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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 163-174
 Header Item Gender Recognition
 Header Item An Fhoireann Rannach
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals
 Header Item Motor Insurance Regulation
 Header Item Tax Rebates
 Header Item Central Bank of Ireland Staff
 Header Item Gross National Income
 Header Item Tax Reliefs Eligibility
 Header Item Living City Initiative
 Header Item Tax Rebates
 Header Item Mortgage Lending

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 163-174

Gender Recognition

 163. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if he will ensure that the revised general scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill 2014 is amended, to remove the fact that the proposed criteria for 16 and 17 year olds to access the legislation requires parental consent letters from two physicians and a court order and that trans persons must be single in order to have their gender legally recognised. [47271/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Revised General Scheme of the Gender Recognition Bill, published in June of this year, was the culmination of an extensive consultation process – including consideration by the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection of the earlier version of the General Scheme of the Bill, published in 2013.

The provisions contained in the Revised General Scheme in relation to 16/17 year olds seek to strike the appropriate balance between enabling such persons to acquire a gender recognition certificate and safeguarding and protecting their interests at a vulnerable age.

There are particular constitutional difficulties which arise in relation to married people seeking a gender recognition certificate. The Revised General Scheme of the Bill retains the requirement that an applicant for gender recognition be single, pending the outcome of the referendum on same-sex marriage.

The arrangements to be provided for in the Bill, which will be published shortly, have at their core a genuine commitment on the part of the Government to enabling transgender persons to be recognised for all purposes in their preferred gender.

An Fhoireann Rannach

 164. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Tánaiste agus Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton cén líon daoine atá ag obair ina Roinn faoi láthair atá inniúil ar a chuid nó a cuid oibre a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge; cén céatadán den fhoireann atá i gceist; comparáid a dhéanamh idir na figiúirí sin agus na figiúirí céanna in 2004, 1994, 1984 agus 1974 [47292/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Tá breis agus 300 comhalta foirne ag an Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí a luaigh, mar chuid de shuirbhé ar an bhfoireann ar tugadh faoi go déanach in 2012, go bhfuil siad toilteanach agus go bhfuil sé ar chumas acu, faoi láthair, tabhairt faoina gcuid oibre trí Ghaeilge. Is ionann seo agus 4.5% den líon foirne atá i mbun feidhme faoi láthair.

Tá pleananna ann chun painéal d’oifigigh a labhraíonn an Ghaeilge a bhunú mar chuid den fheachtas reatha Oifigeach Cléireachais a bhfuil an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí ag tabhairt faoi. Bainfidh seo, chomh maith, leis an bhfeachtas um oifigeach Feidhmiúcháin a bheidh ag teacht aníos. D’fhéadfadh seo méadú a chur ar an líon foirne sa Roinn atá inniúil chun seirbhís a sholáthar i nGaeilge.

Níl fáil ar aon sonraí stairiúla do na blianta eile a d’iarr an Leas-Oifigeach.

Social Welfare Appeals

 165. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will be reached on a BASIC appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47322/14]

 166. Deputy Jack Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a decision will be reached on a BASIC appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47344/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer on 3 December 2014 who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Motor Insurance Regulation

 167. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views that it is acceptable for insurance companies to charge an age loading for vehicles above a certain age limit even in circumstances where the vehicle owner has an up to date NCT certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47239/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan In my role as Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. The provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter for insurance companies and is based on an assessment of the risks they are accepting and adequate provisioning to meet these risks. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland, as regulator, interfere in the pricing of insurance products.

  The EU framework for insurance expressly prohibits Member States adopting rules which require the prior approval or systematic notification of certain matters, including general and special policy conditions and scales of premiums. Furthermore, in the context of non-life insurance, which includes public indemnity insurance, the EU framework provides non-life insurers with the freedom to set premiums.  This has been acknowledged by the European Court of Justice. 

  The Central Bank does not regulate premiums in the insurance market. Insurance companies consider a number of risks when determining the premium for a proposed insurance policy, whether that is a general insurance policy such as motor or home insurance, or a life assurance policy. A premium is based on the actuarial calculation of risk.

  Consumers are encouraged to shop around at the time of insurance renewal. The National Consumer Agency has information which may assist a consumer to shop around.  It can be found at 
http://www.consumerhelp.ie/getting-insurance-quotes#Shopping  .

Tax Rebates

 168. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reason for the delay in issuing a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 their tax rebate by cheque; if this rebate will be issued to them as soon as possible. [46739/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan  I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant repayment claim was received and processed on 13 August 2014.  On 14 August a refund was credited by electronic fund transfer to the bank account then on record for the person concerned, the details of which had been previously provided to Revenue by that person.  On 16 September the person concerned advised Revenue that he no longer had access to the account in question and confirmed that he had not received the repayment.  Revenue has since been endeavouring to recoup the money transferred to that account. The repayment claim has now been re-processed and a cheque is issuing to the person concerned today, 9 December 2014.

Central Bank of Ireland Staff

 169. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide in tabular form the number of contract, outsourced staff currently employed at the Central Bank of Ireland; the roles these contract staff perform; the daily salary for each role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46751/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As Minister for Finance, I have no role in the employment of staff in the Central Bank. Under the Central Bank Act 1942, the Central Bank Commission is responsible for administrating the staffing of the Central Bank with a view to enabling the Central Bank to perform and exercise its functions and powers.

  I have been informed by the Central Bank that there are currently 53 contractors engaged by the Central Bank. The number of contractors varies from time to time and is determined by the business needs of the Central Bank. These roles vary from temporary roles such as the provision of maternity leave cover to the engagement of specialists. These contractors are engaged via the completion of competitive tender processes. These numbers include a significant number of IT resources and reflects the current number of IT projects underway at the Central Bank and also the dynamics of the IT market place.

  The daily rate paid is determined by the role performed.  For commercial reasons it is not possible for the Central Bank to disclose individual daily rates, however the Central Bank has informed me that the average daily rate paid to these contractors is €500 (excluding VAT).

  The Central Bank has provided me with the following breakdown of contract staff currently engaged by the Central Bank.

Role Number of Contractors
Solution Developers and Designers18
Quality and Test Resources12
Temporary Administrators8
Project Managers 7
Service Desk Agents5
Business Systems Analysts3
Total Number of contract, outsourced staff53

Gross National Income

 170. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Ireland’s gross national income for the past three years if redomiciled public limited companies would have been excluded; and the amount by which Ireland’s contribution to the EU budget would have been reduced if these redomiciled public limited companies were excluded from the GNI figures for these years. [46758/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Research by  the Central Bank and ESRI in recent years has highlighted the decisions of several large multinational corporations to re-locate their corporate headquarters to Ireland since 2008. Typically, this does not involve the shift of substantive activity to Ireland or liability for tax. However, it does mean that corporate income on worldwide activity is recorded as a credit (an income inflow) on the Irish current account, improving the balance.  These such companies are regularly referred to as re-domiciled PLCs.

  Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimates of the net effect on primary income in the current account of the Irish Balance of Payments of these re-domiciled PLCs, is set out in the table below.  These are also the amounts that contribute to Irish net factor income in the National Accounts, and consequently GNI.

  The relative level of a Member State's GNI vis-a-vis that of other Member States is the primary determinant of its contribution towards the EU budget. The table below also sets out the upward impact on Ireland's EU  budget contributions.  It is estimated that the impact on Ireland's EU budget contribution for 2013 is of the order of €60 million.

  Please note that Irish GNP/GNI statisitics are produced to meet required international standards and that these companies are correctly included in Ireland's National Accounts and Balance of Payments statistics under the standards set by the UN, the IMF, Eurostat and the ECB.  Any estimates of GNP or GNI excluding these companies are not official statistics and have no legal status. 

20112012 2013
Net effect of re-domiciled plcs on current account (€m)5,6087,0976,841
Estimated impact on EU Budget contributions (€m)455560
  Source: CSO, Department of Finance calculations

Tax Reliefs Eligibility

 171. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the capital acquisitions tax relief in respect of agricultural land will be extended to farmers in disadvantaged areas who have to supplement their income outside of the farm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46833/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in applying the agricultural relief provisions of Section 89 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 (including that provision as currently being amended in Finance Bill 2014)  a farmer who has off-farm employment will not be refused  relief if he or she is either:

  - A farmer with an agricultural qualification or 

  - A farmer who does not have an agricultural qualification but who spends not less than 50% of his or her normal working time farming.

  In either case the farmer must farm the land on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits from the land.

  For the purposes of the 50% test Revenue will accept that "normal working time" (including  both on-farm and off-farm work) approximates to 40 hours per week so that, if a farmer works for 20 hours a week on average on the farm, the 50% test will be regarded as satisfied.  In this regard also, the Revenue Commissioners say that where a farmer's "normal working time" is not quite 40 hours a week but he or she can show that the land is being farmed on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits from the land, the relief will not be refused.

Living City Initiative

 172. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide an update on the Living City Initiative; when it is due to begin; if areas within the counties and cities initially announced have been identified; the buildings it will apply to in terms of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46905/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Officials from my Department have held preliminary discussions with the relevant local authorities to identify the areas of the six cities, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford, which might fall within the scope of the scheme. Each of the local authorities have now submitted proposals on the areas which they believe should be included. Further discussions will be held in due course. Following changes introduced in this year's Finance Bill, the residential element of the scheme will apply to all pre-1915 dwellings in the designated areas.

My officials have also been in contact with the EU Commission on the application for State Aid approval for the Initiative and this process is expected to be concluded shortly. I will not be announcing the areas to be designated until this approval has been received and the initiative is to be commenced. I would expect that I will be in a position to make an announcement in the near future, in conjunction with my cabinet colleagues and the local authorities concerned.

It is important to note that I do not see this as a wide-spread Initiative, as it is targeted at those areas which are most in need of attention.

Tax Rebates

 173. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the basis on which a person (details supplied) in County Mayo received a tax refund of €7,000 in 2003; the basis on which they are now being asked to pay that amount back the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46911/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person (details supplied) did not receive a tax refund in 2003 but the refund in question may relate to a repayment of tax which she received in September 2006 in respect of the year 2005.  

A repayment of €7,740 issued to the person in September 2006, based on information which she supplied to Revenue.  It was subsequently discovered that credit had been granted for an amount of tax which had not been paid by the person for the year in question.  Revenue was in correspondence with the person in July and August 2013 and an arrangement was agreed between the parties whereby the underpayment of tax would be collected over a four year period. 

However, the Revenue Commissioners will review the case and Mr Gerry Greene at Revenue's  Office in Michael Davitt House, Castlebar  (telephone 094 9037039) will contact the person concerned shortly.

Mortgage Lending

 174. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if any guidelines are in place in the new mortgage regulations for correct procedures with dealing with persons or a person who are refused mortgages because of mental health issues; in view of the State having played such a role in keeping banks solvent, his views that Government should play a bigger role in ensuring that persons who qualify through credit and monetary criteria, should not be refused based on mental health issues for which they are receiving treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46935/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Credit decisions are commercial matters for individual financial institutions. However, the Deputy should note that the Central Bank of Ireland's Consumer Protection Code 2012 (CPC) contains important protections for the consumers of financial services (including borrowers), by imposing 'Knowing the Consumer and Suitability' requirements on regulated financial institutions.  In particular, Provision 3.1 of the CPC details how a financial institution should deal with vulnerable customers (as identified in the CPC). In particular where a regulated entity has identified that a personal consumer is a vulnerable consumer, the regulated entity must ensure that the vulnerable consumer is provided with such reasonable arrangements and/or assistance that may be necessary to facilitate him or her in his or her dealings with the regulated entity.

Furthermore, chapter 5 of the CPC sets out requirements in relation to 'knowing the customer and suitability' prior to offering, recommending, arranging or providing a product or service to a consumer.  The level of information gathered should be appropriate to the nature of the particular product and must include details of the consumers' needs and objectives from the product or service, their personal circumstances, their financial situation and their attitude to risk. 

The CPC also sets out procedures for errors and complaints resolution and if a consumer is dissatisfied about the way a regulated entity has handled their particular case a complaint can be taken under these provisions.


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