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Bruton, Richard

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 Nbr. 3


Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Oil Company Takeover.

Was asked: the reason for refusing the Statoil takeover of Conoco; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The proposed takeover of Conoco by Statoil was notified to me on 9 November 1995 as required by the Mergers, Takeovers and Monopolies (Control) Acts. Having given careful consideration to the prop...More Button

I received the report of the Competition Authority on Friday, 9 February. The Authority concluded and unanimously recommended that the proposal should not be allowed to proceed. In making this rec...More Button

The following are the main reasons given by the Authority for recommending prohibition: first, the proposal would be likely to reduce competition and choice in the market for motor fuels within the...More Button

Second, the motor fuel market is already highly concentrated. The market share of the top four firms in 1995 was around 70 per cent. The proposal would result in a reduction in the number of sign...More Button

Third, Conoco has a reputation of being a low price operator while Statoil is seen as a high price operator. In the Authority's opinion the probability is that Statoil would not alter its strategy...More Button

Fourth, the proposal would lead to some reduction in employment although the total is unlikely to be high, approximately 35 plus.More Button

Having given careful consideration to the unanimous recommendation of the Authority, I decided to accept its recommendation. Accordingly, on Friday, 16 February, I made an order under section 9 of...More Button

Section 12 (1) of the Act provides that where the Minister makes an order under section 9 (1) an appeal on a point of law may be made to the High Court against the order within one month of the com...More Button

Correct.More Button

With regard to the sample, the data was provided by Conoco; it was included in details provided by one of the parties to the submission. I have no reason to believe it was a skewed sample.More Button

On the issue of delay, from the time a merger is first notified to when I will be in a position to decide whether to refer it, there will be a necessity — and there was in this case — f...More Button

The Deputy asked if this had created a precedent. There is some misunderstanding in this area. It is clear we are dealing with a merger and it is not to be confused with, for example, the issue ...More Button

With regard to the question of natural justice in making public various submissions, the position is that the Competition Authority draws its conclusions, not on the basis of submissions but on the...More Button

The names of persons who make submission are only deleted on grounds of confidentiality. The Deputy is aware that a number of those who made submissions were named, but in some instances confident...More Button

The important point made by the authority, which I have accepted, was that if the merger proceeded consumers would have to pay more for petrol and products on which they already spend £750 mi...More Button

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Employer Subsidy Scheme.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the comments of the chairperson of the National Economic and Social Forum in relation to the shortage of funds for the £80 a week subsidy scheme; and if he ...More Button

Was asked: the measures or programmes, if any, that will be put in place to ensure that any employer subsidy, established to aid the employment of the long-term unemployed, will not be subject to abuse; and i...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 and 26 together. There are essentially two parts to Deputy O'Rourke's question. The first concerns the recruitment subsidy scheme, Jobstart, and my attention ha...More Button

As regards the local employment service, my plans for 1996 are that the service should be consolidated in the 14 key areas. I regard the LES as an important initiative by the Government to address...More Button

I am concerned that the detailed rules and procedures for Jobstart, currently being developed in consultation with IBEC and ICTU, will contain effective anti-abuse provisions. I know the social p...More Button

In her reference to the newspaper report, the Deputy appeared to refer to adequate funds for the LES, whereas in her parliamentary question she referred to adequate funds for a specific scheme. Th...More Button

The Deputy asked why it will not be introduced until July. From the outset the intention was to introduce it in July. We have to plan details of its operation, some of which are referred to in De...More Button

As I indicated to the Deputy on a previous occasion, we envisage that the scheme will develop on a phased basis. We are introducing an innovative scheme targeted at those who are three or more year...More Button

Satisfactory projects are up and running. The plans in respect of ten of the groups have been approved and are going into operation. The other four are at an advanced stage and will prove to be e...More Button

Approximately £1.4 million was spent last year.More Button

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Profit Margin Differentials.

Was asked: his views on the wide differential between the performance and relative profitability of Irish and foreign owned companies as measured by Forfás surveys.More Button

The differences in profitability between the Irish-owned and foreign-owned manufacturing sectors is significant and average profitability of Irish-owned companies is comparatively low.More Button

The Forfás Irish economy expenditure survey collects data on the profitability of Irish-owned companies and this indicates profitability as a percentage of sales averaging about 4 per cent i...More Button

There should, however, be no a priori assumption that the performance of indigenous and foreign direct investment firms should be comparable. Foreign direct investment firms of their natur...More Button

The appropriate question is not are we concerned with the apparent disparity, but rather, is the performance of indigenous industry good enough, and, if not, why not? In that context, in the aggre...More Button

The principal reason for this has to be sectoral positioning. Too many Irish firms are still operating in sectors, or more accurately segments — parts of sectors, which are involved with low...More Button

Thus, many Irish firms, because of their historic positioning in low growth sectors, are disadvantaged. The profits they earn are often insufficient to allow them to make new investments or attrac...More Button

On the other hand, the picture is not all black. A number of relatively successful Irish companies have been and continue to be established in growth sectors, for example, electronics, software an...More Button

This positive aspect should also be seen in the context of the record jobs and sales performance by Irish industry in 1995 recently announced by Forbairt. Among the key factors giving rise to this ...More Button

It is precisely with a view to exploiting and capitalising on this turnaround that my Department is currently working with Forbairt on the development of a new strategy for indigenous industry whic...More Button

The larger goals for Ireland's progress and growth will be realised only if the enterprise sector of the economy can compete successfully and profitably on local and export markets and for this to ...More Button

Evidence shows that the profitability of companies is higher than the 10 per cent she suggested. Foreign companies here are making considerably more profit than that. I do not have available to m...More Button

It would be remiss of me if I did not join other Deputies in expressing sympathy to the Ceann Comhairle on the death of his brother.More Button

I accept there is some element of transfer pricing but there is no evidence to back up the Deputy's contention. The evidence is that these companies are enjoying very strong sales and employment g...More Button

I say that from my experience of dealing with many of these companies. One of our big selling points is the quality of our people. We are not solely pursuing a taxed based strategy.More Button

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Retail Price in Ireland of UK Publications.

Was asked: the terms of reference and timeframe he has set for the Director of Consumer Affairs' investigation into the distribution of magazines, books and recorded music following concerns about the absence...More Button

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Irish Press Group.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to ensure that the vacuum left by the Irish Press Group is filled; the contact, if any, he has had with the former Irish Press management or Independent Newspapers in rela...More Button

The liquidation of the Irish Press newspapers, as decided by the directors, has had a serious consequence in regard to plurality and diversity in the newspaper media in that a major daily, an eveni...More Button

The launch of any new paper or a relaunch of press titles is a matter to be decided on respectively by either the investors or the owners of the Irish Press titles.More Button

I supported the workers in obtaining an examinership to Irish Press newspapers and Irish Press Publications, which unfortunately failed — the prospect of a long legal wrangle over the titles ...More Button

Prior to the failed examinership I had extensive discussions with all newspaper interests following the publication of the Competition Authority's report. At all stages, I have had the objectives...More Button

I hope the newspapers could be relaunched to provide for diversity of views in the newspaper media. However, the sale or otherwise of the Irish Press titles is a matter for the owners of those titl...More Button

I attach considerable importance to the work of the Commission on the Newspaper Industry under the chairmanship of the former Chief Justice, Mr. Thomas Finlay. The issues before the Commission are...More Button

I cannot get involved in putting together a business plan or a package of investors. That action should be taken by those who own the titles and who envisage investing in this sector. It would no...More Button

I expect the report early in the summer, and it will be published.More Button

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - County Enterprise Boards.

Was asked: whether he intends reviewing the operation of the county enterprise boards in view of the differential between the numbers of jobs created by various county enterprise boards; when he intends bring...More Button

A review of the operation of county enterprise boards will commence in 1996 as part of the brief of the external evaluator appointed under the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Develo...More Button

In addition, the current OECD County Review of Local Development in Ireland should serve as a valuable guide to possible improvements to facilitate greater effectiveness, accountability and subsidi...More Button

Over £18 million was provided in grants by the 35 CEBs during 1994 and 1995 resulting in the creation of over 4,000 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs, according to figures supplied by the bo...More Button

Differentials in the rate of job creation as between various boards can arise for a variety of reasons relating to the nature of the projects, the rate at which they approve these projects and the ...More Button

While these job creation and cost per job figures are encouraging, it has to be borne in mind that the boards have only had two full years of operation. The key issue, namely the sustainability of...More Button

There are a number of factors underlying the position of urban areas, in particular Dublin city. One factor is the flat sum of approvals to each board which is the same for every area regardless o...More Button

There are other factors that have to be borne in mind in looking at different counties and the extent to which they have created employment to date. For example, some have decided to establish ent...More Button

I would support enterprise boards forging good strong links with the voluntary sector. We have endeavoured, in the structure of the boards, to ensure that sort of link in that on the board there a...More Button

It would be difficult to rationalise Forbairt with the county enterprise boards. The county enterprise boards are essentially addressing the issue of micro-enterprise, new start-up companies. The...More Button

I accept there is need for closer co-operation with agencies. In many counties there is a commitment to a one stop shop approach so that the public are aware whether to seek support from Leader, p...More Button

External evaluators will carry out the review this year. It would be hard to have a final view on a full scale evaluation as this is its second year of operation. They must prioritise their work ...More Button

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cork Consumer Affairs Office.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to open a Cork office of the Director of Consumer Affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Written Answers. - Access to Finance Scheme.

Was asked: the number of companies by employee categories that availed of a loan under the access to finance scheme; and the average loan paid out in each case.More Button

The access to finance scheme is the primary measure of the Small Business Operation Programme. It provides a total fund of £208 million, with an interest rate of 6.5 per cent for a duration o...More Button

At the end of January of this year, 304 companies had drawndown a total of £35,522,920. The average loan size is £116,852. The access to finance scheme as a whole is open to companies...More Button

Written Answers. - Cobh (Cork) Task Force Report.

Was asked: when the Task Force report on Cobh, County Cork will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As I outlined to the house last October, I have received the report and recommendations of the Cobh and Harbour Area Response Group, which was set up to propose measures that would offset the econo...More Button

The recommendations contained in this report were not recommendations that could be carried through solely by my Department. To this effect I consulted the Minister for Finance, the Minister for t...More Button

Written Answers. - Insurance Premium Loadings.

Was asked: his views on the discrimination against diabetics by the motor insurance industry whereby a premium loading is applied for drivers suffering from this condition.More Button

Insurers impose premium loadings or charge higher premiums in the light of their underwriting experience in each category of insurance business. Most insurers provide cover for diabetics suffering...More Button

I understand from the Irish Insurance Federation that negotiations are taking place with the Irish Diabetic Association with a view to establishing a standard questionnaire to be completed by diab...More Button

Written Answers. - Employment Increases.

Was asked: the increases in respect of both part-time and full-time employment in the labour force survey for the year ended March 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I understand from the Central Statistics Office that a breakdown, between full-time and part-time employment, of the total increase of 49,000 in the number of persons at work at mid-April 1995 will...More Button

A breakdown of the total increase in employment which occurred in the previous year indicates that the increase in the number of persons in full-time employment, in that year, was over 26,000, in c...More Button

Written Answers. - Public Sector Construction Contracts.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to introduce local labour clauses to apply to companies undertaking construction projects in unemployment blackspot areas, these clauses to apply to the initial constructi...More Button

I presume the Deputy is referring to public sector construction contracts.More Button

While the conditions attaching to public contracts are primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Finance, I understand that imposing a requirement of the type suggested by the Deputy on a ge...More Button

Taking due account of the above factors, it is open to contracting authorities, in appropriate individual cases, to consider arrangements to encourage the recruitment of local labour.More Button

Written Answers. - Fast Food Industry.

Was asked: in view of his recent support on expansion in the fast food industry, if he has satisfied himself with the fast food industry; that young people employed in the industry are getting a fair rate of ...More Button

Rates of pay and other conditions of employment of certain workers employed in catering estabishments anywhere throughout the State except the County Borough of Dublin and the Borough of Dún...More Button

Routine inspections are carried out by inspectors of my Department to ensure that the terms of the ERO are being observed by employers. Appropriate action is taken in cases where breaches are disc...More Button

A JLC for catering establishments in the County Borough of Dublin and the Borough of Dún Laoghaire, which do not come within the scope of the existing ERO, has also now been established. Th...More Button

Written Answers. - Southern Border Counties Funding.

Was asked: the funds from the EU and other sources available for the southern Border counties; the funds that are additional or consequent on the peace process; and the purposes for which they have been or wi...More Button

The total expenditure anticipated in the Border counties under the main programmes administered by my Department within the period in question is as follows:More Button

In addition there is a range of smaller programmes administered by my Department and its agencies which fund developments in the Border counties. I propose to notify the precise details of all of ...More Button

The following is the statement:More Button

Under the Operational Programme for Industrial Development 1994-1999 the following amounts of EU funding have been or will be spent in the Border sub-region for each of the years 1994 to 1996:More Button

No additional funds have been made available to the Industry OP as a consequence of the peace process.More Button

The purpose of the programme is to promote the development of a strong internationally competitive enterprise sector in Ireland.More Button

Human Resources Development Operational ProgrammeMore Button

Details of funding envisaged under the Human Resources Development Operational Programme in the Border region from 1994 to 1996 are as follows. Figures for 1994 reflect actual expenditure; figures ...More Button

This programme contains a range of measures which will meet the training and educational needs of many different groups in Irish society and will contribute to enhanced economic development. Activi...More Button

No additional funds have been provided under this operational programme as a consequence of the peace process.More Button

EMPLOYMENT and ADAPTMore Button

InitiativesMore Button

My Department is also responsible for the administration of the Human Resources Community Initiatives — EMPLOYMENT and ADAPT — which address issues or problems of particular target grou...More Button

The Small Business Operational Programme has a total value of IR£53.317 million, of which IR£23.213 million is EU funded. The programme does not have a separate allocation for the sout...More Button

The small business operational programme was not drawn up consequent on the peace process.More Button

County Enterprise BoardsMore Button

Total expenditure in the five southern Border counties was £832,299 in 1994 and £2,478,759 in 1995. The 1994 expenditure was met in full from Exchequer resources, while that provided i...More Button

No additional funds were made available to the boards in 1995 as a direct result of the peace process. However, all the Border boards have been acutely aware of the possibilities of the peace proc...More Button

EU Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland.More Button

This initiative provides EU funding as a direct consequence of the peace process. A total of IR£8.249 million is available from the European Social Fund for the Border counties of Ireland ove...More Button

No expenditure has as yet been incurred under this initiative. Project assessment and selection is expected to commence shortly. The selection of projects will be carried out by Area Development...More Button

INTERREG (Ireland/Northern Ireland)More Button

InitiativeMore Button

Expenditure under this programme is as follows:More Button

The programme aims at improving cross-Border co-operation between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. European Social Fund aid is provided for vocational education and employment trainin...More Button

Wider Horizons ProjectMore Button

A sum of £3.5 million was received from the International Fund for Ireland for the Wider Horizons Project in 1994; a total of £5 million was received for 1995 and an additional £3...More Button

The Wider Horizons Project is a programme funded by the International Fund for Ireland, and administered by FÁS. Its objective is to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation and to p...More Button

Priority is given to projects which address the issue of social exclusion in relation to the labour market. The wide range of projects supported to date has assisted up to 60 per cent of the parti...More Button

Under the RETEX Operational Programme 1993-97 the following amounts of EU funding have been or will be spent in the Border sub-region for each of the years 1994 to 1996:More Button

No additional funds have been available to the RETEX Operational Programme in foot of the peace process.More Button

The purpose of this programme is to help support the acceleration of economic activities in regions heavily dependent on the textile and clothing sector.More Button

Initiatives which involve Forbairt are also relevant in the context of the Deputy's question.More Button

The Northern American Partnership ProgrammeMore Button

This is a joint International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and Forbairt initiative. It is designed to facilitate the formation of strategic alliances between companies located in the Border counties and...More Button

The American Management and Business Internship Training ProgrammeMore Button

This provides support for managers and technical experts from Northern Ireland and the Border counties. The programme, launched at the Washington Conference, is sponsored by the US Department of C...More Button

AmbitMore Button

This is designed to offer hands-on training in US host firms for managers and technical experts with the objective of giving such key personnel access to new technology, product development opportu...More Button

The International Fund for Ireland has committed some $425,000 to date, the US Department of Commerce $85,000 plus staff resources, while Forbairt and the Training and Employment Agency have expend...More Button

Written Answers. - Job Creation.

Was asked: the steps, if any, he is taking to deal with the job creation needs of small areas with unemployment rates in excess of 50 per cent.More Button

I am pursuing a two-pronged approach to the matter raised by the Deputy.More Button

In regard to job-creation, the 35 city and county enterprise boards were set up in late 1993 to promote local development in all areas, including areas of high unemployment. They were established ...More Button

Over £20 million has been provided in grants by the 35 CEBs since their establishment, resulting in the creation of over 4,000 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs.More Button

Also, it is essential that action be taken to assist those unemployed persons in the areas concerned, and particularly the long-term unemployed, to compete successfully for jobs created in their ow...More Button

Finally, the Deputy will be aware of the area partnerships which will have as part of their goals, the improvement of opportunities for those seeking work, particularly the long-term unemployed.More Button

Written Answers. - Bank Charges.

Was asked: when the new measures in relation to bank charges will come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the concerns, if any, he has at the major charges being levied by banks; and the plans, if any he has to introduce legislation to place further restrictions.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 98 together.More Button

The Consumer Credit Act, 1995 shall enter into force on 1 May 1996.More Button

Part XII of the Act shall confer extensive powers to the Director of Consumer Affairs in relation to the regulation of customer charges by credit institutions. Such charges have been, and, for the...More Button

The relevant section of the Consumer Credit Act giving new powers to the Director of Consumer Affairs provides that:More Button

(a) Any or all proposals to increase existing charges must be notified four months in advance to the director.More Button

(b) Every such notification shall be accompanied by a fee, the amount of which the director shall determine and may be as much as £25,000 per notification;More Button

(c) Every such notification shall also be accompanied by a statement of the commercial justification of the proposal, including a detailed statement of cost and details of the extra annual income ...More Button

(d) Within the four month period the director may direct the credit institution to refrain from implementing the proposed increases.More Button

In the case of proposed new customer charges the same procedure shall apply, save that the prior period of notification and response by the director shall be three weeks.More Button

In exercising his powers under Part XII of the Act, the director shall have regard to the promotion of competition; the proposed commercial justification adduced; the capacity of the credit institu...More Button

Written Answers. - Services Sector Strategy.

Was asked: when a strategy for the services sector will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Deputies will be aware that, while in Opposition, I produced a White Paper on Jobs through Services. I therefore have a strong commitment, as Minister for Enterprise and Employment, to ensure that...More Button

A strategy document on the services sector is at an advanced stage of preparation. This document will review the impact and growth of the services sector on the structure of production and employme...More Button

Written Answers. - Training and Unemployment.

Was asked: his views on the United Kingdom Employment Policy Institute report that stated that training is an expensive way of doing little about unemployment and has no measurable impact on economic growth o...More Button

I presume the Deputy is referring to the UK Employment Policy Institute Report of November 1995, which comprises an Article by J.R. Shackleton, University of Westminster, entitled “The Skills Mirag...More Button

First, I would like to point out that this study is intended as a contribution to a policy debate, not here in Ireland, but in the United Kingdom, and refers to United Kingdom experiences and polic...More Button

While there is much in the Shackleton Article which I find thought provoking I have to say, however, that there is ample evidence to suggest that meaningful training has an important role to play i...More Button

As regards the second issue raised by Deputy O'Keeffe — that training has no measurable impact on the economic growth of productivity — the Shackleton article does recognise the existen...More Button

I am now in the final stages of preparing a White Paper on Human Resource Development, which will detail the Government's training policy, not only for the unemployed, but those at work and early s...More Button

Written Answers. - County Waterford Enterprise Schemes.

Was asked: if he will assist local voluntary groups in Dungarvan, Cappoquin and Lismore, County Waterford in setting up enterprise schemes along the lines of the one already established in Tallow, County Wate...More Button

The Deputy will appreciate that the question of assistance to local voluntary groups in setting up enterprise schemes is not one in which I have any direct function.More Button

I understand, however, that the Waterford County Enterprise Board would be willing to consider assisting the groups concerned and they might wish to make contact with the board at Cross Bridge Stre...More Button

Written Answers. - Credit Union Regulations.

Was asked: the progress, if any, made in revising the regulations governing credit unions; when he intends bringing forward legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 81 on Thursday, 25 January 1996, Volume 460, No. 5, columns 1395-6.More Button

I would also say that the publication of this Bill at the earliest possible date is a high priority with me. It is a priority because of the importance of the credit union movement in our society....More Button

All of this has been achieved by a movement based on notions of voluntarism, the common bond, community, and self-help. It is a movement that has created a very significant financial services orga...More Button

The movement is now well-placed to grow in significance and to add enormously to the range of services it provides to its members. This will provide strong competition for the privately owned for...More Button

However, if all of this is to happen, the legal framework, the supervisory and regulatory regime within which the movement operates will need significant updating. That is the purpose of the Bill ...More Button

Written Answers. - Motor Insurance Costs.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the recent media coverage of motor insurance rates leading to conflicting comments on increases and reductions; and if he will make a statement on the current sit...More Button

Was asked: the progress, if any, made to ensure that young people can obtain motor insurance at an affordable cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 37 together.More Button

In relation to the cost of motor cover for young drivers I should point out that the level of premiums charged to young drivers tends to reflect insurers' claims experience of such drivers as a hig...More Button

Reduction in motor insurance premium rates have been announced recently by the Guardian Group of up to 10 per cent in their motor insurance premium rates for new and existing customers and these h...More Button

I view these rate reductions as a vindication of the efforts of the gardaí in their continued enforcement of road traffic legislation and in the implementation of drink driving and other mea...More Button

The House will be aware that I have commissioned a report on the economic evaluation of insurance costs in Ireland and of the key factors contributing to the cost of insurance in Ireland. The cons...More Button

Written Answers. - European Commission's Job Initiative.

Was asked: whether a date has been set for a meeting between himself and the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jacques Santer, during Mr. Santer's forthcoming tour of European capitals and proposed me...More Button

The Commission President, in the course of addressing the European Parliament on 31 January, spoke of inviting “all the Union's political, economic and social forces... to unite in concluding a Eur...More Button

While the focus of the President's initiative is clearly a confidence boosting one, the specifics of what may be intended have not yet emerged. However, I welcome the President's declared intention...More Button

Written Answers. - Ministerial Meetings.

Was asked: the meetings he has had with ISME; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the meetings he has had with the SFA; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 33 together.More Button

Shortly after my appointment as Minister for Enterprise and Employment, I met with the small business representative associations ISME and SFA on 23 January 1995.More Button

I attended the ISME annual general meeting on 25 April 1995 and the SFA annual conference on 26 June 1995. I have met both organisations on other occasions as when I presented SFA's ISO9000 Awards...More Button

Written Answers. - Economy's Competitiveness.

Was asked: his views on whether the economy of this State is less competitive than the economy of Northern Ireland; and his further views as to whether employment policies are hampering the creation of a sing...More Button

There are many factors which through their interaction constitute the economy of any State, and determine the overall competitiveness of one economy as compared to another. However, because these ...More Button

The performance of any economy and its competitiveness with the economies of other trading partners will, amongst other issues, reflect the influence of the following factors;More Button

Unemployment/Employment rates.More Button

Taxation policy.More Button

Productivity of labour and capital.More Button

New investment in the economy.More Button

Monetary policy and exchange rate movements.More Button

Public spending policies.More Button

Cost competitiveness of industrial inputs.More Button

Infrastructure quality particularly transport and communications.More Button

Education and skills of workforce.More Button

Inflation rates.More Button

I would comment briefly on some of the above factors as follows.More Button

Labour costs are a very important component in the competitiveness of any economy and as representing the market price for labour in any economy they reflect unemployment levels, skills or otherwis...More Button

Since 1990 up to 1994 hourly wage rate movements for the overall business sector in this State have been lower than corresponding UK wage rate movements when compared in terms of national currencie...More Button

In terms of overall cost increases, Ireland's record on inflation, assisted significantly by wage moderation over the past number of years, continues to be satisfactory. Our annual rate of inflati...More Button

The competitiveness of the North of Ireland relative to this State is also influenced by the substantial funding transfers which the British Government provides for the North of Ireland economy par...More Button

In terms of taxation policy, this country has for many years adopted a policy of assisting industry's competitiveness through the provision of a 10 per cent corporate tax rate for manufacturing in...More Button

Besides the 10 per cent rate of corporate tax one of the most highly regarded competitive attractions for overseas investors in this State is the high level of skill and training of our workforce, ...More Button

The whole purpose of the Government's policy is to promote enterprise, reward those in work and encourage those seeking work. The recent budget contained a considerable number of new measures to a...More Button

In the light of the above analysis. I can see no real basis for the suggestion, in the second part of the Deputy's question, that employment policies here are hampering, in any way, the creation ...More Button

Written Answers. - IDA Policy.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to recommend that the IDA change their policy towards providing factory space in areas where there is a demand for such space.More Button

In recent years it has been the policy of the Department of Enterprise and Employment and IDA Ireland to encourage private developers to provide advance factory space for promotion by IDA Ireland. ...More Button

There are, therefore, no plans for IDA Ireland to change that policy. Supply and demand for factory space is, however, kept under continuous review with the objective of ensuring that industrial d...More Button

Written Answers. - Information Disclosure.

Was asked: whether he has received the report from the Secretary of his Department regarding the leaking of information in relation to two industrial projects which were being negotiated by the IDA; and if he...More Button

I have recently received a report in relation to Intel and APC from the Secretary of my Department. It has not been possible to identify the source of early disclosure of information on proposals b...More Button

Written Answers. - County Enterprise Boards' Funding.

Was asked: if he will differentiate between the amount of annual funding made available to county enterprise boards having regard to various factors including level of activity to-date, population density and...More Button

The question of differentiated allocation of enterprise support capacity is currently receiving detailed examination in my Department. The Deputy may be assured that I will give the fullest conside...More Button

Written Answers. - Public Tendering.

Was asked: the steps, if any, he has taken to improve the participation rate by small business in public tendering; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I am committed to assisting small business in assessing public markets. I believe that it is essential that small business should have all the information and advice necessary so that public purch...More Button

The Small Business Operational Programme, which I launched on 12 September 1995, includes a specific measure on public procurement. This measure will provide £3.2 million over the next five...More Button

I am confident that the operational programme will result in the development of measures which will substantially improve the participation rate by small business in public tendering.More Button

Written Answers. - Sunbed Regulation.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to ensure that sunbeds do not endanger the health and safety of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The safety of electrical equipment is governed in Ireland, as it is in other EU member states, by the Low Voltage Directive (LVD) 73/23/EEC. This directive applies to electrical equipment with a v...More Button

Under the directive it is primarily the responsibility of traders to ensure that electrical equipment placed on the market is safe and fully satisfies the relevant safety standards.More Button

The directive is implemented in national law by the Low Voltage Regulations (SI Nos. 428 of 1992 and 307 of 1994). These Regulations provide the Director of Consumer Affairs with powers of enforc...More Button

Arising from a recent tragic case which was widely reported in the national press, the Director of Consumer Affairs is having a particular type of sunbed examined and that examination is ongoing. ...More Button

Written Answers. - Irish Steel Shares Sale.

Was asked: when he intends to give legislative effect for the disposal of Irish Steel to ISPAT International; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The parliamentary draftsman's office is finalising the text of the legislation necessary to give effect to the sale of the shares in Irish Steel Limited to Ispat International. I hope to publish t...More Button

Written Answers. - Work-Sharing Proposals.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to encourage work-sharing in both the public and private sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Work is nearing completion in my Department on the preparation of proposals relating to work sharing in both the public and private sector. The purpose of these proposals, if adopted, will be to e...More Button

Written Answers. - Insurance Costs Review Group.

Was asked: the reports, if any, he has received from the group set up to review the high cost of insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The report of the consultants I have commissioned to undertake an Economic Evaluation of Insurance Costs in Ireland is at present in course of finalisation.More Button

My Department is maintaining close liaison with the consultants to ensure that the report fulfills the requirements of the terms of reference for sound conclusions and recommendations based on expe...More Button

My overriding concern is to ensure that the data, analysis, conclusions and recommendations in the report provide a sound basis for future policy and action in the area of insurance costs.More Button

Written Answers. - Media Consultancy.

Was asked: the brief and terms of reference given to the public relation firms and consultancies engaged by his Department in 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Heneghan Public Relations Consultants were engaged on one occasion in 1995 at a cost of £800 to provide media consultancy.More Button

Written Answers. - Foreign Investment in Ireland.

Was asked: the direct foreign investment in Ireland for each of the years from 1989 to 1995, if he will give a breakdown of the investment in 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Agency data (IDA and Forbairt) on foreign investment in Ireland derives from their statistics on eligible fixed assets (EFA) in companies against which capital grants are paid.More Button

The introduction of employment grant assistance related to the creation of employment which is not directly related to capital investment means that fixed asset investment in these companies is not...More Button

In 1995 the amount of Eligible Fixed Assets is broken down by Nationality Group of Origin as follows:More Button

Written Answers. - Dispute Procedures.

Was asked: the progress, if any, made on the adoption of the code of practice on dispute procedures in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Adoption of the code is primarily a matter for negotiation and agreement between employers and trade unions in accordance with the voluntary nature of our collective bargaining system. It is, of c...More Button

While I would like to see quicker progress made in this area, I have to acknowledge that the tabling of the code tends to take place in the context of wider negotiation processes, which of their na...More Button

Written Answers. - Use of Visual Display Units.

Was asked: the concerns, if any, he has at the damage to eyesight caused by the incorrect use of computer screens.More Button

There is no medical evidence to suggest that work with computer display screen equipment causes adverse effects on eyes or eyesight, or leads to worsening of existing conditions. However, working ...More Button

The use of display screens is governed by Part VII of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, 1993 (S.I. No. 44 of 1993) which, inter alia, implements Counc...More Button

Adherence to the provisions of the regulations concerning the design of computer software and equipment, location and layout of the workstation and design of the work activity will minimise the ins...More Button

The regulations also require that employers make appropriate eyesight tests available to employees who habitually use display screen equipment as a significant part of their normal work. Employers ...More Button

The Health and Safety Authority which is the statutory body responsible for the enforcement of these regulations has recently published detailed guidelines on the operation of the 1993 regulations...More Button

I am satisfied that the legal provisions I have mentioned afford adequate protection to employees whose work involves using computer display screen equipment.More Button

Written Answers. - EU Regulations Cost.

Was asked: the concerns, if any, he has at the cost of new regulations emanating from the EU on Irish businesses.More Button

I am very conscious of the cost of new regulations on Irish businesses and I am aware that an increasing proportion of these regulations are emanating from the European Union.More Button

The cost of compliance with new and, indeed, existing regulations is widely recognised. In 1994 the Task Force on Small Business considered the regulatory burden on business and recognised the bur...More Button

Improvement of the administrative and legal environment of enterprises is a priority measure under the EU Multiannual Programme on Enterprise Policy 1993-1996. As part of this programme, a busine...More Button

The importance, at EU level, of detailed evaluation, transparency and effective and timely consultation cannot be over emphasised as a means of keeping compliance costs to a minimum. I believe tha...More Button

Written Answers. - Grant-aided Companies Sales.

Was asked: his views on the fact that the average return on sales by companies which have been grant-aided by Forbairt is only 4 per cent as against 6 per cent for small businesses in the United States.More Button

An annual survey of Irish economy expenditures by manufacturers in Ireland is carried out by Forfás. The most recently published results of the survey are for the year 1993. The survey sho...More Button

Forbairt also assists the indigenous internationally traded services sector. The survey found that companies in this sector employing 20 or more people had profits as a percentage of sales of 10.1 ...More Button

The survey also showed that there are substantial variations in profitability as a percentage of sales as between different sectors of Irish-owned industry, and these different levels of profitabil...More Button

There are of course many reasons why businesses in one country may be more profitable than in another. For example, American firms have ready access to much larger domestic markets than Irish firm...More Button

I am very conscious of the importance of increasing profitability in Forbairt-assisted firms. We need strong profitable Irish firms in order to provide secure employment, compete in domestic and ...More Button

Written Answers. - Companies Office Policy.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that the Companies Office is taking appropriate action against registered companies who fail to make annual returns; and the reason the Companies Office is not striking ...More Button

I take it the Deputy's question arises from my replies to supplementary points he raised in the context of Question No. 33 on 10 October 1995 (Volume 456, No. 6, columns 1444/50). Since then, the ...More Button

At the registrar's direction, 5,607 were struck off the register in 1992, 13,087 in 1993, 4,025 in 1994 and 14,351 in 1995.More Button

The initiative of the “late-filing fee” resulted in a considerable number of companies bringing their affairs up to date. By way of illustration, 28,000 annual returns were filed in the immediate ...More Button

In 1992, 593 companies were prosecuted for failure to file returns, 2,341 in 1993, 1,979 in 1994 and 626 in 1995.More Button

In 1993, a decision was taken by the registrar to commence prosecution of individual directors of companies in respect of their personal failure to ensure the filing of statutory documents. As a re...More Button

In my replies to Question No. 6 on 25 January 1996 (Volume 460, No. 5, columns 1318/24) and to Question No. 36 on 21 November 1995 (Volume 458, No. 5, columns 924/5), I outlined a series of improv...More Button

Was asked: his views on the IDA's strategy of focusing on electronic jobs in this country and on the likely wholesale scaling-down of capacity by multinational firms.More Button

To be successful, IDA Ireland has to market the elements of Ireland which can credibly support industrial investment. IDA Ireland must match national advantages, in terms of competitiveness, with ...More Button

IDA Ireland is following a clear policy of being first with the industry leaders in emerging technologies. In 1995 a total of 22 electronics projects, greenfield and expansion, were announced by I...More Button

IDA Ireland focuses on the electronics sector because Ireland offers to companies a competitive mix of skills, costs and financial advantages. The industry is important to Ireland because it is on...More Button

—change in technological terms, which sees relatively rapid obsolescence of today's technology.More Button

—change in individual company's fortunes, driven by both technological and competitive factors.More Button

However, the effects of these changes can be minimised by innovation or diversification. Many leading companies of yesteryear have either had to carry out major internal restructuring or risk disa...More Button

The many successes in job creation in the electronics sector over the last number of years, and particularly in 1995, has raised the question of how we can assist in the maintenance of the high lev...More Button

The main requirement is a systematic and continuous way of assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the industry by the industrial development agencies, the industry itself...More Button

Written Answers. - European Union Funding.

Was asked: the specific funding, if any, that will be available to his Department or to agencies under the aegis of his Department from the European Union's Operational Programme for Peace and Reconciliation;...More Button

Overall responsibility for the co-ordination of the Initiative in question rests with the Department of Finance in conjunction with the Department of the Taoiseach. EU Structural funding amounting ...More Button

No specific funding is available to my Department or its agencies as such under the initiative. However, my Department has central responsibility for drawing-down aid from the European Social Fund...More Button

The 20.625 mecu ESF funding will be distributed to projects which are approved for assistance under the Initiative. The selection of projects for Social Fund aid will primarily be made by Area Dev...More Button

In effect, therefore, my Department's main role in the programme is to act as a conduit for the ESF component of the financial transfers between Brussels and the management agencies and to ensure c...More Button

Written Answers. - Cavan Industrial Park.

Was asked: the specific funding, if any, he will provide to the relevant State agencies to develop an industrial park in Cavan town where the county council has adequate land for such development in view of t...More Button

The provision of industrial sites and advance factories designed to attract foreign overseas development or indeed indigenous industry to any particular location is a matter for the day-to-day oper...More Button

Written Answers. - Athy (Kildare) Job Losses.

Was asked: the efforts, if any, that are being made to find a new employer to replace the 35 lost jobs which occured consequent upon the move of Sherwood Medical Limited from Athy, County Kildare, to Tullamor...More Button

I am informed by IDA Ireland that Sherwood Medical Limited has offered all 35 staff in Athy, County Kildare the option of transferring to Sherwood Medical in Tullamore, County Offaly. Approximatel...More Button

I can asure the Deputy that as soon as all staff have vacated the premises, IDA Ireland will actively market the factory with a view to finding new overseas investment through its network of office...More Button

Written Answers. - Departmental Travel.

Was asked: the travel deal, if any, signed by five Government Departments with an airline and one agent for all official travel to and from Brussels; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department has not signed a travel deal with any airline or travel agent for official travel to and from Brussels.More Button

My Department did however use a travel agent to book all our travel arrangements for a trial period in 1995 following a value for money examinations of current practice. The six month trial period...More Button

I am not aware of the travel arrangements in other Government Departments which in any case are a matter for the respective Ministers.More Button

Written Answers. - White Paper on Human Resource Development.

Was asked: the reason for the delay in the publication of the White Paper on Training; if the paper is still being prepared by his officials; the terms of reference set for the preparation of the paper; and w...More Button

I would like, first to inform the Deputy that the perspective of the White Paper has been broadened beyond the narrow concept of “training” and will now be entitled a White Paper on Human Resource ...More Button

A considerable amount of detailed research and analysis — as well as consultative discussion — has already been undertaken by my Department through the preparatory phase. The inherent ...More Button

Written Answers. - Departmental Staff.

Was asked: the officials, if any, from a State agency that have been or will be transferred or seconded to his Department; the work they are or will be performing; the consultations, if any, that have taken p...More Button

The Fianna Fáil and Labour Programme for Partnership Government 1993-97 provided for the establishment of an Employment Protection Unit to protect existing jobs by providing advisory service...More Button

The decision to put in place a local employment service to meet the needs of the long-term unemployed was taken by the present Government in February 1995. Overall responsibility for the delivery ...More Button

Given the nature of the use of agency personnel outlined above, formal consultations were not held with the staff unions in my Department; they were however informed of these developments. Meetings...More Button

In line with Government policy on public expenditure, the question of reallocating existing resources available to me to meet priority needs is kept constantly under review.More Button

Written Answers. - Industrial Relations Act — Review.

Was asked: the requests, if any, he has received from ICTU to review the Industrial Relations Act, 1990; whether there are complaints from trade unions that the law is too restrictive on workers; the plans, i...More Button

I have not received any formal request from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to review the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. I am aware, however, of a degree of trade union criticism regarding pa...More Button

My Department continues to monitor the 1990 Act on an ongoing basis in the light of developments in the industrial relations sphere.More Button

Written Answers. - Voluntary Workers' Restrictions.

Was asked: if he will review restrictions on voluntary workers in community employment schemes who have not acquired 39 stamps and 39 credits in view of the fact that voluntary workers in the case of trained ...More Button

I presume the Deputy is referring to the conditions attaching to the community employment (CE) programme, whereby prospective participants must be in receipt of an unemployment compensation payment...More Button

CE is primarily designed to prevent marginalisation among long-term unemployed people whose principle or only source of income is a social welfare payment and its eligibility criteria reflects this...More Button

Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) Plant.

Was asked: the contact, if any, he has had with unions and management at Packard Electric in relation to the 400 workers who are, according to the 1995 rescue plan, due to be rehired in March 1996; and if he ...More Button

As I indicated in my reply of 6 February last on this matter the unions and management attended conciliation conferences at the Labour Relations Commission in order to overcome existing industrial ...More Button