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 Header Item Migrant Earned Regularisation Bill 2015: First Stage
 Header Item Standing Orders: Motion
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2015

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 870 No. 3

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Migrant Earned Regularisation Bill 2015: First Stage

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for the establishment of a scheme to enable certain foreign nationals whose presence within the State is other than in accordance with a permission granted by or on behalf of the Minister to apply for and earn permission to remain within the State; to manage the implementation of such scheme, and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Members will be aware of the position of the undocumented Irish in the US and many Members of both Houses have made careers out of campaigning on behalf of them. That is all very well and it is an activity that all of us support but, equally, a significant community of people in this country are categorised as undocumented. It is a reality to which we, as legislators and as a society, must face up.

  People become undocumented in Ireland for many reasons but they can be categorised as visa overstayers. They are undocumented and unaccounted for by the State. They enter the State on student or holiday visas or work permits and they overstay their permission to remain here. It is estimated that there are 30,000 undocumented migrants, including children. By virtue of the children's referendum, these children do not have any status in this country and they will face many challenges when they seek to leave the schooling system. It is estimated that 90% of the 30,000 undocumented are working and one third of them pay tax and PRSI and contribute to the Exchequer but, unfortunately, the remaining two thirds work in the shadow or grey economy. That puts them in a vulnerable position. Many of them are paid less than the minimum wage and this also has the effect of suppressing official wage rates. Research has shown that the majority of these people work in the restaurant and catering industry, cleaning and maintenance sectors and as domestic workers. The vast majority are Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian and Pakistani.

  The proposed scheme will not result in an amnesty. The legislation provides for a six month window during which people will be allowed to apply for entry to the scheme. Once people present with an application and can demonstrate that they have been in the State for more than 24 months, they can be accepted under the scheme. When they are accepted, they will be given permission to reside and work in the State for one year. That permission will be renewable annually for a four year period and over the five years of the scheme, applicants will have to earn a number of credits under different categories, including language proficiency, contribution to the State and payment of their obligations in tax, PRSI and USC. Once they have demonstrated that they have reached a credit threshold, they will be granted a long-term permission to stay. It is significant that once they are regularised, they will be allowed to function more normally within the economy. Hopefully, the vast majority of them will move from the shadow economy into the official economy and contribute properly, which will have a significant upside for the economy.

  There are also strong humanitarian grounds for regularising them. According to testimony from undocumented migrants, they find themselves trapped. They can leave the State but if they do, they will be unable to return. They work here to support and educate their families in their native countries and they miss significant family events such as funerals and marriages and milestones in their children's lives.

  It makes strong economic sense to introduce a scheme such as this. It is estimated it would yield the Exchequer almost €18 million per annum. There would also be a significant upside to bringing most of these people out of the shadow economy into the official economy. It would also prevent mass deportations, particularly since many of these people have put down roots here.

  The options the Government has regarding this cohort of people is to do nothing, which is what it is doing; enter into a programme of mass deportations, which would not be socially acceptable and would be financially prohibitive or impractical; or to deal with the issue by regularising those who are working and have put down significant roots in every community throughout the country. This is the right thing to do and I hope the Government will give the Bill a fair hearing on Second Stage with a view to its progression.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Is the Bill opposed?

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

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

    Question put and agreed to.

Standing Orders: Motion

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

That, pursuant to Standing Order 99(1)(a), the Committee on Procedure and Privileges recommends that the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business are hereby amended by the adoption of the following as an additional Standing Order:

Discharge from Committee

'107J. (1) Where a member of a Committee which is conducting a Part 2 inquiry contravenes a direction given to him or her by the Chairman to cease particular questioning, the Committee may agree to report to the Dáil, recommending that the member in question be discharged from the Committee.

(2) Where a Committee which is conducting a Part 2 inquiry considers that one of its members has contravened a requirement of the Inquiries Act applicable to the Part 2 inquiry, and, in the opinion of the Committee, the contravention is a serious contravention, the Committee may agree to report to the Dáil‒
(a) specifying the relevant section of the Inquiries Act containing the requirement which has been contravened, and the evidence relating to the contravention;

and

(b) recommending that the member in question be discharged from the Committee.
(3) In performing its functions under paragraph (2), the Committee shall at all times have due regard to the Constitutional principles of basic fairness of procedures and the requirements of natural and Constitutional justice.

(4) As soon as is practicable after its adoption of a report under paragraph (1) or paragraph (2), the Committee shall lay the report before the Dáil, and the Chairman shall table a motion, as soon as is practicable, proposing that the Dáil takes note of the recommendation in the report and discharges the member in question from the Committee.

(5) The Dáil shall consider a motion under paragraph (4) as soon as is practicable.

(6) The provisions of Standing Order 107G shall not apply to a report under this Standing Order.

(7) References in this Standing Order to "the Inquiries Act" are references to the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013.'

    Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2015

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 €3,444,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €27,022,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain services administered by the Department and for payment of grants.

Vote 3 — Office of the Attorney General (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €15,030,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Attorney General, including a grant.

Vote 4 — Central Statistics Office (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €52,836,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €37,834,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €26,966,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €30,617,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

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

That a sum not exceeding €6,682,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €329,481,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €775,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €40,610,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

Vote 12 — Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €370,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €369,848,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €8,049,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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, 2015, for Secret Service.

Vote 16 — Valuation Office (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €9,145,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €8,204,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service.
Vote 18 — Shared Services (Revised Estimate)
That a sum not exceeding €39,033,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of Shared Services and that a sum not exceeding €998,000 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 19 — Office of the Ombudsman (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €8,738,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €1,348,273,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Garda Síochána, including pensions, etc.; for the payment of certain witnesses’ expenses, and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 21 — Prisons (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €310,243,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 certain grants.

Vote 22 — Courts Service (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €60,150,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for such of the salaries and expenses of the Courts Service and of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, 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 €30,311,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Property Registration Authority.

Vote 24 — Justice and Equality (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €311,126,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

Vote 25 — Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €6,190,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 26 — Education and Skills (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €8,012,125,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

Vote 27 — International Co-operation (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €475,473,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for certain Official Development Assistance, including certain grants 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 €164,958,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 and contributions to International Organisations.

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

That a sum not exceeding €173,133,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €4,600,000 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 €772,579,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes and the remediation of Haulbowline Island, and that a sum not exceeding €18,000,000 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 31 — Transport, Tourism and Sport (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,215,932,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 and certain other services, and that a sum not exceeding €29,105,000 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 €740,412,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 and grants and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes, and that a sum not exceeding €20,000,000 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 €272,829,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 and grants, and that a sum not exceeding €6,216,000 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 34 — Environment, Community and Local Government (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,281,399,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

Vote 35 — Army Pensions (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €215,590,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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 €639,404,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

Vote 37 — Social Protection (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €11,068,263,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

Vote 38 — Health (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €12,221,200,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Health and certain other services administered by that Office, including grants to the Health Service Executive and miscellaneous grants.

Vote 39 — Office of Government Procurement (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €18,974,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Government Procurement, and that a sum not exceeding €125,000 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 40 — Children and Youth Affairs (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,000,011,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2015, 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.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to present the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2015, which have been considered in great deal by the relevant select committee over the past number of weeks. In line with the revised budgetary timetable introduced as part of the two pack, the Revised Estimates were published on 18 December 2014 and this has allowed for much earlier consideration of them by Members than has been the practice during my time in the House. The revised Book of Estimates for 2015 sets out gross voted expenditure amounting to €53.2 billion. In addition, the book sets out the performance targets and outputs for all Departments for the coming year which will allow for greater oversight and accountability to ensure public resources are having the desired impact. This is an innovation to ensure we are not simply considering the money allocated but also what we expect the outcome of those allocations to be.

  I will outline the economic and fiscal background against which the Revised Estimates were drafted. The recovery in the economy has firmly taken hold and we expect that the momentum generated last year will continue this year. While the Central Statistics Office will publish the quarterly national accounts for the fourth quarter of 2014 over the coming weeks, in the period to the end of September 2014 our economy grew by 5% in real terms compared to the same period in 2013. This means that Ireland became Europe's fastest growing economy last year and our latest economic forecasts suggest that we will continue to grow strongly in 2015.

  As economic recovery continues to broaden, the labour market has made substantial progress in regaining the devastating employment losses following the economy's collapse in 2008. Unemployment, having peaked at more than 15% in 2012, has been reduced to just over 10% as of February 2015. There is every expectation that if it has not reached single digits already, it will do so early this year. The number of people signing on the live register, having peaking at more than 470,000 in 2011, fell by a further 40,000 last year to stand at 360,000. As a clear sign that the Government's prioritisation of job creation is paying dividends, an additional 30,000 jobs were created in 2014, an increase of 1.5% over the previous year. Overall, employment has increased every year since 2012 with the result that almost 115,000 new jobs have been created in the economy since then. However, while we recognise that the Government has made significant progress in returning the unemployed to work, joblessness in Ireland remains too high and our efforts will focus on lowering it further over the short and medium term.


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