Header Item Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015: Order for Report Stage
 Header Item Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015: Report Stage

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 897 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton] In addition, those teachers, as they move to their new and refurbished schools, will know that the cuts in their salaries made by Deputy O'Dea's Government will be unrolled. That will be done in law and in legislation, starting on 1 January. All of that, by the way, will have been met within the framework of the fiscal rules that Fianna Fáil, in its own pre-budget statement, has set out and will abide by if in government, and other parties have set out similar positions.

All I can say is that it is a very good start to a strong recovery after all the hard work people have done and all the sacrifices they have made, given so many people lost businesses and employment when Fianna Fáil decided to do what it did and crash the country. Deputy O'Dea can choose to scoff but I think the scoffing is a little premature and very unwise.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea I think the Minister is suffering from flights of fancy. I do not scoff at people getting extra opportunities, whether they be in Limerick or elsewhere. However, is there not something slightly artificial about a Minister for Education and Skills, in the dying days of a Government which is about to go out of office in seven or eight weeks, announcing billions of euro for schools? We have the Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, announcing billions for houses, all for the future. We might be able to take it seriously but for the famous Tesco ad-----

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin We built more schools in the worst of times than they did in the best of times.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea -----if we did not recall the posters from one end of the country to the other, stating, " Vote Labour - No cuts in child benefit", and if we did not have the spectacle of the Labour spokesman on education going in front of the television cameras and signing a pledge that there would be no increase in student registration fees. Labour did not tell the truth then. There is no reason to believe it is telling the truth now.

  Question put and agreed to.

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015: Order for Report Stage

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move: "That Report Stage be taken now."

  Question put and agreed to.

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2015: Report Stage

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendment No. 1 is out of order.

  Amendment No. 1 not moved.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Amendments Nos. 2 to 6, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together. I call Deputy Mary Lou McDonald.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, to delete lines 3 to 29.

I am conscious today's debate might be a re-run of the discussion and debate we had at committee.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin There is every danger of it.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The stated objective of the winding back of the financial emergency legislation was in the first instance, according to the Minister, to give relief to low and middle income public and civil servants. That was certainly the position the Government, not least the Minister himself, stated and restated at Lansdowne Road. Let it be said on the floor of the House that, as I have acknowledged at committee, it is true to say those on smaller incomes, and some on very low incomes, in the civil and public service will get a level of relief from this legislation - of that there is no doubt. It is not going to be transformative for those workers but, nonetheless, I know that is their view, and I have great sympathy for that view and for the unions that, after an annual diet of cutbacks and loss of income, consider that any alleviation is to be welcomed. I want to state that at the outset.

However, when we take Lansdowne Road and Haddington Road together, and look at this legislation, what we discover is that, in fact, it is at the higher end of earnings that full pay restoration is envisaged. The legislation sets out in respect of income over €65,000 up to a benchmark of €110,000 a two-stage full reinstatement, and then, for income in excess of €110,000, a three-stage full reinstatement is envisaged. I made the point to the Minister at committee, and I want to make it again, that in terms of equity and of delivering maximum relief, it is my view that his efforts should have been totally focused on those in the lower income bracket. It is ironic, given the Minister's stated position that this was all about relief for people on €65,000 and less, and all about those on low and middle incomes, that the only place complete income restoration is envisaged and set out stage by stage is for those portions of income above €65,000 and, indeed, above €110,000. My amendment seeks to remedy that situation.

I have also had an even longer-running conversation with the Minister in respect of pay generally within the public and civil service. We know that only a tiny proportion of civil and public servants earn in excess of €100,000 or €110,000. The Minister will know that, in the lifetime of this Dáil, I have debated with him the need for pay and pension restraint in the upper echelons. I am afraid we have not had a meeting of minds on that issue and, in the dying months of this Dáil, I do not imagine that is going to happen. The Minister rejected this amendment on Committee Stage and I imagine that is the course of action he will take here today, unless we are in for a real shocker. However, the reason I resubmitted this amendment and the other amendments is to place on record on the floor of the Dáil what I see as a more favoured position being afforded to higher portions of income. The question that arises is how it is that, in a staged way, full restoration of pay and conditions, in all of their aspects, is not similarly set out for people on lower income.

As the Minister knows, amendment No. 3 sets out that nothing in the section would provide for increases in the salaries of Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas or Ministers of the Government.


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