[The Taoiseach: ] Clearly, the decision of the Labour Court has to be considered by the GRA and the AGSI in respect of their members balloting on its recommendations. Obviously, the Minister, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, met the public service committee of the ICTU and today sees the first meeting of the Public Service Pay Commission. This morning the Government obviously considered this issue. Following a discussion on the Labour Court's recommendations issued last week and pay policy more broadly, it reiterated its commitment to a collective approach to industrial relations and pay policy. It will have to reflect on the most effective means of delivering economic security and stability for the country. Clearly, the Lansdowne Road agreement is a central part of this and the Government will continue to stand by it. In the context of the Labour Court's findings, the recommendations will require careful consideration by the Government also. That is why the Minister met the public service committee of the ICTU. As I said, today also sees the first meeting of the Public Service Pay Commission.
Deputy Micheál Martin: The Minister has already met the ICTU.
The Taoiseach: Yes. He met it yesterday.
Deputy Micheál Martin: To be frank, I do not believe the Taoiseach has brought clarity to the issue.
The Taoiseach: I will bring clarity to it.
Deputy Gerry Adams: Is Deputy Micheál Martin reassured?
Deputy Micheál Martin: We might have to meet to discuss this issue.
The Taoiseach: The Government issued a statement-----
Deputy Brendan Howlin: Is Fianna Fáil still supplying?
The Taoiseach: -----and the Minister will be responding later.
Deputy Mattie McGrath: Supply is getting scarce.
Deputy Gerry Adams: Does Deputy Micheál Martin have confidence?
The Taoiseach: The Government strongly supports and will stand by the Lansdowne Road agreement.
Deputy Mattie McGrath: Supply is limited.
The Taoiseach: The Government sees a collective approach to ensure economic stability and progress for the good of the country.
Prohibition of Hydraulic Fracturing (Extraction of Hydrocarbon) Bill 2016: First Stage
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: I move:
That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for the prohibition of Hydraulic Fracturing and all other practices to extract Hydrocarbon from coal seams, shale rock and tight sands in Ireland.
I am aware that the week before last we debated Deputy Tony McLoughlin's Bill which I supported to ban fracking. In parallel with whatever work he was doing on that Bill, I was working to update a similar Bill that I had submitted last December, namely, the Prohibition of Hydraulic Fracturing Bill 2015. I withdrew it from the lottery because it had become clear in the aftermath of events in Antrim that the definition of hydraulic fracturing did not necessarily cover other forms of unconventional extraction of hydrocarbons that essentially were fracking or paved the way for it. Like Deputy Tony McLoughlin, I was working with Friends of the Earth, An Taisce and other groups to refine the Bill to make it more specific and allow it to catch up with technological developments.
I am happy with Deputy Tony McLoughlin's Bill, as I signalled to him two weeks ago. I commend him, including for giving a voice to campaigners in his area and environmental campaigners generally who are fighting to ensure we will rule out any possibility of engaging in hydraulic fracturing. However, there is a small difference between his Bill and mine. Actually, it is a significant difference and I suspect that he will probably agree with me. If we have moved towards an agreement or a consensus that we should rule out hydraulic fracturing onshore, as I hope we have, that prohibition should apply offshore also. That is the additional feature of my Bill.
I do not intend to add my Bill to the lottery at this point. We will see how the debate goes on Deputy Tony McLoughlin's Bill on Committee Stage when I hope he and the Government will be open to an amendment to include the offshore in the prohibition of hydraulic fracturing and unconventional extraction. The reason is simple. Human health, the impact on the environment and the need to address climate change were the three key issues on which the House seemed to agree were at stake in trying to ban hydraulic fracturing. The evidence suggests human health, the environment and water will be adversely affected by hydraulic fracturing and that there is no justification, particularly in the light of our Paris Declaration commitments to address climate change urgently, for extracting more hydrocarbons or finding new ways to do so. If that is true onshore, self-evidently, i tis true offshore also.
A further important concern people have raised is seismic impacts, for example, the potential for earthquakes to occur and so on. There is considerable evidence that this technology can contribute to earthquakes and that it has done so.
The precautionary principle that was cited in the debate about hydraulic fracturing onshore needs to apply to hydraulic fracturing offshore also. Our offshore territorial waters are a precious resource, just as our land resources are. All of the reasons that have been recounted - tourism, biodiversity, human habitats, animal habitats and so on - apply just as much offshore. Any prohibition on fracking must, therefore, apply offshore. It is in that context that I am submitting the Bill. I hope including it in the lottery will not be necessary further down the road if the Government is open to accepting my amendment to Deputy Tony McLoughlin's Bill on Committee Stage. If it is not, I will try to press ahead with my Bill.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is the Bill opposed?
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): No.
Question put and agreed to.
An Ceann Comhairle: Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."
Question put and agreed to.
Prohibition of Hydraulic Fracturing Bill 2015: Leave to Withdraw
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: I move:
That leave be granted to withdraw the Prohibition of Hydraulic Fracturing Bill 2015.
Question put and agreed to.
Finance Bill 2016: Financial Resolutions
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I move the following Resolutions:
THAT sections 784, 787G, 787K, 787O, 787R, 787S and 790D of Part 30 of, and Schedule 23B to, the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (No. 39 of 1997), which relate to Retirement Annuities, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, imputed distributions from certain funds and the limit on tax-relieved pension funds, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT Part 8 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (No. 39 of 1997), which provides for rules for the taxation of deposit interest, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT section 110 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (No. 39 of 1997), which deals with the taxation of special purpose companies set up to securitise assets, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT Part 27 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (No. 39 of 1997), which deals with unit trusts and offshore funds, be amended by the insertion of Chapter 1B into that Part and that that Act be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
(1) Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Finance Act 1999 (No. 2 of 1999), which provides for mineral oil tax, and Schedules 2 and 2A to that Act, which provide for the rates of that tax be amended, andin the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
(2) sections 55 and 56 of the Finance Act 2014 (No. 37 of 2014), which previously provided for the measures referred to in paragraph (1) and were not commenced be repealed,
THAT Chapter 2 of Part 3 of the Finance Act 2010 (No. 5 of 2010), which, in sections 71 and 72, provides for a relief from natural gas carbon tax for natural gas used for high-efficiency heat and power cogeneration, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT Chapter 3 of Part 3 of the Finance Act 2010 (No. 5 of 2010), which, in sections 82 and 83, provides for a relief from solid fuel carbon tax for coal used for high-efficiency heat and power cogeneration, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Finance Act 1999 (No. 2 of 1999), which, in section 100, provides for a relief from mineral oil tax for mineral oil used for high-efficiency heat and power cogeneration, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT Chapter 1 of Part 10 of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010 (No. 31 of 2010), which relates to special schemes, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT section 126AA of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 (No. 31 of 1999), which provides for a stamp duty in the form of a further levy on certain financial institutions, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
THAT section 86 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 (No.1 of 2003), which provides for an exemption from capital acquisitions tax in the case of a gift or an inheritance of certain dwelling houses, be amended in the manner and to the extent specified in the Act giving effect to this Resolution.
Question put and agreed to.
Ceisteanna - Questions
1. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Taoiseach the measures in place to engage with Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas on Ireland's position ahead of the negotiations with the United Kingdom following the vote to leave the European Union. [32801/16]
2. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the all-Ireland forum on Brexit that was held on 2 November 2016. [33523/16]
3. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the civic dialogue conference. [33550/16]
4. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the reason he indicated at the civic forum that the British Government could initiate Article 50 by December 2016. [33802/16]
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.
The all-island civic dialogue on Brexit which I hosted last week with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade was an important opportunity to hear a wide range of views on the implications of Brexit for this island. The dialogue was the first in a series of sessions to discuss both the challenges and the opportunities arising from Brexit on an all-island basis. It was an open and inclusive event, bringing together around 300 people from all parts of the island of Ireland, representing a broad range of civic society groups, trade unions, business groups and non-governmental organisations.
I very much welcome the constructive engagement of those who attended from political parties, North and South, including many from this House. I was also impressed by the quality of the interventions from across civic society, from large business groups to local and community representatives from Border areas. I was struck by the appetite of the audience and participants for deeper consultation and engagement. As I said during my remarks at the event, this is just the first part of an ongoing dialogue. We need more detailed discussions across a number of specific themes and sectors which will form the next phase of our dialogue. We will hold a number of sectoral consultations in the coming weeks and months and I will convene another all-island civic dialogue in plenary format early next year.
During my remarks at the dialogue I noted that the Prime Minister, Ms Theresa May, had indicated that she would trigger Article 50 by no later than the end of March but that this did not preclude her from taking this action at an earlier date.