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 Header Item Tillage Sector: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)
 Header Item Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2016: Order for Second Stage
 Header Item Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2016: Second Stage

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 935 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue] I also want to acknowledge the role played by my colleagues, Deputy Cahill, and Senator Paul Daly working alongside me on the agriculture committee. Senator Daly has also pushed this issue in the Seanad. I particularly want to acknowledge the effort made by the farmers who came here today and are in the Visitors Gallery. They are putting pressure on in order to get the support they need and have genuinely requested.

In his response, I detected a softening of the Minister's stance. It is unfortunate that we have had to push the matter this far. It is also unfortunate that we have not had a fund until now. Farmers, including those here today, who have been affected by the bad harvest have had to face bills sitting on their table. Many of them are considering their financial situation and their ability to remain in the tillage sector. The Minister appeared to say that he is willing to go to the Tillage Forum to consider how a scheme might work. That is what I picked up from his response, but I hope he was not giving some false hope. The matter should not be allowed to drop.

I have no doubt that the motion before us will be passed overwhelmingly. It urges the Government to engage further with the IFA, other farming organisations and with the Tillage Forum to scope out how a fund could be put in place to provide the necessary assistance for those who have lost their crops. I will leave it to the Minister to do that.

Considering the strong support in the Dáil, the fact that our motion will be overwhelmingly supported, and in light of the Minister opening the door to explore this further, I ask him to withdraw the Government amendment. He should not force this to a vote, but take the matter forward by engaging with and genuinely exploring the plight of those have been significantly affected by a poor harvest.

I endorse the motion and thank everyone for their support. I encourage the Minister to deliver a compensation fund scheme.

  Amendment put.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 19 January 2017.

Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2016: Order for Second Stage

  Bill entitled an Act to provide for the repeal of section 30 of the Communications Regulations (Postal Services) Act 2011; to amend the Communications Regulation Act 2002 to confer additional functions on the Commission for Communications Regulation relating to the repeal of section 30; and to provide for related matters.

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I move: "That Second Stage be taken now."

   Question put and agreed to.

Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2016: Second Stage

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am pleased to have the opportunity to present this Bill for the consideration of the House. First, however, I want to extend apologies on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Naughten, who unfortunately has been unable to attend the House today. I would like to wish him a speedy recovery following his cycling accident over the Christmas period.

This Bill is a relatively short legislative proposal, the purpose of which is to repeal section 30 of the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011, which sets out the mechanism for regulating postal pricing within the universal service using a price cap mechanism.

The mails business is undergoing a profound structural change both here and internationally. Electronic substitution has had a significant impact on the letters business, while also providing opportunities for growth in parcels. This development is particularly apparent in terms of large volume postal customers such as banks and utility providers.

The trend, which has been evident for some years, accelerated in 2016 with An Post recording a doubling year-on-year volume decline, resulting in a serious financial impact for the company. In addition, the impact of a 2.5% Labour Court pay recommendation has added further pressure to an already delicate financial situation. Each 1% decline in mail volume equates to a loss of revenue for An Post of €4 million and a 1% increase in pay adds €4.5 million to payroll.

The mails business still generates almost two thirds of An Post’s revenue and represents 78% of company payroll. That explains why the volume decline and Labour Court award has had such an impact on the company’s financial base.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock Gabh mo leithscéal, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Is the Minister of State distributing copies of his speech?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I have just asked for them.

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock Thank you very much.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne As I mentioned, internationally the mail and post offices businesses are experiencing long-term structural challenges and this is not just an issue solely related to An Post. One of the main elements of the postal service in Ireland is the daily delivery of post to every address in the State. The Government is extremely cognisant of the value placed on this service by communities in both rural and urban areas, and recognises the importance of ensuring that An Post has the capacity to continue to fulfil its obligations in this regard.


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