainly, it is our belief that if this Bill is accepted through Second Stage, and if it can be amended as necessary to guard for its constitutionality and to bring in whatever other good ideas Members of the House may have, there are many jobs that can be saved and fantastic companies which will be able to successfully avail of the examinership process, which they are not currently able to do.

  I welcomed and voted for what the Minister did in December, which was to move the process from the High Court to the Circuit Court. This is the next step. This is the step that says we can reduce the cost of examinership from, say, €150,000 to €20,000, and we can reduce the re-financing requirements post-examinership. I will be sending Deputies an explanatory memorandum, a question and answer sheet and the draft Bill in the next 48 hours or so. We have a worked example which shows that under the current legislation the company would have to re-finance approximately €400,000 whereas under the new legislation it would have to find some €70,000.

  As I said, I am not presenting this as a perfectly finished piece of legislation as, obviously, I do not have the resources to do that. However, it is being presented in a spirit of co-operation, although I accept some aspects will have to change. I hope the Minister and the Government will have a think about whether this can pass Second Stage and whether, over this year, we can work to tick the boxes, make it work and, I believe, save an awful lot of jobs in this country over the next few years.

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

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton No.

  Question put and agreed to.

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

Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2014

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The next item is the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2014-----

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming On a point of order, given we are dealing with the Revised Estimates, during the Order of Business the Tánaiste indicated that he was not aware of any request from a committee to vary-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No, this is purely a technical issue. The Deputy can vote against the motion.

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming Sorry, a Cheann Comhairle. You can help us.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No, I cannot. I have no say at all in this.

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming There is a question you can help us with.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will you please resume your seat? I will not ask you a second time.

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming There is a question you can help us with. It is bad enough we are not being allowed to vote on these.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sit down, please. Thank you.

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

Vote 1 - President's Establishment (Revised Estimate).
That a sum not exceeding €3,267,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Secretary General to the President, for certain other expenses of the President's Establishment and for certain grants.

Vote 2 - Department of the Taoiseach (Revised Estimate).
That a sum not exceeding €19,423,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain services administered by the Department and for payment of grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 3 - Office of the Attorney General.
That a sum not exceeding €14,301,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Attorney General, including a grant-in-aid.

Vote 4 — Central Statistics Office (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €39,577,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Central Statistics Office.

Vote 5 — Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €36,838,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Vote 6 — Office of the Chief State Solicitor (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €26,309,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Chief State Solicitor.

Vote 7 — Office of the Minister for Finance (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €31,200,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Finance, including the Paymaster-General’s Office, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 8 — Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €5,922,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Vote 9 — Office of the Revenue Commissioners (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €320,463,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, including certain other services administered by that Office.

Vote 10 — Office of the Appeal Commissioners (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €477,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Appeal Commissioners.

Vote 11 — Public Expenditure and Reform (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €35,898,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 12 — Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €362,550,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for pensions, superannuation, occupational injuries, and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts 1834 to 2004 and sundry other statutes; extra-statutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, fees to medical referees and occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; fees to Pensions Board; miscellaneous payments, etc.

Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €354,146,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for services administered by that Office including the National Procurement Service, for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure.

Vote 14 — State Laboratory (Revised Estimate). 

That a sum not exceeding €7,795,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory.

Vote 15 — Secret Service (Revised Estimate). 

That a sum not exceeding €1,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the Secret Service.

Vote 16 — Valuation Office (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €8,904,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Valuation Office and certain minor services.

Vote 17 — Public Appointments Service (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €6,757,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service.

Vote 18 — Shared Services (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €30,581,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of Shared Services.

Vote 19 — Office of the Ombudsman (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €7,743,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Commission for Public Service appointments, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.

Vote 20 — Garda Síochána (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €1,239,488,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Garda Síochána, including pensions, etc.; for the payment of certain witnesses’ expenses, and for payment of a grant-in-aid.

Vote 21 — Prisons (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €308,545,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Prison Service, and other expenses in connection with prisons, including places of detention; for probation services; and for payment of a grant-in-aid, and that a sum not exceeding €2,400,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 22 — Courts Service (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €58,030,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for such of the salaries and expenses of the Courts Service and of the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Special Criminal Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court and of certain other minor services as are not charged to the Central Fund.

Vote 23 — Property Registration Authority (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €30,108,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Property Registration Authority.

Vote 24 — Justice and Equality (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €324,596,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Probation Service staff and of certain other services including payments under cash-limited schemes administered by that Office, and payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 25 — Environment, Community and Local Government (Revised Estimate). 

That a sum not exceeding €738,881,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, including grants to Local Authorities, grants and other expenses in connection with housing, water services, miscellaneous schemes, subsidies and grants, and that a sum not exceeding €72,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 26 — Education and Skills (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €7,848,544,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education and Skills, for certain services administered by that Office, and for the payments of certain grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 27 — International Co-operation (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €478,013,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for certain Official Development Assistance, including certain grants-in-aid, and for contributions to certain International Organisations involved in Development Assistance and for salaries and expenses in connection therewith.

Vote 28 — Foreign Affairs and Trade (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €167,236,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and for certain services administered by that Office, including grants-in-aid and contributions to International Organisations, and that a sum not exceeding €570,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 29 — Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €194,506,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and sundry grants-in-aid, and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €8,500,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 30 — Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €958,103,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, including certain services administered by that Office, and of the Irish Land Commission and for payment of certain grants, subsidies and sundry grants-in-aid and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes and the remediation of Haulbowline Island, and that a sum not exceeding €16,800,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 31 — Transport, Tourism and Sport (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €1,275,589,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, including certain services administered by that Office, for payment of certain grants, grants-in-aid and certain other services, and that a sum not exceeding €4,800,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 32 — Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €732,074,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, including certain services administered by that Office, for the payment of certain subsidies, grants and a grant-in-aid, and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €23,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 33 — Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €259,457,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain subsidies, grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 34 — National Gallery (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €7,274,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the National Gallery, including grants-in-aid.

Vote 35 — Army Pensions (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €215,390,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for retired pay, pensions, compensation, allowances and gratuities payable under sundry statutes to or in respect of members of the Defence Forces and certain other Military Organisations, etc., and for sundry contributions and expenses in connection therewith; for certain extra-statutory children’s allowances and other payments and for sundry grants.

Vote 36 — Defence (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €640,291,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Defence, including certain services administered by that Office; for the pay and expenses of the Defence Forces; and for payment of certain grants-in-aid, and that a sum not exceeding €900,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 37 — Social Protection (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €11,856,900,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Social Protection, for certain services administered by that Office, for payments to the Social Insurance Fund and for certain grants, and that a sum not exceeding €1,050,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 38 — Health (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €201,969,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Health and certain other services administered by that Office, including miscellaneous grants.

Vote 39 — Health Service Executive (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €11,552,496,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Health Service Executive and certain other services administered by the Executive, including miscellaneous grants.

Vote 40 — Children and Youth Affairs (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €974,267,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, for certain services administered by that Office and for the payment of grants including certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €2,576,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 41 — Office of Government Procurement (Revised Estimate).

That a sum not exceeding €12,431,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Government Procurement."


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