Dáil Éireann

25/Feb/1993

Prelude

Order of Business.

Financial Resolutions, 1993. - Financial Resolution No. 10: General (Resumed).

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Carcase Weight Limits.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Milk Quotas.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cereal Quota.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Price Proposals.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Farm Improvement Scheme.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Hare Coursing.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin District Milk Board.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - GATT Negotiations.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cattle Subsidies.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Small Industry Development.

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Leader Programme.

Adjournment Debate Matters.

Digital Plant, Galway: Statements.

Adjournment Debate. - Cashel (Tipperary) Hospital.

Adjournment Debate. - Dundalk (Louth) School.

Adjournment Debate. - Health and Education Matters.

Written Answers. - Effect of Currency Crisis on Timber Industry.

Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

Written Answers. - Pollution Control Grants.

Written Answers. - Bovine TB Eradication Scheme.

Written Answers. - Promotion of Irish Goods.

Written Answers. - National Milk Agency.

Written Answers. - File Plan Folio.

Written Answers. - Development of Natural Resources.

Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

Written Answers. - Environmentally Sensitive Areas Scheme.

Written Answers. - CAP Reform.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Cereals Promotion and Marketing.

Written Answers. - Suckler Cow and Ewe Premium Quota.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Bilingual Services.

Written Answers. - Food Review Group Report.

Written Answers. - Agriculture Pesticides.

Written Answers. - Exchange Risk Guarantee Scheme.

Written Answers. - Estimates for the Public Service.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Threat to Common Earthworm.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Farm Employment.

Written Answers. - Grant Aided Tree Species.

Written Answers. - Farm Import Costs.

Written Answers. - Milk Restructuring Scheme.

Written Answers. - European Court of Human Rights Judgment.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - Access to Houses of the Oireachtas.

Written Answers. - Firearms Licence Fee.

Written Answers. - Hare Coursing.

Written Answers. - Company Contract.

Written Answers. - Departmental Inquiry Costs.

Written Answers. - Game Development.

Written Answers. - Tax Refund.

Written Answers. - PRSI Contributions Refund.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - River Suir Drainage.

Written Answers. - Departmental Office Rental Costs.

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Written Answers. - Living Alone Condition.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Written Answers. - Small Claims Courts.

Written Answers. - Voluntary Age Card.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - Non-Payment of Debts.

Written Answers. - Child Abduction.

Written Answers. - Drogheda (Louth) New Garda Station.

Written Answers. - Christmas Bonus.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - Emigrant Advisory Services.

Written Answers. - Social Employment Schemes.

Written Answers. - Driving Tests.

Written Answers. - Driving Restrictions.

Written Answers. - Fermoy (Cork) Water Supply

Written Answers. - County Wexford Sewerage Scheme.

Written Answers. - Oisce (Galway) Water Schemes.

Written Answers. - Athenry (Galway) Water. Scheme.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Water and Sanitary Services Capital Allocations.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Environmental Protection Agency.

Written Answers. - Death Grant.

Written Answers. - Loop Head (Clare) Radio Mast.

Written Answers. - Marine Research and Development.

Written Answers. - Aid to Commercial Harbours.

Written Answers. - Pig Production.

Written Answers. - Grant Payment.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Service.

Written Answers. - Land Deeds.

Written Answers. - Grant Payment.

Written Answers. - Land Deeds.

Written Answers. - Average Farm Incomes

Written Answers. - National Milk Quota.

Written Answers. - Chedder Cheese.

Written Answers. - Bovine TB.

Written Answers. - Headage Payments.

Written Answers. - Council of Agriculture Ministers' Meeting.

Written Answers. - Land Commission Annuities.

Written Answers. - Land Commission Dissolution.

Written Answers. - Rural Development.

Written Answers. - Food Promotion Agency.

Written Answers. - Irish Beef Products.

Written Answers. - Agriculture Installation Aid.

Written Answers. - Horse Racing Authority.

Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

Written Answers. - Teagasc Advisory Service Charges.

Written Answers. - Regional Research Structure.

Written Answers. - Heavy Lamb Sales.

Written Answers. - EC Structural Funds.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Illegal Substances.

Written Answers. - EC Supports.

Written Answers. - Milk Quota.

Written Answers. - EC Quotas.

Written Answers. - Animal Identification.

Written Answers. - National Dairy Council.

Written Answers. - Suckler Cow Premium Scheme.

Written Answers. - Beef Premia Eligibility.

Written Answers. - Green Pound Devaluation.

Written Answers. - Suckler Cow Quota.

Written Answers. - Development Programmes.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Sheep Quota.

Written Answers. - Cavan Farm Development Office Staff.

Written Answers. - Grant Payment.

Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas Appeals.

Written Answers. - Grant Payment.

Written Answers. - Farmyard Pollution.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - National Tourism Strategy.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - Market Development Fund.

Written Answers. - Company Directors.

Written Answers. - Commuter Service.

Written Answers. - Mallow (Cork) Natural Energy Park.

Written Answers. - MMDS Systems.

Written Answers. - Gaeltacht Roads.

Written Answers. - Recreational Facilities.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Donor Organ Bank.

Written Answers. - Heart Surgery.

Written Answers. - Orthodontic Treatment.

Written Answers. - Prenatal Testing Services.

Written Answers. - Premises for the Blind.

Written Answers. - Health Board Allocation.

Written Answers. - Pertussis Vaccination

Written Answers. - County Tipperary School Transport.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - County Tipperary School.

Written Answers. - County Meath Schools.

Written Answers. - Neilstown (Dublin) School.

Written Answers. - Enfield (Meath) School.

Written Answers. - Dublin Home Economics College.

Written Answers. - Estimates for Public Services.

Written Answers. - Carrick-on-Shannon (Leitrim) School.

[1681] Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.

Paidir.

Prayer.

The Taoiseach:  It is proposed to take No. 3.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that: (1) The following arrangements shall apply to the resumed debate on No. 3: (i) The main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrat Party and the Technical Group shall be called on to contribute to the debate first and their speeches shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case, except where paragraph (ii) below applies. (ii) The speeches of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the leaders of the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrat Party and the nominated representative of the Technical Group may not exceed 30 minutes in each case. (iii) The speech of each other member called on shall not exceed 20 minutes. (2) Business shall be interrupted at 4.45 p.m. today. (3) Statements shall be made on the report of the Second Commission on the Status of Women tomorrow and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) The opening statement of the Minister and the statements of each other Member called on shall not exceed 20 minutes. (ii) The Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon not later than 3.40 p.m. to make a statement in reply not exceeding 20 minutes, [1682] (iii) Members may share time. (4) The Dáil shall meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 4.00 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Are the proposals for dealing with the general debate on the budget today satisfactory? Agreed. Is it agreed that business shall be interrupted at 4.45 p.m. today? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I suggest that business might be interrupted at 12 noon today to allow the Minister for Enterprise and Employment to make a statement about the grave situation that appears to be developing in Digital. The House has expressed its concern in a very united way about this and I know the Government would wish to ensure that the House was informed of developments in the most timely fashion possible. The proposal for a brief interruption at 12 noon would allow us to be brought up-to-date on a matter of enormous worry to people, not just in Galway but all over Ireland.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am aware of the importance of the matter.

The Taoiseach:  In response to Deputy Bruton this matter could be dealt with by means of a Private Notice Question if he so desires. If not, I am agreeable to interrupt the House at 4 p.m. when the statements could be made.

Mr. J. Bruton:  We have tried to proceed on this grave matter in as united a fashion as possible notwithstanding our concerns about the lateness of the Government's intervention. I believe, therefore, that statements might be more appropriate than the naturally contentious context of Private Notice Questions. I suggest an interruption at 2.30 p.m.

The Taoiseach:  At 3.45 p.m.?

Mr. J. Bruton:  We will not quarrel about this. I will accept whatever suggestion the Taoiseach makes.

[1683]The Taoiseach:  Yes, after Question Time.

An Ceann Comhairle:  We will deal with the rest of the proposals from the Taoiseach. I take it that business shall be interrupted at 3.45 p.m. for statements on Digital and at 4.45 p.m. for the interruption of ordinary business. Is that agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with tomorrow's business agreed that the House shall meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and adjourn not later than 4 p.m. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I wish to raise the continuing industrial dispute concerning the audio typists. This is causing major problems in the House. I have looked at the terms of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress in regard to the public sector. It clearly favours the concept of independent mediation and mediation is suggested in the appendices to the programme. May I suggest that there be agreement here on the appointment of an independent mediator to examine this dispute? It is highly inappropriate that the Parliament should not have its proceedings adequately reported, as is provided for in Standing Orders, because of an industrial dispute. The settlement of this dispute is within the powers of those sitting in this Chamber.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am grateful to Deputy Bruton for raising this important matter. I am extremely disappointed that my own continuous efforts and that of my office to resolve this dispute with the union and the Department of Finance have not, as yet, been successful. While, as Ceann Comhairle, I cannot divest myself of my statutory responsibility by submitting to binding arbitration, I am, however, prepared as Deputy Bruton suggests, to agree to the use of existing procedures under the conciliation and arbitration scheme which includes provision of the appointment of a mediator, if this can be arranged between the parties concerned, namely, the union and the Department of Finance. This can be [1684] done if the industrial action ceases, perhaps immediately. I will be prepared, as requested, to seek arbitration as quickly as possible in order to resolve this protracted dispute.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I welcome the decisive manner in which you, Sir, have acted. I hope your efforts, combined with the efforts of Deputies on all sides, including Ministers, will yield a good result.

Proinsias De Rossa:  I welcome your willingness to involve a mediator in this situation because, clearly, it is not good for industrial relations that this House be in dispute with its staff. However, the mediation should begin immediately, notwithstanding any stance the Department of Finance or the union may take. If we are to see a quick resolution of this dispute the mediation should get under way today.

Mr. Allen:  On a morning of the announcement in Galway regarding job losses, when the Government is trying to create jobs I ask the Taoiseach to intervene personally in what is happening in the ESB. The ESB is shedding 50 jobs in Cork and I am told more jobs will be lost throughout the country.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair has shown latitude here this morning in respect of the matters which can be raised and should not be raised on the Order of Business. The Deputy should raise that very serious matter in another way and my office will facilitate him.

Mr. Allen:  I will put down a Private Notice Question.

Mr. Rabbitte:  I accept what Deputy Bruton says about the unifed approach of this House to the situation at Digital. Having regard, however, to the fact that the majority of jobs have already been lost and the announcement made, is it not time for the Taoiseach to admit that the flight across the Atlantic was a futile public relations exercise and that this Government acted too——

[1685]An Ceann Comhairle:  I understand this House was to take up this matter later today. Further statements are not helpful at this stage.

Mr. Rabbitte:  I take this very seriously and there is little point in discussing it after the event. The Government was not involved at the early stages but the British Government was. We are talking about job losses at Digital after the event.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Let us move on to the budget debate proper. Deputies may make statements later.

Mr. Shatter:  Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Mr. Quinn:  A profound observation.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Can the Government confirm the veracity of announcements made, apparently since this House began proceedings this morning, that 800 jobs are being lost in Digital.

An Ceann Comhairle:  We seem to be entering into debate. Let us have order. I ask Members——

Mr. Connaughton:  Does the Taoiseach know?

The Taoiseach:  The Taoiseach is well aware. The announcement was expected this morning. It may be that the details were announced since we came into the House this morning.

Mr. Connaughton:  There must be something very wrong when the Taoiseach did not know this morning.

Mr. Allen:  All the Taoiseach can do is smirk at job losses.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Item No. 3.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Connaughton:  I object to snide remarks by the Taoiseach. It is an insult [1686] to the 800 people who lost their jobs this morning.

Mr. Allen:  He is running.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Connaughton, please restrain yourself. If debate on the budget is not going to resume, I will seriously consider adjourning this debate. I ask Deputy John Bruton to resume debate on the budget.

Debate resumed on the following motion:

THAT it is expedient to amend the law relating to customs and inland revenue (including excise) and to make further provision in connection with finance.

Mr. J. Bruton:  This House in conducting this debate and assessing this budget should recognise that it is taking place under the shadow of what is, perhaps, the most disastrous piece of industrial news in the history of this State. Some 800 jobs have been lost in Digital in Galway, in a high technology company, a company which was one of the flagships of the modernisation of the Irish economy since the 1960s. This company was in a sector which was considered to be one where opportunities for expansion were immense and almost unlimited, a sector to which Irish industrial policy makers have devoted perhaps more attention than any other, namely, electronics.

On the day the Government introduced a tax on jobs in a budget, we hear that another 800 jobs have been lost. Could there by any greater dichotomy between the needs of the economy and the people and the budget introduced by the Government than on the very day we have news of the loss of 800 jobs, this Labour-Fianna Fáil Government introduces a further 1 per cent tax on jobs? There is no greater demonstration of the [1687] gulf between the understanding of politicians in Leinster House in their newly refurbished offices and the needs of the people than the imposition of a tax on jobs on the very day that 800 jobs are lost.

Those who look for divisions in this Government are missing the point. The most disturbing feature of this Government is that the two parties actually agree on their approach to dealing with the finances of this country. Both believe extra taxation is the answer. Both parties refuse to see that while increasing taxation may be the simplest way to solve immediate, short term problems it is no substitute for a long term realistic strategy. There is no strategy at all. At every hand's turn the Government addresses symptoms rather than underlying causes.

Relief for mortgage holders is welcome. The real long term response to the problems of those on mortgages is a strategy to bring down interest rates. This would have an immediate beneficial effect on employment and would in a more sustained way relieve the mortgage holder. It must be clear to everyone that the Government has no plan to bring down interest rates even though our economy has been rocked by the currency crisis since early autumn. The Government operates on a muddle through approach.

This is supposed to have been the first budget of a new Government. It sounded like the last budget of a tired and retiring Government. Usually in its first budget a Government tackles difficult and unpopular issues and sketches out a vision for the future. Yesterday's budget did the opposite. It dodged all the difficult tax reform proposals of the Culliton report and postponed all decisions on pay and conditions in the public service. This budget marked time for another year. There was no sense of urgency about the fact that one-third of our people can find no work and an unemployment rate of 20 per cent is costing the taxpayers billions of pounds ever year. There was no sense of urgency about the waste of human talent, the hopelessness and the indignity [1688] of the dole queue. There was no sense of urgency about rates of interest that reward those who leave their money lying risk free in a bank account and penalise those who borrow to produce jobs for someone else.

This budget rewards those whose mottoes are safety first and hold what you have and forget about the country. There is no sense in this budget of a Government wanting to mobilise the people to tackle the nation's problems together. There is every sense of a Government who has settled in very quickly indeed, settled to draw their salaries, to employ their relatives, to refurbish new offices and to avert their eyes from the world around them.

We sit in Kildare Street, Dublin, today, barely a mile from two of the biggest employment exchanges, Werburgh Street and Gardiner Street, where thousands sign on each day—a mile on the map but a thousand miles in the mind as far as the priorities of this Government are concerned. People outside Leinster House are angry with TDs, their salaries and allowances and the empty benches in this House not because they begrudge us the money but because they begrudge the fact that while TDs individually may be sympathetic to their problems, TDs as a group, acting through the Government of the day, seem increasingly unable to do anything about the problems about which they talk all the time. That impression of powerlessness is confirmed by this budget.

This budget should have put job creation at the top of the national agenda. Instead it increased taxes on work, it introduced a 1 per cent levy which increases poverty traps and increases even further the incentive to take or create a job. The Labour Party once said that their policy was one of full employment, yet the same Labour Party now sits in Government having refused the portfolio of the Department of Finance and watches unemployment exceed 300,000 for the first time in our history. Having watched this unemployment figure rise, this Government puts an extra arbitrary levy on those who create or take [1689] a job. Its policy of full employment went out the window as it entered in the door of Government Buildings. The Labour Party, which once used the Dáil to advocate the creation of large Irish owned food companies big enough to develop our indigenous resources, now prefers to use Dáil privilege to refuse to disclose to a tribunal established by the Dáil sources for grave allegations it has made against the Irish food companies. The Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Spring—the present Tánaiste—in a speech in Cork last year, called for tax free lump sums to promote job-sharing and create 75,000 new jobs. Now all that is forgotten and the Labour Party prefers to confine its job creation efforts to the families and friends of its Ministers.

The introduction of a 1 per cent income levy in their first budget says all that needs to be said about the Labour Party's distinctive contribution to the governance of this country. Crude across the board levies of this kind have all the hallmarks of last minute dodges designed to plug a looming gap in the budgetary arithmetic when only a few days were still to run to budget day. Ministers had reached a stalemate and could not think of or agree on anything else.

This is characteristic of the Labour Party in Government. They postpone difficult decisions for so long around the Cabinet table that eventually the only option left is a last minute across the board levy on all income. That is what happened in 1983 and now the Labour Party is only one month in office and it is happening again. This 1 per cent is a betrayal by the Labour Party of those who voted for them. It is a case of a Labour Party taxing labour, a Labour Party taxing work in a country where 300,000 people have no work and 150,000 people have emigrated because they could not find work, yet the supposed party of work wants to tax work so that we can have even less of it.

This levy will be placed on all income without allowance for mortgage, and life assurance commitments. A married person with a dependent spouse will pay the same levy as a person with no family [1690] responsibilities. That is Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party's concept of tax equity.

Fianna Fáil's and the Labour Party's definition of the well off comes through very clearly in the arrangements for this 1 per cent levy on work. With great generosity they have decided that anyone earning less than £173 per week will not have to pay the levy. Anyone earning more than £173 per week is seen as sufficiently well off to pay the full levy on their entire income, including every penny of the first £173. Who are these well off people? Country council workers, Government messengers, clerical assistants, shop assistants, the low paid at work, about whom the Labour Party said so much when they were in Opposition, but are now sufficiently well off to contribute to Labour's 1 per cent levy on work. We are told this levy is temporary. Yes it is temporary, but it will last as long as the Labour Party is in Government, no longer and no shorter than that.

This levy results in double taxation. First your income will be levied at 1 per cent, and then the same income, including the 1 per cent you have already paid, will be liable for income tax. It is double taxation, contrary to all the arguments advanced by Deputy Stagg when he complained that water charges amounted to double taxation. What is his view on this form of Labour Party double taxation on people's income and work?

Mr. Broughan:  We did not tax it.

Mr. J. Bruton:  The first priority of this budget should have been to reduce the costs of creating a job. I believe the Government should have cut employers' and employees' PRSI by a total of 7.5 per cent. To ensure this resulted in extra jobs, not extra overtime and profits, the reduction could have been confined to employees working a 38 hour week or less. By directly tackling the cost of creating a job would have allowed people to find their own job opportunities without form filling, lobbying FÁS, lobbying [1691] county boards for a grant or to see if they know somebody on the board, or lobbying other bureaucracies. People could be empowered by a PRSI cut to get on with creating their own jobs without having to ask a favour from anyone. That would be too simple for the new policy making establishment consisting of the Government and social partners.

The architects of this disastrous currency policy, on which I will speak later, do not believe that people can be trusted to create jobs for themselves or to run their own enterprises. Unless an enterprise consists of filling forms, completing feasibility studies, applying for grants or inviting Minister to official openings, it is not worthwhile in the eyes of the new Government and its chosen social partners.

Labour Party members who are students of European socialist history might recollect what happened to Philip Snowden and Ramsay McDonald. In order to obtain respectability from the big houses of England, they decided to opt for a hard currency policy. They eventually split their party and would never have seen office again were they not rescued by the privations of the Second World War. Those in the Labour Party who are currently enthused by the reception they are receiving from monetarists and economists should reflect on this.

The fundamental cause of poverty is unemployment. This Government has done nothing to address the root cause, but deals with the symptoms. Both Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party see social welfare as a constituency which must be addressed separate from those on PAYE, in agriculture and the self-employed.

They do not see those on social welfare —most of whom do not want to be on it —as wanting to work. In many cases, it is not worth their while to work, when account is taken of the increase in their rent and travel costs — all of which are taxed—and the new levy they will have to pay to fund the Labour Party's inability to agree on other more just areas of social [1692] expenditure or of taxation curtailment. They are not a constituency to be treated with palliatives. They want to work, but are being prevented from doing so by the policies of this Government.

Fine Gael starts at the other end of the spectrum. We see those in receipt of social welfare as individuals, not a collective constituency of 300,000 unemployed. They, above all else, want to get out of the trap they find themselves in. Taxing the employed to fund benefits for the unemployed will create a vicious circle with those at work struggling to support more people out of work. Those who are unfortunate to be on the margin of society must have an adequate income, but taxing work to pay for this is ultimately self-defeating. I regard this as an obvious truth.

The imposition of the 1 per cent levy was an easy option for this Government. I did it so that it could avoid making more fundamental decisions. This budget proves that, after barely a month in office, this Government is already suffering from terminal fatigue. The people voted for change last November, but got nothing of the kind.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,

Mr. O'Malley:  It is difficult to be optimistic or positive in assessing this budget, which is the first from this historic combination of Fianna Fáil and Labour in Government. My kindest opening comment would be to state that it confirms my worst fears, although I will admit to being surprised at the proposed £150 million privatisation programme, but I will return to that later.

I wish I could welcome this budget, and hail it as a refreshing and radical package of measures that would target the unemployment crisis with its myriad of social and economic downsides dogging Irish society but I cannot. The reality of the unemployment crisis has been brought home by the tragic announcement that the manufacturing operation of the Digital plant in Galway, one of the [1693] most outstanding plants in the country, is closing leaving only the software operation here.

The difficulty about the cessation of manufacturing is that all the spin off firms and industries spawned by Digital in Galway over the last 20 years, were almost exclusively established for the purpose of supplying components for the manufacturing operations. The need for components in software and other services is limited because development in this area consists almost exclusively of brain power. I deeply regret what has happened there. I continued to hope, despite ominous rumours circulating in the last number of days, that things might improve, but unfortunately, this did not happen.

This is possibly the most serious closure in Irish manufacturing history, not just because of its size but because of the effect it will have on so many other firms, which will effect many more than the 800 direct jobs now lost. That makes the job creation provisions in this budget even more topical and necessary. Viewed in the context of that news it renders this budget and its provisions very disappointing because they contain nothing to overcome such problems.

As a result of being in Government up to recently, I appreciate the difficulties confronting any Administration and the conflicting demands it faces at budget time, but I am saddened and depressed by the absence of even a semblance of a strategy for getting the economy working efficiently, and the lack of awareness on the part of the Minister for Finance and this Government of the scale and urgency of the problems facing the country.

While in Government the Progressive Democrats sought to advance a coherent strategy aimed at getting this economy working efficiently and generating more sustained employment. The core of that strategy was embodied in a series of measures which we championed, and some of which we saw come to fruition. There were measures, such as the new Companies and Competition Acts to increase the efficiency and accountability of Irish firms on both the domestic and [1694] export markets. We advanced radical pro-jobs tax reforms on the simple premise that a society with a record surplus of labour should not continue to tax labour as if it were a rare commodity. The reality of Digital makes what occurred yesterday, particularly the 1 per cent levy on employment, all the more regrettable.

We advanced significant reform which had realised partial success before our enforced departure from Government. Our period in office was marked by a significant widening of the tax net. There was a very large increase in the tax take from the corporate sector which has roughly trebled in the past four years. There was the removal of a range of anomalies and disincentives and a reduction in personal taxation to two rates, and their reduction in turn to 27 per cent and 48 per cent. The aborted revised Programme for Government which we negotiated in October 1991 envisaged these rates falling further to 25 per cent and 44 per cent. We also wanted to achieve a considerable widening of the standard tax band so that people on average incomes would pay tax only at that rate. We advocated radical overhaul of the PRSI system, which is simply a direct income tax by another name.

Complementing this coherent pro-jobs tax reform strategy, I commissioned the Culliton review of industrial policy on the premises that we would never sustain an effective onslaught on the unemployment crisis unless it was grounded on the development of a massively expanded native industrial sector manufacturing goods and producing services of a quality and price that would command buyers on international markets.

The Culliton prescription was scarcely novel. Anyone who had seriously analysed the problems underpinning our under-performing economy, and the poor returns on massive State investment over many years, already knew them, but its significance lay not in its assembling of the problems but rather in the clarity and coherence of its prescriptions for resolving them. Culliton outlined the institutional changes that were urgently needed from top Government level [1695] downwards, as well as the infrastructural handicaps vis-à-vis energy, telecommunications and transport that had to be overcome. The Culliton report also outlined changes that were essential in the education and training systems, and in the tax system to create an enterprise culture with incentive-based employer and workforce sectors.

It is interesting to recall Culliton's observations that there was no single area within this overall prescription where Government has the greatest opportunity to act than in the area of tax reform. In effect, Culliton confirmed and complemented the Progressive Democrats' analysis of the problem and the necessary solution. In the context of yesterday's budget it would be no harm to remind ourselves of what Culliton said:

By removing the demoralising effect of the current tax system and removing the waste of non-productive tax avoidance activities, reform will create a far more conducive environment for productive enterprise and for more solidly based investment decisions. In no other single areas does the Government have at its disposal the tools to make as far-reaching and effective a reform to support an enterprise economy as in taxation.

I ask the House to look at yesterday's budget in that context. Has anything been done to remove what Culliton calls “the demoralising effect of the current tax system?” I see absolutely nothing. In fact, I see an addition to the demoralisation with the 1 per cent levy which sets back some of the advances that were otherwise made in terms of tax reform, and increases the degree of penalisation. The Culliton report is much talked about now but it is beginning to fall into the same unhappy, slightly sanctified, category as motherhood, apple pie and the Irish team. In other words, everyone agrees with him but when it comes to actually doing something, our support is purely verbal and we effectively ignore the recommendation.

Part of the previous Government, in [1696] which I served, saw the whole of the Culliton report revolving around institutional changes. In the first speech I made on the publication of the Culliton report, on 10 January 1992, I said that I did not want to see a debate about institutional changes. I said Culliton was a prescription that had many components which needed to be taken on board as well as the spirit of the report as a whole. One of the most important elements was to face up to the disincentive aspect of our taxation system, not just of any one particular tax but of the amalgam of taxes, as well as facing the fact that we have huge cost impediments, which Culliton identified in telecommunications, transport and energy. Yesterday's budget increased VAT on telecommunications and energy, which is ridiculous.

There is a petty effort being made to raise £11 million by doubling the existing 1 per cent levy on non-life insurance which consists of motor employers' liability and public liability. I do not know the reason for doing that. The Minister for Finance's justification was that the former levy, which was used to bail out the bankrupt PMPA company, had now come to an end after nine years payment, and that, therefore, it should be replaced. This implied that the former levy to bail out the bankrupt PMPA was beneficial to the economy, and instead of rejoicing that this was at an end, it is replaced by a taxation measure which has the effect of further increasing the cost of essential parts of the economic or commercial process which are already more expensive than in any country. I know of no other country where motor insurance, employers' liability and public liability are more costly than here.

Public liability cover for a function organised by a voluntary organisation used to cost £5 some years ago. It now frequently costs £750 or £1,000 to cover one, simple public function that lasts for a few hours. Frequently, the £1,000 premium is not taken by the organisers at the gate. Even if they were able to devote all the proceeds to the insurance cost, it would not cover the cost. It is in these areas the Government chooses, in [1697] defiance of the Culliton report, to increase the costs of Irish business.

One of the reasons for my disappointment is that it is clear from yesterday's budget that the Culliton report has been, effectively, abandoned by the new Government. I state this, not merely because of the budget's reversal of the tax reforms strategy championed by my party in Government and endorsed by the Culliton report but for a variety of other reasons. Some of the key institutional changes urged by the Culliton report have been abandoned, notably, this Government's decision to hive off the marketing activities of An Bord Tráchtála from an integrated single industrial agency, embracing equity research and development, training and marketing for indigenous industry. The greatest failure of the budget, in regard to the Culliton prescription, is its total failure to address the combined cost handicaps of Irish industry and, in particular, the cost of employing people. The unemployment crisis combined with the competitiveness problems faced by this country, arising from the currency crisis, made it imperative that this budget should have had as its main focus the reduction of the cost handicaps facing Irish Industry. It was obvious that the reduction of PRSI burden, while costly, would be the way forward but this budget offered nothing in this regard. In so far as it addressed the question of the cost of employment, it simply hiked up the cost of employing people through the cynical and administratively easy device of the new 1 per cent income levy.

The extent to which this levy reverses the progress made in recent years, in reducing the income tax burden and easing the plight of the PAYE sector, is graphically summed up in the Minister for Finance's admission on RTE television last night that this measure was the equivalent of moving the present 48 per cent rate to 52.5 per cent. Is it any wonder the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach, during the course of the debate on the financial resolutions said that they regretted the tax reform strategy they had pursued in Government with the Progressive [1698] Democrats. This only demonstrates how blind they are to the appalling impact of a high labour tax regime in this country and to its inevitable blight on job creation. Faced with that attitude, is it any wonder there are over 300,000 in the dole queues and that the Minister for Finance is budgeting for an average rise of 26,000 in the numbers out of work this year.

Instead of facing up to the root and branch agenda presented for radical action by the Culliton report, both parties in Government prefer grandiose sounding projects called special job schemes. This budget proposes something called a £260 million jobs fund while, at the same time it projects only an extra 6,000 jobs or a net 3,000 when the inevitable further loss of jobs in agriculture are taken into account. The figure of 6,000 extra gross jobs puts a price tag of over £43,000 on each of these jobs. The more effective, but less glamorous way forward would be to tackle the excessive cost of employing people, highlighted especially by the PRSI system, and to cut the excessive input costs for Irish industries of essential services like energy, transport and telecommunications. Instead, there is a 5 per cent increase in the cost of phones and electricity, areas where we have some of the highest charges in Europe. How can any Irish industrialist or entrepreneur create jobs faced with the hostile costs environment generated by our own Government? The cost of an overseas call from this country is, on average, 35 per cent higher than that in competing countries in the European Community. Adding 5 per cent to the overall cost is going to make the differential perhaps 36.5 per cent. I cannot see any sense in such moves.

One ray of hope in this budget is the £150 million privatisation programme but we have no details from the Minister on it. My guess is that it consists simply of selling off the remainder of the State's shareholding in Greencore and Irish Life. While I welcome that, it does not achieve a great deal. The Government should be examining precisely what other opportunities exist to dispose of assets that are [1699] almost entirely unproductive and where they can be used to reduce the level of national debt.

The extraordinary employment policies pursued the last number of weeks by the Labour Party in particular, strike me as being far removed from what is required. It seems extraordinary that so many people would be employed at such high salaries for no reason other than the political benefit of Ministers and Ministers of State and that such people should include senior members of, for example, the Labour Party. One such person is the national treasurer of the party and others are close personal relatives of the Ministers and Ministers of State involved. It is not necessary to say much more about this because the people of this country have very strong views about it.

Mr. J. Bruton:  It is called job creation.

Mr. O'Malley:  It comes under what I describe broadly as the employment creation policies or, as Deputy Bruton said, job creation. It does not seem to me to bear much reality to the kind of job creation required in the city and county of Galway on this bleak morning——

Miss Quill:  Or Cork.

Mr. O'Malley:  ——or Cork, or many other places. This Government was in a unique position. It is a new Government. It has a majority of 40, or at least 39 since last night. This majority goes beyond anything that was ever seen in the parliamentary history of this country. It has, therefore, at the beginning of its period of office a unique window of opportunity to take steps which could not be taken by a Government with a narrow majority or a Government coming towards the end of its term of office.

If we were ever to see a different approach to the country's problems, we should have seen it yesterday. What did we see? We saw a lame tinkering about with the status quo. We saw the outstandingly coherent call in the Culliton report for fundamental change absolutely [1700] and finally abandoned. If this Government, at the beginning of its term of office, is not prepared to look forward or to cast aside the policies which have patently not worked and have cost the taxpayers so much, then I begin to wonder what hope there is for the future.

Where is the element of change in this budget? Where is the influence of the Labour Party on the budget? It is remarkable that the party is prepared to accept many of the existing policies that obviously do not work. Minor adjustments have been made and are pronounced beneficial. We exist in a situation which does not work. The Government had an opportunity yesterday to cast it aside and to attack our problems from a different angle but it failed to exploit the opportunity. The Government is in a stronger position in parliamentary and political terms than many other Government but it has chosen to tinker about with the status quo rather than change it.

If the Government did not take the opportunity for change this year the possibility of its doing so in the future is virtually nil. That is the depressing aspect of this budget. It must also be depressing for the many unemployed and for those who have become unemployed today and who face such an appallingly bleak future. The manner in which the Government has chosen to approach our difficulties is profoundly disappointing and can only make many people feel there is little hope for the future.

There is not even the prospect that any new worthwhile thinking will be introduced because the provisions introduced yesterday are patently inadequate. It is a sobering thought that yesterday's budget is far less radical than the relatively modest ones introduced in each of the previous years. I expressed regret at the relatively modest budgets of the past three years but at least they had a coherent direction. There is no coherent direction or underlying philosophy in yesterday's budget. It frightens me that the glorious opportunity, available to a Government with a majority of 40 and [1701] with a mandate for change, should have been so miserably missed.

Mr. Gregory:  I regret the dreadful job losses announced in Galway this morning. It is a tragedy for Galway and the country. Nothing can be said to lessen the impact of this terrible blow.

According to media speculation, inspired or otherwise, this was going to be the harshest budget in recent times. On budget day, even as the Ceann Comhairle warned the House against divulging the context of the budget before it was formally announced in the Dáil, the early edition of Evening Herald carried a very detailed account of the new income levy. Perhaps the source of this leak should be investigated by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. The objective of the leak seems to have been a calculated tactic to soften the blow of the formal announcement of what, in reality, is a form of taxation, and an inequitable tax at that. It is not based on ability to pay and will be levied against even those wage earners who are below the average industrial wage, those who can least afford it. This manipulative use of the media should not be ignored.

It is difficult not to use strong language when referring to aspects of this budget. At least one aspect brings politics further down the road to disrepute, a road politics has travelled at a fast pace for some time. I refer to the litany of broken promises contained in the Minister's Budget Statement. Not only are there numerous broken promises, but the Government reneges on the solemn election commitments given before the last general election. I consider the practice of making commitments and then, when safely in power, abandoning the commitments as unethical as any other form of corruption in politics. I believe this is more damaging to political life and to the public perception of politicians and politics than anything the ethics in politics measures recently put before this House hope to address.

The broken commitments are: the reversal of the “dirty dozen” social welfare cuts, the promised equity for Aer [1702] Lingus, the promised end to privatisation, the promised full mortgage interest relief for hard pressed homeowners, the promised permanent Christmas bonus, the promised protection of the lower income groups, the promised measures to combat unemployment and the promised moves to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Social Welfare. What happened to all of these promises? It is clear from this budget there is no intention of honouring any of them.

The infamous election slogan “health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped” was not a once off exercise in hypocrisy. It has been more than matched by the Labour Party's slogan “vote Labour and reverse the welfare cuts”. If there was an award for duplicity, it would have to be awarded to the Minister for Health, the most vociferous opponent of the hospital charges introduced by Fianna Fáil. The day before the budget he jammed on the brakes and did the biggest U-turn of all by substantially increasing the hospital charges.

The Labour Party are, or I should say were, regarded as the party of the working class, the unemployed and the poor. However, to raise the expectations of the poor and then ignore their plight must be the most unseemly and dishonourable experience of recent political times. It appears there is no honour left in politics and the poor must pay the price. It seems the strategy of defeat, dishonour, lies and hypocrisy is now an acceptable way to attain power today.

The workers in Aer Lingus were told by the Labour Party that the necessary equity would be provided. However, the Budget Statement belatedly makes the reality clear, and I quote:

Subject to the constraints on the national finances (of which there was no mention before the general election) which rule out very large injections of equity, the Government will be prepared to support a viable and convincing plan.

This was Fianna Fáil policy before the general election but it was not the policy [1703] of the Labour Party. The Programme for a Partnership Government said there would be no large-scale privatisation and indeed there will not be because they have changed the term “privatisation”. Instead, assets worth £150 million will be disposed of. “Asset sales” is the new term. There appears to be no end to the cynicism.

The limited assistance given to mortgage holders is welcome. Full mortgage relief was promised to hard-pressed mortgage holders if the problems with interest rates continued. This is another empty promise that will, no doubt, shatter the hopes of thousands of families fighting to keep up mortgage repayments. It is like the promise to make the Christmas bonus a permanent payment.

Some of the lower income groups are to be removed from the tax net. Once again, there is a catch because it is only a temporary measure. As soon as they receive the Programme for Economic and Social Progress increase they will be back in the tax net and as badly off as they were in the first place.

The income levy is a further tax on the PAYE sector. It is difficult to believe the Labour Party could get away with this. That is why it had to be called an income levy. One of the disgraceful aspects of this new tax is that it will be levied on workers whose earnings are below the average industrial wage. So much for the protection of lower paid workers. One in three workers in the public sector earns less than the average industrial wage and will be worse off as a result of the measure contained in this budget. This is, once again, a glaring example of the refusal of successive Governments to move towards a more equitable society by concentrating harsh measures on the higher paid, on those with the ability to pay. Recent tax reductions favour higher income groups. In this budget the burden falls on all earners, including those least able to afford it and especially workers on low incomes who, on balance, will be worse off as a result of this budget.

The biggest single issue facing the country has been given the least attention [1704] or, as previous speakers said, did not receive any attention. This budget offers little hope to the 300,000 unemployed. It accepts there will be an additional 26,000 on the dole by the end of this year. Those who voted for change in the general election were voting for jobs. They were voting for imaginative ways, schemes and projects to create jobs but they received nothing in this budget. There were more imaginative ideas among unemployed groups on the recent “Late Late Show” programme than there are in the 39 pages of the budget speech.

The prediction of more than 400,000 unemployed by the end of the 1990s is almost inevitable. The real disappointment is that this budget, the first for a Government with major participation by the Labour Party, the party of radical change, is not a radical one. It could have been presented by a Fianna Fáil Government without Labour involvement. I would be interested to know how a special delegate conference of the Labour Party would view this budget and its omissions.

It has become mandatory to pay lip-service to the poor at the beginning and end of Budget Statements and this budget is no exception. At the beginning it speaks of ensuring that the less well off in our society are protected and at the end it states that the position of the weaker members of our society will be addressed in several respects. As a Member elected to represent a constituency that has a high proportion of people living in poor circumstances and where unemployment levels can be in excess of 70 per cent to 80 per cent, a constituency shared by the Minister for Finance, I find these references offensive to the poor because in reality their position is not protected. They are worse off as a result of the budgetary measures.

Much publicity surrounds social welfare increases which are said to be set at the rate of inflation. However, they will not come into effect until July. Meanwhile VAT increases, the increases in the price of clothes and food will become effective immediately. Combined with local authority rent increases and the failure [1705] to reverse social welfare cuts, even the most casual analysis will show that the poor will be worse off, or at best will simply remain in a poverty trap. These people will remain below the basic recommended minimum income levels set down in 1986 by the Commission on Social Welfare. The commission regarded people with an income below the level as having an inadequate standard of living. The failure to provide the increasing number of long term unemployed with an adequate minimum income is condemning them to a life of poverty which Members would not accept for themselves or their families. This budgetary-imposed inequality lies at the root of our increasingly divided society and shows clearly how poverty is perpetuated by political decisions.

Each year in the weeks preceding budget day, Members of this House receive a number of detailed submissions from the Conference of Major Religious Superiors Justice Commission, the Combat Poverty Agency, groups working with the homeless, principally Focus Point and Simon, and the unemployed, as well as trade unions and various interest groups. I wish to refer to the submissions from the organisations concerned with social inequality. I agree with their viewpoint but their voice is not being heard. They argue that the type of society which those in power wish to maintain, whether it is an increasingly divided and unequal society or one where the attainment of social equality is a priority or even an objective, can be judged by the budgetary decisions taken by the Government of the day. In recent budgets, for example, where tax concessions have been more beneficial to those on high incomes and where increases in social welfare payments have been minimal, it may be said that Governments, at best, are simply not interested in creating a more equal society or, at worst, are deliberately committed to serving the interests of the rich and affluent and, therefore, have a vested interest in social inequality.

This budget is no different. Once again, the lower paid and those on social welfare are the hardest hit. It is a budget [1706] of the status quo, with no element of change. While it is true that Governments have set up commissions to examine and make recommendations to alleviate inequality, most notably the 1986 Commission on Social Welfare——

An Leas Cheann-Comhairle:  May I interrupt the Deputy as there is an inconsistency in the papers before me. The Deputy has three minutes to complete his 20 minutes. Does he propose, as the nominated representative of the Technical Group, to take the full 30 minutes?

Mr. Gregory:  I propose to take more than 20 minutes.

An Leas Cheann-Comhairle:  In that case, the Deputy has 12 minutes remaining.

Mr. Gregory:  No Government so far has been prepared to implement its recommendations or to set a time-scale for their implementation. Even a Government with strong Labour Party participation, as we have at present, is not prepared to do this. Instead, all recent Government, including the present Labour-Fianna Fáil coalition, have stated that they support the main recommendations of the Commission on Social Welfare and they are working towards their implementation.

According to the Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors the effect of the absence of any genuine political commitment is to condemn at least one million people to live in poverty or below a “minimally adequate standard of living”. They argue that in 1993 the poverty line of minimum income, following from the recommendation of the Commission on Social Welfare, would be £65 for a single person and £104 for a couple. They pose the question which must be asked here: could anyone in this House live with basic dignity on less than this amount? I do not believe it is possible to do so. This budget forces people to live substantially below these levels.

In their budget submission the Justice [1707] Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors urge the Government to ensure that everyone would have a minimum income equivalent to these figures in 1993. They believe, as I do, that the cost could be met from the resources which already exist. We must have a Government with the political will to make the necessary choices. The first choice must be a commitment to eliminate poverty and the Government must have the political will to bring that about. However, the message from successive Governments and high profile economists and commentators who are their fellow-travellers is that social welfare payments represent a spiralling drain on our resources which the State cannot afford and which must be reduced. This approach culminated in the so-called “dirty dozen” welfare cuts under the then Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy McCreevy. This approach has not been reversed in this budget and those members of the Labour Party who fought the general election campaign on a platform committed to reversing the cuts and defending the interests of the poor are now open to the charge of hypocrisy and political dishonesty.

The arguments and statistics presented by the Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors provides us with a different analysis to that of conservative Governments and economists. They point out that in the six years since the publication of the report of the Commission on Social Welfare, Ireland's GNP increased substantially, but the percentage of GNP spent by Government on social welfare, health, housing and education has declined during those years. They point out that the percentage of national income spent specifically on social welfare declined from 14.9 per cent to 13.8 per cent, even though the number of people depending on weekly social welfare payments increased by almost 100,000. This analysis shows that in our divided society the poor are getting poorer and the rich are becoming richer.

This can be readily verified when we [1708] examine the salary scales and increases enjoyed by the top of the scale salary classes in the public and private sector. The salaries of heads of Departments and large Irish companies rose by 52.3 per cent from an average of £28,960 in 1986 to £44,100 in 1992 while, at the same time, the salaries of Departmental Secretaries in the public sector rose by 66.2 per cent, an increase of £23,623. The Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors argues that the income of the better off has risen by more than the income of the lower paid employees and social welfare recipients.

When preparing this analysis, the Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors choose 1986 as the base year because this was when the Commission on Social Welfare published its report. Since then we have heard endless statements from various Governments, economists, public commentators and academics that the recommendations of the Commission on Social Welfare could not be implemented because they were too costly. We now realise that if the percentage of GNP allocated to social welfare had been maintained at 1986 levels, the vast majority of the Commission on Social Welfare's recommendations would now have been implemented, even though an additional 94,000 people depend on social welfare today. Successive Governments have made choices over the past six years. These choices have benefited some people, principally the better off in Irish society. However, these choices have also led to the growing exclusion of other people.

The Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors argues that the agenda of the better off is kept at the forefront of national consciousness by the media which, for the most part, is owned, controlled and operated by members of that class and by high profile economists and public policy commentators who argue their case. All recent budgetary strategy has favoured the socio-economic position of the more affluent, while aggravating the state of [1709] exclusion of the minority who are on or below the poverty level.

That minority is growing and the gap between them and the more affluent is widening. If the centre is to hold, argues the Commission, then a new budgetary strategy is required which would give priority to the elimination of poverty and social division. This would help develop a society which would be less violent, more humane and a safer one in which to live.

That is the analysis in the submission by the Justice Commission of the Conference of Major Religious Superiors. I have quoted from it at length because I do not believe it is even read by those who shape the budgets. I support the position of the Justice Commission and would go further in saying that if the strategy of yesterday's budget continues, and no real attempt is made to create a more equal society, then we are heading for violent social conflict.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring):  I feel I should reply to some of the comments made by Deputy Gregory. I have listened carefully to his contribution. I find it difficult to understand why someone speaks in this House for 25 minutes without making one constructive suggestion in relation to what should be done. The Deputy has not observed the media comment on myself and others close to me in the last number of weeks if he thinks we have the power to influence the media in relation to either the headlines or what is put out in advance of the budget. I find a certain inconsistency and selectivity in the quotations used by Deputy Gregory.

I have had numerous meetings with the Conference of Major Religious Superiors. They have produced some excellent work which I have no difficulty in supporting. Deputy Gregory tends to be very selective in quoting from their deliberations and conclusions. He attacks the Government for not doing enough in relation to mortgage relief and then goes on to refer to other aspects of the conclusions of the Conference of Major [1710] Religious Superiors. But if he looked at some of their conclusions he would realise that they, in fact, have discussed and pointed towards the phasing out of mortgage relief completely, the taxing of child benefit and the phasing out of VHI relief. If Deputy Gregory is to be consistent he should present the reports in total rather than selecting the pieces that suit his point of view.

The Deputy also mentioned the Labour Party's commitments in relation to social welfare and mortgage holders. The whole question of social welfare will be dealt with in detail today by the Minister for Social Welfare and there will be no difficulty in seeing progress in relation to social welfare and promises made in that area.

The budget, which was presented to this House yesterday, represented a series of promises and commitments kept, in a context that required and demanded total management, hard decisions and shared sacrifices. In that sense it is a budget with which I am proud to be associated. It was not a radical budget. There was neither the time nor the room for that. This Government took office five or six weeks ago and since then it has had to grapple with a series of economic and other issues that were not of its making. Inevitably the first budget, and it is the first of several, had to be drawn carefully and prudently.

From the day this Government was formed it has operated against a background of turbulent economic conditions, nationally and internationally. The continuing European recession has been aggravated by the upheavals that have taken place in the financial markets. The task has not been made easier by the attacks of speculators on our currency. High interest rates have damaged our economy and created a great deal of hardship for families with mortgages. Above all, there has been the spectre of unemployment which has passed through the all-time historically high figure of 300,000 people. Behind that statistic lie, on the one hand, countless stories of human suffering and indignity and on the other, the need for far reaching and [1711] fundamental reforms of structures and policies to begin to turn the spiral downwards. In that context the news in relation to Digital this morning is a serious blow, not just to the city of Galway, but to the many families involved and indeed to the economy. It highlights the fragility of mobile investment. Hidden behind the statistics too is a story of disadvantage and inequality — of families in need of shelter, of children going to school cold and ill-equipped, of elderly people waiting patiently for hospital treatments they should have had months, if not years, before.

No Government, coming new to office, can ignore these stories. No Government, coming new to office, can ignore the need to tap into the commitment of its people to change. Above all, no Government, coming new to office, can ignore the demand for wealth and job creation throughout the economy.

This is the first of four budgets that will be presented to this House by this Government. Even though every subsequent budget will be more radical than this one, I believe it is already clear that this Government has not shirked the hard decisions. It is already clear that this is a Government that intends to keep its promises.

The budgetary discipline that we have imposed will ensure that the Exchequer borrowing requirement will be one of the lowest in the European Community this year — well within the range that satisfies our commitment to the Maastricht Treaty. At the same time, we have produced a public capital programme that is up by 20 per cent on last year, demonstrating a commitment to job creation and to steady improvement of the infrastructure of our economy.

We have asked for sacrifice in the budget — I do not deny that for one moment. We have ensured that, to the maximum possible extent, that sacrifice is spread across the community and borne by those most able to bear it and we have begun the task of eliminating disadvantage, starting by substantially [1712] improving the situation of a great many families in Ireland.

Above all, the commitment that this budget has made is that jobs are the number one item on this Government's agenda. No budget in recent years has provided anything like as much money for extra investment in jobs. I have no doubt that the great majority of our people fully recognise the need for such investment.

I have no doubt either that the people will willingly put their shoulders to the wheel in the effort to modernise our economy and infrastructure, position ourselves for further growth and wealth creation, and create jobs in the short and medium term.

The £500 million increase in the public capital programme will result in a whole series of major projects in roads, rail, housing, sanitary services, schools, hospitals, and communications. Coupled with this investment, the new county enterprise boards will spearhead an effort to unleash local dynamism and commitment, and to channel much better use of Structural Funds and the new Cohesion Fund in the creation of jobs and the improvement of the quality of life throughout our country.

Added to these measures, improvements in apprenticeship and training, together with targeted measures for people who are long term unemployed, and a range of incentives for people to invest in jobs, will make as big an impact as possible on our unemployment crisis.

I fully accept that we have a long haul if we are to bring our unemployment level down to anything like an acceptable level, and I have to say that those of us in jobs have to be prepared to accept some measure of sacrifice if we are to achieve that objective in a reasonable period of time. I believe that if the budget and the Estimates are taken together, any objective political commentator will recognise that most of the promises and commitments made, both during the election campaign, and in the Programme for a Partnership Government, have been honestly kept, [1713] despite the very considerable difficulties that the incoming Government faced.

Many of the specific measures to be found in the budget can be traced directly back to their origins in the recent election campaign. I make no apologies for concentrating on those commitments made by the Labour Party in the course of the recent campaign. The following are some of these measures: the resources available for income tax relief are being concentrated to ensure that those on low incomes will be protected; we have gone as far as we can to protect families with mortgages who have been hit by higher interest rates in recent months; the increase of 27 per cent in child benefit is the largest kind in many years, and it is the first phase of much needed reform in this essential area; the provision in the Estimates for 3,500 local authority housing starts, coupled with other spending plans in social housing, represents a complete reversal of policy in this area, and will enable us to make a very good start in redressing the housing crisis; basic rates of Social Welfare are being fully protected against inflation, and many of the measures in this budget will be of particular benefit to elderly people; as the details unfold, it will be clear that many of the cuts in social welfare of the last couple of years are being reversed— and even more work will be done in that area over the next few months; in the area of health care, a significant start is being made in attacking the waiting lists that have so damaged patient care in the past; the increase in the provision for mental handicap is the biggest such increase since the issue of mental handicap was rightly forced to the top of the political agenda; in both Estimates and budget, education spending has been increased to take full account of our determination to redress the growing disadvantage in the whole system, and to honour a series of important commitments; the budget featured the largest increase in Third World aid in many years, and has put us on course to meet a high international standard in this area. All these issues featured in the election campaign; all of them are dealt with in [1714] the Programme for a Partnership Government. Anyone who wishes can examine the manifesto we published in the campaign and they can examine the programme.

I have no doubt that an honest examination will show that to a degree that is perhaps unique in recent years, promises made then are being honoured now. There is much more to come over the next few years as the economy begins to grow and as we come more and more to grips with the issues of equality and justice that are an essential part of the reason we are in Government.

In the light of some of their recent utterances, an honest appraisal would be too much to expect from some of the Opposition parties. I have been astonished by the carping, the vilification, and the sheer dishonesty and hypocrisy of some of the Opposition benches since the Government was formed. Since this is my first opportunity to address it, I would like to take a few moments to refute some of the hypocrisy that has so diminished the Fine Gael Party in particular.

Much of their dishonest criticism has centred around the establishment of the Office of the Tánaiste, and the appointment of advisers to the Government. Let me set the record straight for the benefit of anyone who may have been misled by Opposition comments — the people on the Opposition benches already know what the true position is, even though they choose not to admit it. The Office of the Tánaiste was established, with the agreement of the Government, for one reason only — to monitor the Programme for a Partnership Government effectively and to help ensure that all of its commitments are delivered. It is there to assist in the delivery of a democratic programme, nothing more, and nothing less. It does not exist for the sake of my ego. The only egos in this place that need soothing are the battered and dishevelled egos that failed so totally to make any impact in the election and compounded that failure by the arrogant way they approached its aftermath.

The cost of running the office is made up almost entirely by re-allocating personnel [1715] from other Departments and not, as some would seek to pretend, by incurring extra expenditure. The only extra cost involved is made up by employing two or three people hired for their very particular expertise and I will refer to them in detail in a moment.

In other Departments, we have employed a number of advisers to assist in the process of delivery. The great majority of them, even when they are not civil servants, have come from other areas of the public sector and do not represent any significant additional cost. Some have come from the private sector and some have taken a cut in their private sector incomes to assist in delivering our programme. All of them are motivated by a high degree of public commitment and none of them deserves the vilification that has been heaped on them by some of the begrudgers on the Opposition benches.

The system of advisers, working side by side with committed, dedicated and able civil servants, was essentially pioneered in this country by Dr. Garret Fitzgerald. He knew the value of the system, particular in helping a Government commited to wide-ranging and fundamental changes, and I feel absolutely sure he must have cringed at some of the cheap and dishonest comments on the issue made by representatives of the party he once led with such distinction.

As far as my own position is considered, I want to deal with the suggestion of “jobbery” head on. I carry a fairly heavy work-load. That is well known. I am not complaining about that, it goes with a job that I am proud to do. For ten years, I have employed the same three people to help me with that work-load and to help me provide an effective level of representation to the people that I serve, both as a constituency TD and as Leader of a major political party. One, my sister, runs my constituency office and has done so since she resigned from the Department of Agriculture ten years ago to become my secretary. One runs my office in Leinster House, and another works as an adviser, researcher, and [1716] spokesperson for me. For ten years, they have worked as public servants, in the best sense of that term, and have been paid accordingly. They could stand before any forum and relate the hours of dedicated service they have given to the public, to me and the Labour Party for the past ten years. All of them are well-known to everyone associated with Irish politics and they are well known for their dedication, skill and commitment to their jobs. At no stage in the past ten years has any one of them been accused of being in receipt of political patronage and at no stage in the past ten years has the accusation of jobbery been levelled against me for employing them.

Now that I have become a member of the Government, I have no intention of firing these three people as some have indicated. I intend to continue to employ them because they do good work, serve a very wide community and public interest in the work they do and because they earn every penny of the salaries they are paid. Everyone who knows them knows that. That is is not “jobbery”, it is good sense.

I want to tell the House quite frankly that I am determined to do a good job over the next four years and that I will need help to do it. I greatly value the advice and commitment of every civil servant who works for the Government and I greatly value having sources of independent advice too. I believe strongly that co-operative interaction between civil servants, all of them expert in their own fields, and other experts, with skills and day to day experience of a wider world, can only strengthen the contribution that this Government can make.

For that reason, I intend to employ expertise and to make no apology for doing so. In addition to the three people I have already mentioned, I am recruiting a top-class business manager, a leading and highly-respected economist and an expert lawyer and legal draughtsman to strengthen the Office of the Tánaiste and to make a a major contribution to the work of reform and change. All of them will be paid the rate appropriate to the [1717] job, all of them, will be worked hard over the next four years, and each of them, in his or her own way, will contribute to making Ireland a better place.

Before concluding, I wish to advise the House that as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have responsibility for two Votes; Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. With so many fundamental political and economic interests at stake, the need for an active, well-informed and effective foreign policy has never been clearer.

I am actively engaged in examining these issues, in close consultation with the people who represent Ireland so well around the world, and I am determined to ensure that our foreign policy, which has always been an expression of our independence and sovereignty, as well as our commitment to the community of nations, will continue to reflect values as well as interests. I am examining which of our bilateral relations needs to be strengthened, and how we in the Department of Foreign Affairs can contribute even further to the development of trade, investment and cultural links.

In so far as possible, however, we are determined to ensure that new challenges are met within existing resources and the 1993 budgetary allocation reflects this.

It would be remiss of me not to say a few words about the continuing tragedy of Northern Ireland in this context. I will not, however, go into detail here, since I intend to address the whole subject of Northern Ireland at some length in the next week or so. For the moment, let me refer to the proposals in relation to the establishment of the Foreign Affairs Committee in so far as they concern Northern Ireland. I know that there has been some adverse reaction to the seeming exclusion of Northern Ireland from the deliberations of the committee. It is not my intention that Members of the Oireachtas should be precluded from putting forward views and ideas or debating issues in relation to Northern Ireland, but Members must accept and realise that there are sensitive issues involved and that there will be times when it is simply necessary, and in everybody's interest, [1718] that matters relating to Northern Ireland be dealt with on the basis of total confidentiality. Subject to that understanding, I am prepared to examine ways and means of dealing with the reservations expressed by Members in regard to the terms of reference of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. Cox:  Well done.

Mr. Spring:  In the International Co-operation Vote we have provided £53 million for official development assistance in 1993, an increase of 44 per cent over the 1992 allocation. This fulfills the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to increase overseas development assistance to 0.2 per cent of GNP this year. Despite the acute pressure on every area of public expenditure, the Government has remained resolute on the issue of assistance to the Third World. The difficulties we face in Ireland cannot blind us to the needs of those in the developing world who are suffering from drought, famine and disease. Whatever our problems, they do not bear comparison with the wretchedness of the poorest countries in Africa and elsewhere.

The additional funding for development assistance will be used to increase our bilateral aid efforts and also to provide additional contributions to the various Irish and international aid and development organisations. The allocation for bilateral aid will be increased from £10.9 million in 1992 to £15.3 million this year. My Department is currently finalising plans for expanding our aid programme and we are examining the possibility of including new priority countries, in addition to the four currently targeted — Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Lesotho. The increased allocation of £3.35 million for emergency humanitarian relief will allow us to respond more quickly and generously to requests for assistance following disasters in developing countries.

We will also this year double our voluntary contributions to a range of UN development agencies, including [1719] UNICEF and UNDP, as well as strengthening our co-operation with Irish non-governmental organisations such as Concern, Trócaire and the Red Cross. The 71 per cent increase in the allocation to APSO will allow for a significant increase in the number of Irish volunteers working in developing countries.

In the Programme for a Partnership Government, we committed ourselves to increasing ODA expenditure by 0.5 per cent each year after 1993 in order, by 1997, to place us on a par with our EC partners and to make steady progress towards achieving the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP. I can assure the House that despite the difficult financial situation we will have to confront over the coming years, the Government will not waver in its commitments to the developing world. This is a moral and humanitarian obligation which, as a nation, we cannot shirk.

Once again this week, with the tragic death of Valerie Place in Somalia, we have had the most compelling illustration of the extraordinary commitment and dedication shown by Irish volunteers in so many parts of the developing world. It is entirely fitting that we as a Government should show the fullest support for their work. The tributes that have been paid to Valerie Place this week have been moving and thoroughly well-deserved. I can think of no better tribute than that we should intensify our efforts to bring relief, support, and encouragement to the countries of the developing world, for whose people Valerie Place gave her life.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe:  Today is one of the blackest days in Irish industrial history. We are debating the 1993 budget in the shadow of the Digital disaster, where 800 employees have lost their jobs. Neither the Taoiseach or any of his Ministers was able to confirm this to the Dáil. It was left to Deputy Bruton to raise the issue this morning as the Leader of the Opposition. This is symbolic of the appalling contribution of this Government to that [1720] disaster, and of its approach to the question of jobs.

My contribution to the House today must focus on the jobs crisis. The Fianna Fáil-Labour Government budget is a coward's charter in its failure to confront the problem. It is a blueprint for bigger dole queues. At an individual level, the helplessness of each of the one third of a million without work will now be converted to hopelessness. What is even worse is the phony rhetoric in the budget about jobs.

The Minister for Finance, once again, claims that the budget is framed on the principle that jobs are the overriding national priority. He talks about having to face hard choices and of the need for those in employment to put the need to create jobs above their personal interests. However, neither the Minister nor his colleagues in Government have done this. If the Minister genuinely confronted the jobs crisis, unpopular decisions would have to be made which could impinge on many powerful lobbies, most of whom represent those with jobs.

In his Budget Statement yesterday, the Minister for Finance mentioned that a provision of over £4,000 million is being made for public service pay and pensions for 1993. This represents an increase of 7.5 per cent over the 1992 outturn, which is well ahead of inflation. Even worse, the 1992 figure represented a 10.5 per cent increase over the 1991 outturn. Over the past two years, public service pay and pensions have increased by almost 20 per cent, and all the Minister can tell us is that the scale of this expenditure and its increase continue to be matters of major concern for the Government. Then this Government tells us its overriding priority is job creation. I know there are many low and middle-paid public servants who need their increases badly. However, overall increases of almost 20 per cent in the public service pay bill surely deserve more than a passing reference by the Minister and his Government, who still pretend that job creation and enterprise are their primary objectives.

If you want to discourage cigarette [1721] smoking, you tax it. If you want to further discourage it you tax it more. The problem with the way our public finances are based is that this is exactly what this Government is doing in relation to jobs. Apart from additional taxation, additional PRSI is now payable. Having consulted with economists, Fine Gael made it clear that our objective was to see a reduction in PRSI, because it is essentially a tax on employment. Yet, ceilings will increase from £20,300 to £21,300 for employers, and from £19,000 to £20,000 for employees and the self-employed. Instead of reducing tax on jobs, this Government has increased it and this has been accompanied by the savage imposition of a 1 per cent income levy, which further taxes enterprise. The hard choices made by Fianna Fáil and Labour appear to be nothing more than deciding to give a kick in the teeth to those on PAYE and to those who believed their elected promises about job creation.

In the United States President Clinton produced a budget package calling for sacrifice, which clearly set forth the basis on which those sacrifices could impact on the dole queues and have a real economic effect. Unfortuntely, we have a sacrifice which will have nothing but an adverse impact on these two factors. Those who might have been happy — I know there is a strain of idealism here, if one could only reach and tap it — to shoulder the burden of such a sacrifice would certainly not be willing to undertake it in these circumstances. Charles Lamb wrote: “Young men see visions, old men dream dreams.” If one contrasts the approach of President Bill Clinton and Deputy Ahern, it is clear that the young man seeing the vision is President Clinton and the old man dreaming dreams about job creation is Deputy Ahern.

The Government solution to the job crisis is the imposition of £130 million annually, by way of extra tax from the iniquitous 1 per cent income levy, as well as an extra £25 million, which has not been referred to, by way of PRSI contributions. The overall PRSI take will rise much more having risen by £100 million [1722] last year. The increase will probably be the same this year because of increasing income. There will, however, be a further £25 million because of the increase we have seen that is coupled with an additional annual £130 million yield from the changes in VAT. The additional VAT will also impact on jobs.

Reference was made to the iniquitous 1 per cent income levy as being temporary. I was reminded of William Pitt the Younger who imposed income tax at sixpence in the pound as a temporary measure to pay for the Napoleonic Wars. That is not a good precedent for anybody who would rely on this Government's promise that this levy will be temporary.

Let us not ignore the impact on jobs of the increase in VAT. We have a domestic economy which is as flat as a pancake. There is no confidence in it at all. In many ways the Government does not realise the contribution the domestic economy makes to the creation of jobs. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the domestic economy providing goods and services, many of whom will have to pay a high price for yesterday's Government measures in lost jobs, particularly in the hotel and catering sector. The VAT increase also affects the clothing and footwear industry. I remember all the bruhaha years ago and reference is still made to our party Leader, Deputy Bruton, and the VAT on shoes. Yesterday's budget put through an increase in VAT on shoes, clothes and jobs, yet people who had the brass neck to criticise what was at the time a minor part of the budget and which was approved incidentally by the Labour members of the then Cabinet, now ignore the impact on jobs of these crushing VAT increases.

The optimistic assumptions of the Government put GDP growth at 2.5 per cent, a figure rejected by most independent commentators. The Government says that real disposable income and personal consumer spending will rise by the same figure which has again been rejected by most independent commentators. Even on those optimistic assumptions we are talking, on Government [1723] figures alone, of an increase in the annual live register of 26,000. I believe that this figure is unfortunately an underestimate.

One other aspect of the budget's impact on jobs that has not been highlighted involves the £11 million smash and grab raid on the insurance compensation fund. Essentially, the 1 per cent levy on insurance liability arises out of the ICI disaster and that levy terminated at the end of the year. What we now have is employer, public and motor liability insurance premiums that could have been reduced by a sum equivalent to £11 million per annum. Instead the Government has sequestered this money and the cost to employers will again be adversely affected. Only last week the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, admitted to me, in reply to a Dáil question, that high costs, whether insurance costs or otherwise, have an adverse effect on the trading sector of the economy in terms of output, employment and the ability of firms to compete in the marketplace. Yet that same Minister is a Member of a Government which contributes to those high costs.

A recent report from the NESC pointed out that the rate of employment growth in Ireland has never been sufficient to cater for the potential increase in the labour force at prevailing wage rates. The result is that we have had prolonged episodes of large-scale emigration and/or high unemployment. This report pointed out that over the period 1960-90 total employment in Ireland grew by just 8 per cent from 1.04 million to 1.13 million. During those three decades employment in the EC rose by 13 per cent while employment in the wider OECD group of countries grew by as much as 39 per cent. As a result of this year's budget this appalling record is set to continue.

I had hoped that the link up between the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil in Government would have provided a new standard of which this country might have been proud. Hopes in this regard have, [1724] however, been dashed. The Tánaiste has given no justification whatever for the enormous expenditure on the separate office apparently established, as we all believe, merely to boost his ego. He denied this, yet if one examines what he has to say, reinforces the argument that this office was established to boost his ego. Is it any wonder that there is a cynical reaction amongst the general public to the activities of our £1 million Tánaiste from the Labour Party whose main contribution, despite what he had to say this morning, has been jobs for the boys and to spend money on himself?

Mr Cox:  Two paragraphs on unemployment in 12 pages.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe:  I am grateful for that intervention — 12 pages of self-justification. No, methinks he doth protest too much. I do not believe that he is giving the full picture. He refers to the fact that virtually no costs are involved because the cost of running the office is made up almost entirely by reallocating personnel from other departments. How then in the Book of Estimates have we a situation where, of the £831,000 provided for the office of the Tánaiste, there is not a single penny under subhead A for salaries, wages and allowances? The Estimate comprises: travel and subsistence, £450,000; incidental expenses, £65,000; postal and telecommunication services, £75,000; office machinery and other office supplies, £100,000; office premises expenses, £70,000; and consultancy services, £10,000. How then does the Tánaiste justify telling the House that the cost of running the office is made up almost entirely by reallocating personnel from other Departments and not incurring extra expenditure? This is all extra expenditure. This £1 million Tánaiste is not going to get away with that kind of rubbish that we have had to listen to this morning.

Mr. Woods:  Stop talking in misleading terms.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe:  I am talking about [1725] correcting the misleading record that has been put to this House this morning by the Tánaiste. In relation to jobbery we had hoped for something new, something fresh from the Labour Party. Instead we have had the establishement of an office for the £1 Tánaiste, accompanied by his own colleagues in Government who are giving a disgraceful example by spending substantial public moneys, estimated by one commentator with experience of this House at almost £3 million, on bloated ministerial staff, some of whom are apparently members of their own families. Will this kind of example from either Labour or Fianna Fáil Ministers do anything other than add to the general cynicism with which politicians are viewed? It is certainly not the kind of change for which the people voted last November.

It is important for us to be clear that the kind of justification produced by the Tánaiste this morning is not acceptable. He tells us that for the last ten years he has employed three people to help with his workload and he challenges us to say whether he should fire them. If he employed people for the last ten years that is his own business and he can continue employing them. Does he expect the taxpayers to pay for them now? Even worse, we have a situation where with the greatest bravado he tells us he is not satisfied with all the people already taken on from the Labour Party who were solely helping and advising him on how to run the Labour Party. They had great pride in it. He has the gall to announce that he is to recruit even more highly paid staff. It is outrageous that this House should be subjected to a speech of this nature by somebody who in Opposition talked about high standards and ethics in Government, and who now, with the greatest brass neck comes in and delivers this lengthy speech of self-justification which the hard-suffering taxpayers will laugh at. I am appalled at the reaction of the Tánaiste, from whom I had expected more.

I also expected a caring approach from the Labour Party when it joined the Government. I am glad to see the Minister [1726] of State, Deputy Stagg, here. I presume he is here to justify the health charges which are the meanest cuts of all. They amount to a tax on the sick.

It is ironic that it is now a Labour Minister for Health who is attempting to justify them.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Spring, referred to ODA. I am pleased with the approach now being taken in relation to ODA. Public finances are not a huge factor in foreign policy except in relation to such aid.

I also welcome his reference to reviewing the very restrictive terms which he has proposed for the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs — we pressed him very strongly from this side of the House on that issue. There is a solution in regard to the position in Northern Ireland. It is ludicrous, as we said, to exclude Northern Ireland from discussions at the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. Reference has been made to the political and security aspects of Northern Ireland. I see no justification whatsoever for excluding from discussion the political aspects of Northern Ireland. We are politicians and ultimately there is going to be a political solution there. In relation to the security aspects there may be a case for some arrangement which would ensure that sensitive issues might be discussed in private.

We should put the position regarding ODA in perspective. I am glad that the totally hypocritical approach adopted since Fine Gael left Government in 1987 has been arrested. When Fine Gael left office ODA, for which I was the Minister with responsibility, stood at 0.26 per cent of GNP. The moneys now provided only partly restore the level of ODA that existed when we left office. I am delighted to see the level of ODA going up from 0.16 per cent of GNP, an utterly outrageous figure, to 0.2 per cent. However, it is only partly restoring the situation which we bequeathed to the nation when we left office.

One other new tax deserves to be highlighted. Death duties have been restored for the rich and poor. It has been overlooked [1727] that the 2 per cent probate tax will affect every bereaved family. This is another example of the unthinking, uncaring approach of this Government. Clearly, in the Ireland of Fianna Fáil and Labour, it does not pay to work or provide jobs. There is no escape from the dole queues, one cannot afford to be sick and now there is even an exit tax for everyone who dies.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  I too am very disappointed at the decision of Digital to phase out the manufacturing facility at Galway. Galway is an excellent centre of expertise and professionalism and excellent people work there. It ranks as one of the best technology centres in the world. I hope further development can take place there yet and that some of its operations can be redeemed during the proposing phasing period. I am particularly disappointed as the Department of Social Welfare is one of Digital's largest customers, and I intend to convey my views in that regard also to Digital.

The budget is a budget for people, for people at work, for people trying to generate business, for home-owners, for people who depend on our social welfare services. Most of all, it is a budget for jobs. The budget will keep confidence in the economy. Last year we astounded our European partners with our strength of resolve in managing the currency problem. We successfully held our place in the ERM and proved the inherent stability of our economy. The budget will also stimulate investment and kickstart job creation with the £500 million investment package for roads, ports and housing. The county enterprise partnership boards are getting a £25 million cash boost and the extension of the BES will attract new tourism and leisure projects.

The budget will also protect and strengthen the position of workers, particularly those with families on low pay; and maintain and safeguard the position of people depending on social welfare.

The social welfare improvements [1728] announced in this budget protect the incomes of those dependent on social welfare by maintaining the real value of their social welfare payments, improve payments for children considerably, provide extra support for families at work, underpin the status of the social insurance fund for workers and employers, and underline the work of the voluntary sector.

The Government has provided an additional £180 million a year to maintain the real value of social welfare payments. This brings overall expenditure for 1993 to £3.7 billion, more than £10 million a day for each day of the year.

More than 800,000 people and their 700,000 dependent spouses and children depend on social welfare payments each week. These include 250,000 pensioners, people who have worked hard all their lives and have contributed to the growth and prosperity of our country. Now in retirement, they have the right to expect that their financial position will be safeguarded. Pensioners will be reassured by the provisions in this budget.

Children are a priority with this Government. We are providing an extra £62 million a year for child income support. This is made up by £50 million in child benefit increases and £12 million in higher child dependant allowances and improved FIS.

Child benefit is our universal income support for children. It goes to every mother in the country. It is funded entirely by the taxpayer. It is recognised as a most effective means of directing resources to families. In contrast, increases in child dependant allowances have been shown to create barriers for workers wishing to return to the jobs market, especially for those with large families. Child benefit is paid to families both in and out of work.

Almost half a million families receive child benefit each month and all of those will benefit from the significant increases being provided. This is the beginning of a process in which we plan to increase child income support with the main emphasis on child benefit. Child dependant allowances payable with all weekly [1729] social welfare and health board payments are being increased by £0.30 per child per week, that is an increase of the order of 2.4 per cent in line with this new approach.

The main features in this year's budget are:

3.5 per cent increase in all weekly social welfare and health board payments. These increases will apply to personal rates and adult dependant allowances and come into effect at the end of July. This will cost £113 million a year and some £50 million this year.

A special increase of 4.9 per cent in all short term payments at a cost of £7 million a year. Child benefit is being increased to £20.00 per child for each of the first three children and to £23.00 for the fourth child on. This is an increase of £4.20 per month or 26.6 per cent in the rate for each of the first three children. The new rates will come into effect from the beginning of September. A £12 a week increase in the family income supplement. An increase of £6.20 a week, 11.7 per cent in the carer's allowance to bring it to the long term rate of £59.20. An increase of £5 in both the minimum and maximum rates of maternity benefit. A new grant of £200 for mothers on the birth of twins. A better deal for unemployed people who qualify for the third level education scheme. The maintainence element of their higher education grants will be disregarded in determining their allowance. An extra £1.37 million in grants to the voluntary sector and to assist in measures to conteract moneylending.

An additional grant of £100,000 to the Combat Poverty Agency. Changes in recent measures which adversely affected people's claims to unemployment assistance, disability benefit and treatment benefit. Changes in the regulations improving the entitlement of part-time workers. Free colour television licence for pensioners who already qualify for the black and white licence and who also qualify for free fuel.

[1730] Over the last number of years the Government has progressively increased the lowest social welfare payments. The long term payments reached the Commission on Social Welfare's priority rates in July 1991. All pensioners, widows, lone parents, deserted wives and the long term unemployed have been receiving at least the priority rate for the past two years. That group represents 80 per cent of the total number of weekly recipients. Special increases, over and above the general increase, for all short term payments were given last year and I am glad to continue that process this year. The current personal rate of £53 per week is being increased to £55.60 per week, an increase of 4.9 per cent. This new rate applies to: disability benefit, unemployment benefit, short term unemployment assistance, and supplementary welfare allowance. Considerable progress has been made in recent years towards bridging the gap for this group. That progress is being considered this year with £7 million a year being allocated for that purpose.

The package of general, special and child benefit increases, is best illustrated by the following examples: a couple with two children on short term unemployment assistance or supplementary welfare allowance will receive a total of £125.94 per week, taking child benefit into account — they will be £6.34, or 5.3 per cent a week better-off. A couple with four children on long term unemployment assistance will receive an increase of £7.34, or 4.7 per cent per week, taking child benefit into account, bringing their total weekly payment to £165.07. An old age pensioner couple each on a non-contributory pension will receive a total increase of £4 bringing their weekly pension to £59.20 each. A couple both over 66 on a contributory old age pension will receive a payment of £112.80 which is an increase of £3.80 per week. A widow or deserted wife with four children, on a contributory payment, will receive a total payment of £147.77, taking child benefit into account, which is an increase of £6.24, or 4.4 per cent, on their weekly payment and a lone parent with [1731] one child will receive an increase of £3.27 a week, taking child benefit into account, bringing their total payment to £78.72 a week.

The carer's allowance, which I introduced in 1990, was designed as an income maintenance payment to cares providing full-time care and attention to social welfare pensioners. It recognised, for the first time, the important role of carers in society. Since its introduction, the allowance has been increased and improved each year and has been extended to cover carers of people receiving payments other than social welfare payments. With effect from July next, the weekly rate of carer's allowance is being increased to the long term rate of social welfare payments, that is £59.20 a week. There are 4,400 people receiving the carer's allowance at present.

The weekly income thresholds for the family income supplement have been increased at each point by £20. This will give recipients an additional £12 per week in their payment. More than ever, this scheme now represents major support to workers bringing up families on low pay.

The social insurance fund is the cornerstone of the social insurance scheme. It exemplifies the partnership consensus which exists between workers, employers and the State. Since 1988 the selfemployed have been making an increasingly important contribution to the fund.

The social insurance fund is working well. This year, the fund will spend £1,800 million, of which £1,080 million, 60 per cent, is contributed by employers; £470 million, 26 per cent, by employees; £72 million, 4 per cent, by the self-employed with the State meeting the balance required of £178 million, 10 per cent.

This fund provides benefits for all insured workers. The main groups benefiting from the fund are: 84,000 unemployed people and their families, £179 million; 95,000 people who are ill, £362 million; 129,000 pensioners, £556 million; and 86,000 widows, £294 million.

As Deputies can see, the fund is an important investment for both workers [1732] and employers. Despite the extra pressure it has come under in the recent past, it is vital that PRSI contributors have confidence that their rights and entitlements will be safeguarded.

Some recent changes in schemes covered by the fund impacted on contributions to the social insurance fund in a way that undermined their confidence in the ability of the fund to meet their needs. The Government has accepted my proposals for the following adjustments. On Unemployment Assistance, I propose to increase substantially the daily earnings which will be disregarded in assessing earnings from casual employment. Details of the improved disregards will be announced in the forthcoming Social Welfare Bill.

Mr. Cox:  Excellent.

Dr. Woods:  On disability benefit, the rule requiring at least 13 paid PRSI contributions in a recent contribution year will not apply to people on long term unemployment assistance and the pre-retirement allowance when they claim disability benefit. On treatment benefit I am introducing the following changes in the treatment benefit scheme. The earnings limit of £25,000 per annum for eligibility will be increased to £30,000 — the corresponding limit for a non-working spouse will be £60,000. The rule requiring at least 13 paid PRSI contributions in a recent contribution year will not apply to people on long term unemployment assistance and pre-retirement allowance — this rule has already been lifted for invalidity pensioners and people receiving long term disability benefit and pensioners who were adversely affected by the increase in the contribution condition requiring five years paid contributions will be restored to benefit — the former contribution condition will continue to apply in their case.

With regard to the recent measures concerning exceptional needs payments under the supplementary welfare allownce scheme, I am at present examining the effects of these measures on people who have recourse to supplementary welfare [1733] allowance. The suitability of dealing on a regular basis with periodic household bills under what are exceptional needs provision is being addressed in my review. I am convinced that there is a better way of meeting these needs and I expect to make an announcement soon. Meanwhile, the Government has allocated an additional £11 million to the scheme and I wish to stress that community welfare officers have discretion under the Act to make payments for exceptional needs and to ensure that the needs of families in particular are met. The total allocation for supplementary welfare allowance is now £112 million.

Earlier this year, part-time workers, brought into insurance for the first time in April 1991, became eligible for unemployment benefit and disability benefit. A new condition for entitlement to unemployment benefit was introduced under which claimants had to have suffered a substantial loss of employment in order to qualify for benefit. I have decided to relax the substantial loss of employment condition by reducing, from two days to one day, the loss of employment which a claimant must incur. This change will make it easier for part-time workers to qualify for unemployment benefit.

My Department provides a free black and white television licence to about 180,000 pensioners and disabled persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments. I am delighted to be able to give a free colour licence to those already getting the black and white licence and who also qualify for a free fuel allowance. This will be of considerable benefit to these pensioners. I also intend to include a small number of persons in other categories who would qualify were it not for their particular living conditions.

I am particularly pleased to introduce the new grant of £200 for mothers on the birth of twins. The minimum payment of maternity benefit will be increased from £60 to £65 and the maximum rate from £154 to £159. The increase in the minimum payment will ensure that the maternity benefit rate will be at least as much as a worker would receive if they were out sick from work.

[1734] There are 330 people on the third level allowance which I introduced to enable the long term unemployed people to take on full-time study. Where a higher education grant is payable, the maintenance element is assessable in full for means test purposes. I propose to disregard the maintenance element of the higher education grant for the third level allowance means test.

Voluntary and community groups play an important part in improving the quality of the lives of people dependent on social welfare. I would like to put on record my personal appreciation of the invaluable work being carried out by voluntary and community groups throughout the country. I am committed to continuing and developing the supports provided by my Department in this area. I am delighted that the Government has accepted my proposals for an additional £1.37 million for this activity in 1993. This brings the overall allocation this year for support for voluntary activity to £4.73 million.

In addition to maintaining the supports already provided for, I intend to make a number of once-off special grants to voluntary organisations in need of assistance or to fund proposals for innovative services — £780,000 has been provided for these grants in the budget in addition to the £600,000 provided in the 1993 Estimates; increase by £250,000 the amount available under the community development programme to enable the programme to be extended to a number of new areas — this brings the overall allocation for the programme to £1.5 million; continue and develop a pilot programme of advice and assistance to low income families to combat the problems associated with moneylending — I am providing an additional £240,000 for this pilot programme bringing the overall allocation in 1993 to £500,000. I intend to increase by £100,000 the amount available for locally based women's groups bringing the total allocation in 1993 to £600,000. In addition I am allocating an extra £100,000 to the Combat Poverty Agency bringing their allocation for 1993 to £1.48 million.

[1735] I have outlined for Deputies a number of once-off special grants which I made in the context of the budget. The Minister mentioned some of them yesterday and I will outline the remainder. The total allocation is £1.37 million. A grant will go to the Respite Care Trust Fund amounting to £500,000. A sum of £100,000 will go to a special fund for retired people to facilitate the introduction of a social mentor scheme. I want to encourage voluntary and community groups to develop innovative measures aimed at providing support for vulnerable elderly people in the community and also to give retired people the opportunity to help enterprise groups by making their skills available to them after they have retired.

There will also be a grant of £40,000 to Senior Citizens Concern at Ramsgrange; £25,000 to Energy Action; £100,000 for voluntary groups who bring forward schemes to help lone parents to get back into the work force or education; £50,000 to the National League of the Blind for people with disabilities; £40,000 to the Rehabilitation Insititute; £40,000 to the Irish Wheelchair Association; £25,000 to the Capuchin Centre for Homeless Men; £20,000 to the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups to enable them to provide accommodation and administrative facilities and a training resource to more than 30 small voluntary organisations; £20,000 to Barnardos; £20,000 to Cherry Orchard Family Resource Centre; £20,000 to Droichead Nua Family Support Group and £20,000 to Newbury House Family Centre in Cork.

Mr. Cox:  The Minister should come up for air.

Dr. Woods:  A sum of £40,000 will be provided to ICTU to enable it to employ two training officers to develop the social welfare advice role in their unemployed centres; £20,000 will be paid to our good friends, the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, to help them with their works so they can criticise us more; £25,000 will be paid to the National [1736] Headquarters of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council; £50,000 will go to Incare, Centre for Independent Living to enable it to employ 25 unemployed people and train them as personal assistants for people with severe physical disabilities and £30,000 will go to the Fountain Resource Group.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I warmly welcome that.

Dr. Woods:  The Tallaght NOW group, AONTAS and the Lourdes Youth and Community Service will receive £50,000 each under the EC NOW programme.

In relation to moneylending we will be able to extend the existing programme, and I propose to bring to Government shortly plans for a new transition to work programme. This programme will build on the successes of various Programme for Economic and Social Progress initiatives piloted in 12 designated areas of high unemployment. These arose from the community development programme introduced by me in 1990 but will now also include new initiatives to support people preparing to re-enter the workforce and find a niche for themselves in gainful employment. We will work closely, of course, with the county enterprise partnership boards in developing initiatives. Greater support for people and security for their families in making the transition to full-time or part-time work will be a main element of the proposals.

I will return to the House later with more details but I want to encourage inexperienced young people to get training and education and get into the workforce — that is something Members on all sides of the House would want.

Unemployed people are not just part of the jobs equation. Thousands of them have ideas, motivation, the drive and the courage to confront their situations. I want to provide them with the flexibility and support they need to take that step. This budget consolidates the provisions of our social welfare services and allows me a certain latitude to do some of the things Members would like.

[1737]Proinsias De Rossa:  On a point of order, I would like to ask the Minister a brief question. I welcome much of what he said in his speech today. Would he agree to withdraw Circulars 14/92 and 18/92 pending a review of how the system works.

Acting Chairman:  The Deputy is taking advantage of his point of order and he knows it. The Deputy will be speaking later. I notice the Minister is not going to reply.

Proinsias De Rossa:  It would not cost the Minister anything to drop Circulars 14/92 and 18/92. Can he drop them now?

Dr. Woods:  I have made it quite clear that community welfare officers have discretion.

Proinsias De Rossa:  Not under Circular 18/92.

Dr. Woods:  If some of them do not realise that they may use their discretion the Deputy should tell them to contact me and I will reassure them.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I am glad to have an opportunity to participate in this debate directly after the contribution of the Minister for Social Welfare. I will make a few general observations before I speak in detail on the general economic effects of the budget and its effect on poverty. It is ironic that the Minister for Social Welfare should make his speech flanked by Deputy Stagg, who is now a Minister of State. Deputy Stagg single-handedly managed to have Deputy McCreevy transferred from the Department of Social Welfare because of what, he very aptly called, “the dirty dozen”. There is a smile on Deputy Stagg's face and I do not know why because not one of the “dirty dozen” have been reversed in this budget.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg):  The Deputy must not have been able to read my simple and straightforward leaflet.

[1738]Mr. J. Mitchell:  Can I take it that Deputy Stagg is happy that things have not been changed?

Dr. Woods:  Progress is being made.

Acting Chairman:  Deputy Jim Mitchell, without interruption please.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  The reality is that most of the outrageous cutbacks in social welfare were ill-advised changes which were made in the past year and remained firmly in place.

Dr. Woods:  That is not true.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I will be happy to highlight the outrageous anomalies and problems that still remain in social welfare after this budget despite all the protestations of the great “socialists”, Deputy Stagg and his colleagues. The sad fact which has emerged in the past six weeks is that the Labour Ministers and Deputies are on a gravy train since they came to power. They are appointing their families and friends to office while there is no money to pay people living in poverty and those who are entitled to social welfare payments.

The Labour Party's behaviour has been quite disgraceful and unconscionable. The Tánaiste's new highly promoted Office is costing £800,000 to the taxpayer, £600,000 of which is new expenditure. Can the two Ministers of State opposite justify that expenditure when people who were paying £10 a day for hospital charges will now pay £25? The £800,000 being spent on the Tánaiste's Office is only being spent on one Minister. We will get the full bill for the rest of the Ministers and Ministers of State, and their handlers shortly. That £800,000 is the equivalent of 80,000 bed nights at £10 and those bed nights could have been paid for by the Government and the burden lifted from workers. The Labour Party have increased hospital charges to £25 per night. Deputy Stagg is silent, will he answer now?

Deputy Stagg should examine his conscience [1739] and the Minister of State at the Department of Social Welfare should do likewise. How can they justify this? The fact is that the Deputy, and his colleagues, are all on a gravy train, they have filled their pockets and those of their families and friends since coming to office. How many Minister's children, brothers and sisters, have been put on the State payroll since the Deputy came to office? They have been filling their own pockets and those of their families and friends since assuming office.

Mr. Stagg:  That is a scandalous remark.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  How many Minister's children, brothers and sisters have been appointed and placed on the State payroll since the Government assumed office?

Mr. Stagg:  That is an absolutely scandalous remark.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  It is scandalous but true.

Acting Chairman:  Deputy Jim Mitchell cannot engage in an argument across the floor of the Chamber, as he well knows. I will listen to the Deputy. The Minister will reply later.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I do not mean to be disorderly but I am angry like the vast majority of people, about what the Labour Party is doing in Government.

Mr. Stagg:  The Deputy must find it difficult to discover anything wrong with the budget since he has not referred to it yet.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  According to the Tánaiste's office, up to yesterday £800,000 would have paid for 80,000 nights in hospital beds. However, because the cost has increased to £25 per night, the number of bed nights will decrease.

There was nothing new in the contribution of the Minister for Social Welfare. [1740] Everything had been announced yesterday. The Minister went through the Budget Statement of the Minister for Finance, what was contained in the Principal Features of the Budget 1993 or in the press release issued by his Department. There is no suggestion that the Minister understands the role of the Department of Social Welfare in regenerating this economy as the principal means of alleviating poverty. There is no mention of economic development in the Minister's statement. That is the central point of my speech. I have believed for a long time that the manner in which the Department of Social Welfare spends its considerable budget causes poverty. It is wasting hundreds of millions of pounds. I will give illustrations shortly.

The budget is £3.7 billion, a considerable sum of money but the end result will be more unemployment and poverty. A central feature of our social welfare system as it relates to our tax system is that it traps people in poverty. When I was a Minister I wrote a memorandum when Barry Desmond was Minister for Health. He took it as an attack on social welfare when I said that everybody wants a good social welfare system. However, our social welfare system traps people in poverty.

Prior to the 1988 budget I wrote an article for the Irish Independent highlighting the poverty trap. I devised a table showing all the adjustments vis-à-vis a person on the average industrial wage and a person on unemployment assistance, especially someone with a family. When one makes all the adjustments after transport costs to work, pension contributions, medical cards, differential rent, Christmas bonus etc., the reality is that since 1988 people are worse off in work on the average industrial wage than they would be on unemployment assistance.

Mr. Stagg:  Is the Deputy suggesting that social welfare benefits should be cut? Are recipients being paid too much?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  The point I am making is that everyone, even the Labour Party, [1741] knows people on the dole are not being paid enough. They are living in poverty.

Mr. Stagg:  What is the Deputy's argument? Are wages too low?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  If a person takes up a job he or she will be worse off. That is my argument.

Mr. Stagg:  Are the wages too low?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  No, the taxes are too high and the Government increased them further in yesterday's budget. That is my first point, the Government does not understand what it is doing. The Government placed another 1 per cent levy on all income yesterday which has further increased the poverty trap.

Mr. Stagg:  That is not true.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  It is true. I will demonstrate it in another article I shall write next week which will adjust tables as a consequence of this budget. Deputy Stagg and his “socialist” colleagues do not understand that people living in poverty on social welfare are trapped in that poverty. If they take up a job they will be worse off in every single circumstance.

Mr. Stagg:  The Deputy is talking about slave wages.

Mr. J Mitchell:  I am talking about the average industrial wage, not slave wages.

Acting Chairman:  The Minister of State, Deputy Stagg, knows he cannot continue to interrupt the Deputy in this fashion. If he does, I remind him there is a cure.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I name the Minister of State.

Acting Chairman:  Will Deputy Mitchell please continue?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  It is clear from the Minister's heckling that he does not understand the problem, nor indeed does [1742] the Government. The tax and social welfare policies of the Government mean that this economy is trapped in poverty. Anyone married with two children or more on the average industrial wage will be worse off than if they were in receipt of unemployment assistance and they are already living in poverty. The budget makes that position worse because of the 1 per cent levy and the increased ceiling for PRSI for employers and employees.

Two further significant costs will make matters worse. Disability benefit is to be taxed, a great socialist development. People who get sick and go into hospital will have to pay more — £25 a day instead of £10 and £250 instead of £100 if they are there for ten days.

This situation started in 1988. At that stage people on the average industrial wage were £2.30 worse off, not counting the cost of a medical card in that assessment. In answer to a question to the Minister for Health I discovered this cost is, on average, £6 per week. People were worse off then by approximately £8.88. After last year's budget they were worse off by approximately £33 a week, and, as a result of this budget they will be worse off by approximately £37 a week. Many people do not qualify for a medical card because they are assessed on gross rather than net pay. The rent differential will be adjusted upwards, as always happens, quietly and unannounced. Transport costs for work go up because of increased petrol prices or bus fares. All these factors mean workers will be worse off each year.

A worker on the average industrial wage of £240 a week will be worse off than somebody living in poverty on social welfare of £140 a week. It costs the employer £350 to pay that sum, when one considers public liability insurance, sick pay, PRSI etc. This economy is caught in that bind. This is the sixth budget in a row in which the Government has demonstrated it does not understand the problem because it has made matters worse.

Ms E. Fitzgerald:  What about the [1743] family income supplement and the increase in children's allowance?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  The children's allowance benefits equally those in and out of work.

Ms E. Fitzgerald:  It helps those in poverty traps.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  The Minister of State at the Office of the Tánaiste will receive the children's allowance. She is not living in poverty. Hers is a two income family. I do not need the children's allowance but I receive it. Thousands of my constituents living on small incomes receive the same children's allowance as the Minister of State. How socialist is that? How can it be maintained that it is targeted at the poor?

The Labour Party ceased addressing that constituency; it is addressing the new middle classes of Dublin South which the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald now represents. They are looked after, not the poor of Dublin Central. The rich have received as much as the poor in children's allowances. How can a socialist Minister justify that when there is so much grinding poverty? I know all the arguments about paying everybody equally.

Mr. Stagg:  Obviously, the Deputy does not understand them.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I understand——

Mr. Stagg:  There was a 26 per cent increase in children's allowances.

Ms E. Fitzgerald:  Deputy Mitchell does not understand.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I also understand that when there is a shortage of funds those funds should be directed and targeted at those who are in dire need.

Mr. Stagg:  Does that mean means-testing?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I would tolerate [1744] means-testing if it meant that the less well off would receive the allowance rather than those who do not need it.

Mr. Stagg:  The Deputy is good at that.

Ms E. Fitzgerald:  That is what creates poverty.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Browne,:  Carlow-Kilkenny): I would remind Ministers that they cannot continue to interrupt. The Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Fitzgerald, is the next speaker and she will have the right to speak without interruption.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I am very glad of the interruptions because——

Mr. Stagg:  I know the Deputy is.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  ——I know that not alone am I annoying the two Ministers of State present because what I say is true, but I am touching a sore, raw nerve among their supporters. Before the Minister of State at the Department of Finance came in, I said the Labour Ministers and backbenchers were on a gravy train looking after themselves. There will now be the chairmanship and convenors of the various committees which will result in more money for Labour backbenchers in addition to the advisers to Ministers and Ministers of State. We are more than doubling the cost of hospital beds to workers who are already less well off by being at work. Clearly, the Ministers have lost the run of themselves and have abandoned the working class and are now going helter-skelter for the middle classes. There is no other explanation for what they are doing.

It is not profitable for anyone to take or create a job here. We badly need several key reforms; one of which should be to reduce taxes on employment, notably PRSI, which the Government increased yesterday. We should reduce PRSI which amounts to a 20 per cent tax on jobs. In addition, taking into account the two income levies, the health levy and the other encumbrances we put on [1745] employers, it is impossible to employ people. Employers — and not only Digital — are reducing their workforces. I understand some of our banks will produce major redundancy programmes in the next few weeks. We are talking about up to 1,200 job losses in one of our major banks in the near future.

Mr. Stagg:  And they make no profits?

Mr. J. Mitchell:  If they can make more profits elsewhere — I know the Minister of State deeply resents anyone making profits — they will go elsewhere. If it is profitable for them to employ people they will but the Minister of State, and his philosophy, is making it impossible for them to employ people. We increased the pay roll tax by levies and increasing the ceilings when we should have been doing the reverse. That is one key element. I wish to give an example. I will not name the private company concerned which has a turnover in excess of £500 million and employs 123 people. It pays in employers PRSI, £300,000. CIE, a public company, which employs 12,000 people has a turnover of less than £500 million, and they pay £32 million for the pleasure and privilege of employing those people. It is no wonder that the management in CIE, An Post and Telecom Éireann have been reducing their workforces.

I had hoped it would be announced in the budget that all means-testing would be on take home pay rather than gross pay. I have been pressing for years that change, which was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1984. One of the great anomalies is that people are losing entitlement on money they never see. Eligibility for medical cards, differential rent, civil legal aid and higher education grants should be based on take home pay rather than gross pay. People are being assessed on money they never see and can never enjoy. The 1 per cent levy is a form of double taxation because people will be taxed on the element which is taken away from them in PAYE.

We must also decisively reduce income tax, preferably by substantially increasing [1746] allowances and bands. That has to be paid for.

Mr. Stagg:  We did increase them.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  They were hardly indexed. Let us set as an objective for the next three years——

Acting Chairman:  Deputy, you are exceeding your time limit.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  ——to attain the bands and allowances prevailing in Northern Ireland and Scotland where they have won 850 jobs from this country. I am angry because not only the social welfare element, but this entire budget has gone in the wrong direction. It has exacerbated all that is wrong in a system which is accentuating our unemployment problem.

Acting Chairman:  I will be angry if the Deputy does not finish.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  The Chair should allow me some injury time because of the ministerial heckling. I hope it is not too late this year to reverse some of the Government's ridiculous social welfare rules such as forcing young people out of their parents' home in order to qualify for unemployment assistance, thereby qualifying for the full assistance, a medical card and rent subsidy and costing the State a great deal of money because of stupid social welfare rules and policies. It is one of hundreds of anomalies which these Ministers have refused to change. The social welfare budget which is supposed to alleviate poverty is causing poverty.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Ms E. Fitzgerald):  I am six weeks in Government today, unlike Deputy Jim Mitchell who spent five years in Government. I have not been able to change the world overnight but the budget marks key progress and the fulfilment of key commitments made by the Labour Party and included in the Government programme.

[1747] First, there has been a £500 million increase in public investment, from £1.85 billion last year to £2.34 billion in 1993, with a significant impact on jobs. There was reference on the radio this morning to this being only £500 million as if it was only £5. This is a very significant increase and injection into public capital spending which will have a significant impact on jobs now and in the future. Secondly, and my colleague, Minister of State, Deputy Stagg, is responsible for this, 3,500 council homes are to be constructed to begin to tackle the housing crisis which has built up over the past five years. Thirdly £20 million is being provided to tackle waiting lists for hospital treatment, fourthly, £8 million is being provided for people with mental handicap, the largest step yet in implementing the needs and abilities report.

There has also been a 27 per cent increase in child benefit and social welfare improvements well ahead of inflation for those on the lowest rates, in line with the recommendations of the Commission on Social Welfare. We targeted help for mortgage holders in difficulty and income tax relief and improvements in family income supplements focused on the low paid.

This has been a particularly difficult budget to frame for two reasons. First, the acute difficulties caused for our open economy by the downturn in world economic activity, high interest rates and uncertainty in the exchange markets. Second, there are problems this year because of a series of once-off factors which were there before we took office. In these difficult circumstances, it is all the more welcome that we have been able to move ahead on so much of the Government programme in the first year, and, in particular, during the first weeks.

Within the constraints of the tight financial discipline it has been possible to give a significant boost to job creation through expanded public sector investment, funded both under the Public Capital Programme which has increased by 25 per cent and through the investment of Cohesion Fund and other revenues. [1748] Table 6 in the Principal Features shows the substantial boost to public sector investment which is being undertaken in the current year. A sum of £500 million is large money in anybody's book.

Over the last five years, housing capital has borne the brunt of cutbacks in Government spending, and housing waiting lists have soared. This has led to an acute problem of homelessness. Full hostels have led to significant spending by local authorities on bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless people. The supplementary welfare allowance scheme has been paying up to £20 million a year in rent allowances for insecure and often substandard private rented housing.

I am therefore, particularly pleased to see the substantial investment in local authority housing planned for the coming year, with work on 3,500 houses due to begin in the near future. This represents more than the investment in housing during the last three years and it is a significant change. The Labour Party influence in Government is clearly seen in this measure which will make inroads into a serious housing problem. It makes far more sense to invest in long term homes of good quality than to spend a high proportion of public money on stop gap solutions. It must, however, be recognised that it will not be possible to eliminate overnight a backlog on housing waiting lists which has built up over a number of years.

The housing programme will have considerable spin-offs in terms of local employment. Building is a labour intensive industry, using primarily Irish materials, and the direct and indirect effects on jobs will be positive. This investment will also make a significant contribution to urban renewal.

I am delighted that it has been possible in this budget to carry through two important commitments in the Programme for Government. First, £20 million has been allocated to tackle waiting lists which have grown to unacceptable levels. Second, £8 million has been allocated to handicap services, primarily mental handicap. I know the pressure on [1749] parents who have been trying to soldier on caring for a handicapped son or daughter when they are no longer able to cope, and the tremendous worry and fear those parents have about what will happen their child in the future. The Needs and Abilities report documented the extent of unmet needs in the mental handicap services, particularly the acute shortage of long term residential places and the shortage of day places for adults. Another longstanding problem has been the inappropriate placing of mentally handicapped people in psychiatric hospitals. These often forgotten people have a right to services which are appropriate to their needs.

I believe it is better to make substantial progress in tackling areas of longstanding need in the health services, even if it means a modest increase in charges for certain hospital services, than to let the situation drift and to let the backlog that has built up over the last number of years go unchecked. I am sure anyone on a waiting list for a hip replacement operation who now has a realistic chance of having that operation done in the near future would prefer to pay an extra £5 a day as a public patient and be seen this year, than pay nothing, and stay on a waiting list for another couple of years. It is also important to point out that the cost of outpatient and inpatient care can be claimed against tax on the MED 1 form where unreimbursed medical expenses go over £50 for an individual or £100 for a couple in the tax year.

Deputy Mitchell discussed the issue of poverty traps. He seemed to be confused because at one point he was advocating more means testing, which creates poverty traps, and at another point he seemed to be castigating child benefit.

The increases in child benefit which will cost £50 million in a full year are an important way of directing help towards families. A study by Brian Nolan and Brian Farrell of Child Poverty in Ireland which was conducted for the Combat Poverty Agency stated:

Child benefit is the most direct and effective means of assisting all low-income [1750] families with children, irrespective of the source of their income, labour force status, or whether they are inside or outside the tax net. It also has the crucial property that unlike most other approaches it should not entail significant adverse effects on the incentive to work, and therefore acts to reduce rather than increase dependency.

The authors also point out that 93 per cent of families with children have income under £25,000 a year, so that very little of the expenditure under this heading could be regarded as going to families who do not need it.

Our system of child support has developed in a way which offers significantly less to parents in employment than to those who are out of work. This is one of the key areas which creates poverty traps. It is striking that 45 per cent of families with four or more children have parents who are out of work or on welfare. This structural defect in our child support system needs to be addressed. Increasing the level of child benefit is the key to child support system which is neutral as to the work status of the parents. This year's increase marks the first step on that road. It is an important element in tackling the poverty trap which has been identified by Deputy Mitchell. Child benefit has a key role in combating these poverty traps. Deputy Mitchell said at one stage that we were protecting the middle class, and then he thought we were protecting those on low incomes. He should make up his mind.

The focus of the budget changes has been on protecting people on the lowest incomes. The social welfare increases for those on the lowest rate are ahead of the rate of inflation. Together with the moves being taken to reverse a number of last year's welfare cuts, announced by the Minister for Social Welfare, and to restore the principle of social insurance as conferring entitlement to benefit, this marks a return to the principles of the Commission on Social Welfare, on which I was proud to serve.

There are tough decisions in this [1751] budget, we are living in tough times. However, we have taken care to protect those at the lowest end of the income spectrum, and half a million people at the lower end of that spectrum are exempt from this income levy. The income tax reliefs, unlike when the Progressive Democrats participated in Government, have been concentrated at the lower end of the income scale. Unlike Deputy Cox, I do not weep any tears over the tax clearance measure being introduced to ensure compliance with the existing provisions of the residential property tax. Those at the upper end of the income spectrum should pay the taxes they are legally obliged to pay.

I repeat the Tánaiste's comments this morning in relation to the Office of the Tánaiste and the myths about the £830,000 budget. The bulk of this budget is to pay staff who are redeployed from other sectors of the public service. Only three new staff members have been engaged. It continues a practice initiated and successfully operated by Dr. Garret FitzGerald when he was Taoiseach. The new members of staff are an economist, an accountant who leads the team, and a legal draftsperson. It is interesting to note, in the autobiography of the former Taoiseach, that Fine Gael was unable to implement its programme for government because of its own embargo on employing legal draftspeople. It is sensible to ensure that the Programme for Government is implemented and the new structures are there to secure that aim. After six weeks only a small element, although significant, of a four to five year programme has been implemented. We must ensure that the radical elements of the programme will be implemented.

It is important in the current uncertain international climate to provide a reasonable balance between spending for jobs and prudent management of the nation's finances. The budget provides for an Exchequer borrowing requirement of 2.9 per cent which should indicate to the markets the serious policy of this Government on prudent management of the finances and should help to establish [1752] favourable interest rates which are a key element in encouraging job creation and job growth. I commend this budget to the House.

Mr. Finucane:  I very much regret the announcement of lay-offs by Digital in Galway. I agree with Deputy Kemmy's recent statement that the Minister's action in relation to Digital constituted a fire brigade type of action. It must have come as no surprise to the Government that Digital had been experiencing difficulties over a period of time, that they were concentrating on large main frame computers at Galway and had changed their manufacturing emphasis in Ayr. I am very surprised that stronger remedial action was not taken by the Government long before now. When one considers the vacuum in politics due to the procrastination of Deputy Dick Spring, now Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, one can better appreciate those difficulties.

In his Budget Statement yesterday the Minister described it as a pro-jobs budget. Any analysis of the budget will reveal that it is not pro-jobs. It has been accepted that we are heading rapidly to an all-time record of 400,000 unemployed unless strong remedial action is taken.

I was highly amused during the recent currency crisis to note the criticism that emanated from Government circles of both the British Prime Minister and the German economy. We have a tendency to lash out at others in relation to problems which are often our own. I remember the Minister of State, Deputy Fitzgerald, in the course of a television programme describing the British economy as a sick economy. While I have no axe to grind in relation to the United Kingdom, interest rates there have been reduced to 6 per cent, and the Prime Minister has said it is his objective to reduce those rates to 3 per cent. They have mortgage rates of 8.5 per cent and 9 per cent while the rates here are excessive. If we want any evidence of our economic problems, such is immediately available in the prohibitive interest rates, [1753] deterring any potential employer from investing in jobs and farmers from investing in agricultural buildings. Until we rectify the interest rates we shall continue to experience serious unemployment problems. Neither the Taoiseach, nor Minister for Finance has referred, as did British Prime Minister, to any objective of reducing interest rates. Rather than criticise other economies we should examine the defects within our own. Over a period of four months during the currency crisis we appeared to have an exaggerated perception of the importance of our role within Europe, to such an extent that the Government contributed to the excessive mortgage rate increase of 3 per cent and further job losses. In relation to this budget the impetus intended to create jobs within the construction sector probably will not compensate for the loss of jobs during that currency crisis. We all know of clothing companies that went to the wall, being unable to compete with those in the British economy. This Government stands indicted on its procrastination in dealing with this issue, thereby creating many of our present problems. It is understandable that budgetary measures are taken, to help out those people holding mortgages, paying prohibitive interest charges. These people are in many cases the new poor of our society. We should remember that the Government created many of those people's problems. The budgetary palliative will not in any way compensate them for their loss of income resulting from such high interest rates.

I have observed enormous efforts by the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, and by the Minister of State at his Department, Deputy Fitzgerald, to justify the creation of his new office. We all know that Deputy Spring is engaged in a giant-sized ego exercise in relation to the role of Tánaiste; he is endeavouring to assume responsibilities never intended for that position within our Constitution. When viewed against the background of the Labour Party's preaching to us on ethics it demonstrates arrogance about ethics in Government on their part. I do not see [1754] any reason this should not be described as a Coalition Government, as in the past. Perhaps they are afraid of the taint of any coalition idea being attributed to their party.

It is public knowledge that £831,000 is being expended on the Tánaiste's office. One might well ask why should it be publicised. The answer is that there was no similar expenditure on that office in the past.

In regard to the recruitment of business consultants, economists, legal draftspersons, I know from having participated in the Special Committee on the Finance Bill of last year, that a whole battery of people are deployed on the Finance Act. I am sure there are economists and accountants within the Department of Finance. I wonder whether the Taoiseach intends moving existing personnel within that Department, or does he perceive the recruitment of outsiders as more jobs for the boys, more jobs for Labour supporters? When one thinks of a total of 135 jobs to date, at a cost of £3 million to the State, to support this Government one realises the degree of nepotism which is unparalleled in the history of the State. The main contributors are the Labour Party, who have not been slow in employing members of their own families. As a Deputy, one is entitled to one secretary. I will have my secretary based down the country but, even though my daughter is looking for a job, I would not resort to the type of nepotism practised on such a wide scale by this Government. With the enormous shortage of jobs within our economy, it is only right that other people be given opportunities. This is the Tammany Hall style politics the Labour Party have brought to this Government.

Were I to welcome one budgetary measure it would be the commitment to build 3,500 local authority houses. I have been a councillor for the past eight years and have experienced enormous frustration in relation to long local authority housing waiting lists. Why has there been such an increase in those waiting lists? Why is such frustration being experienced? During the four-year period between 1983 and 1987 approximately [1755] 11,500 local authority houses were built nationwide. Since then the building of local authority houses has been put on the back burner. In my own county 24 houses were built last year. We have a waiting list of about 350. We welcome the increase from 24 to 60, but I do not see it alleviating the backlog created. Nonetheless I welcome it, as a step in the right direction. Hopefully we will accelerate the building of local authority houses in the future thereby creating jobs into our economy.

I should like to have seen reconstruction grants reinstated even if in an amended way. Restrictions were imposed to ensure that such grants were allocated to people who deserved to be housed. Any rural Deputy knows of buildings around the country which have been vacated, in respect of which an extra £10,000 or £15,000 would do an excellent reconstruction job. Many younger people cannot afford a mortgage. A grant of £10,000 or £15,000 would give them a start in life; many of them are considered ineligible for local authority houses.

I could not understand the Taoiseach's logic in justifying the increase of VAT on concrete blocks and poured concrete from 10 per cent to 21 per cent. He maintained it would give legitimate builders an edge over rogue business people in the construction sector. I could not understand that logic because it will contribute to increased housing prices.

VAT increases which it is hoped will yield approximately £71 million have been imposed on newspapers and telecommunications. So much for the commitment to business people. We observe many other charges which will lead to increased costs generally. In the course of the present currency crisis many clothing and footwear companies went to the wall, especially clothing companies. Now we see an increase in VAT on clothing and footwear. Is the objective of that to create jobs? I do not think so.

The PAYE sector, the “pain after you earn”, people are now subjected to an extra penalty of a 1 per cent income levy. The Labour Party, as people who championed [1756] the working class and made a lot of play of their commitment to it in the last election, duped the public by their promises. Regarding what they were going to do for the working man and as agents of change in Irish politics. The Labour Party agree with a budget and with a prohibitive levy which will help to contribute further unemployment. Many people are caught in the poverty trap. The differential between working and not working is balanced in favour of the unemployed. People will ask why they should work in this environment which is so hostile to working. The 1 per cent levy is a punitive levy. It reminds me of the youth employment levy which was introduced in 1982. It was introduced as a temporary measure, but ten years further on we still have that levy. I have no doubt that it is the Government's intention to continue with this levy, which will have a destabilising effect on many people.

I forgot to say initially that I wanted to share some of my time with Deputy Deenihan.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Is that proposal agreed to? Agreed.

Mr. Finucane:  I am concerned about county enterprise boards. The objective of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company is to promote small industry and community development. Shannon Free Airport Development Company straddles three local authorities and one corporation and covers areas such as north Kerry and south Offaly. The county enterprise boards have been criticised by councillors because they see them as a contradiction. The Government is saying it wants to give more responsibilities to local authorities, yet local authorities are not strongly represented on these boards and within county councils these boards are seen as diminishing their role. My concern relates to the functions of the county enterprise boards and the possible duplication of functions of Shannon Free Airport Development Company.

I am also concerned about the lack of commitment to group water schemes. [1757] Within the Estimates £2.5 million is devoted to group water schemes. There is already an overrun on last year's capital allocation of £1.5 million. Every rural Deputy knows the importance of group water schemes. They generate jobs. Apart from Exchequer funding, there is a commitment on the part of the participants in group water schemes to provide some of their own funds. We have roughly 87 group water schemes throughout the country, including ten in my own county, and I am continually asking if the funding will be provided. The answer is almost always in the negative. I waited with great patience for the Estimates to see if finance was provided and I am bitterly disappointed. Out of that 87 group water schemes which are awaiting final approval and funding, 61 are entirely new schemes and the remaining 26 need an extra injection of cash. What will happen to those 61 group water schemes? The 87 water schemes cater for at least 4,000 members. What hope do I have in relation to the group water schemes in my own county? We expect one basic essential — good quality water. People have to put up with iron content in water and difficulties in relation to wells which become polluted and so on. What hope do I give them in relation to a water supply? I can give very little, from what I see within this budget and in these Estimates. I had hoped, when I saw the Cohesion Funding — this magical chunk of money which is due to materialise from the 1 April — that there might be some funding for providing this basic essential. It is an area which the Government will have to address urgently. I am sure they will be under pressure, not alone from Opposition Deputies but from their own Deputies in relation to group water schemes. Last year the commitment was £2 million but this year it is only £1 million. Something will have to be done.

This budget is very bland. Fianna Fáil had the difficulty of trying to accommodate Labour's wishes but they fell between two stools. The reaction to this budget is one of disappointment.

[1758]Mr. Deenihan:  I thank my colleague, Deputy Finucane, for sharing his time with me. We would all agree that the major problem is unemployment. It is the source of many of our social ills, including the breakdown of law and order, marriage breakdown, the increase in delinquency, ill health and so forth. This budget will do little to create employment. Indeed, many of its provisions will have a further negative effect on employment creation. The increase in PRSI ceilings for both employers and employees and the increase in VAT on building material, tourism and telecommunications will have an adverse effect on employment creation. The increase in VAT on newspapers, combined with the abolition of the cap on RTE advertising, could cost jobs in many of our provincial newspapers.

The budget lacks coherent economic strategy. It lacks the radical approach which the country is crying out for. It lacks the promised imagination and creative content that we expected from the Labour input. It reflects a lack of leadership and direction in Government.

The establishment of the county enterprise boards seems to be the only response to a worsening jobs crisis. The Minister provided £25 million in the budget to set up these new bureaucracies. This figure when divided will result in a figure of less than £1 million for each board. When the administrative structures are established, there will be very little left for enterprise creation and the developments leading to increased employment that the Minister referred to in his budget speech.

I am in favour of the concept of enterprise boards. However, I question the necessity for another layer of bureaucracy. It surely would have been possible to extend the present brief of the county development teams and to make them more representative of the areas they serve. The Government and especially the Labour Party have lost the moral authority to ask people to make extra sacrifices, when they have feathered their own nests first. They have given very lucrative positions to their families and [1759] friends as managers and special advisers. They have shot themselves in the foot and certainly this Coalition has lost its way already.

I welcome the provision of £20 million for the reduction of hospital waiting lists for hip replacements, cataract operations, ENT operations and heart bypasses. Unless beds are made available in our hospitals, these extra procedures will not be carried out. I would refer to the hidden agenda of this Government regarding health. The announcement on the eve of the budget of a 20 per cent increase in the charge for entry to hospitals will certainly push up the costs of private and semi-private beds. It will place a further burden on middle income taxpayers already hit by mortgage increases and with little relief on third level grants. There are few concessions to the hard pressed PRSI sector in terms of third level grants. The agricultural community is penalised to the extent of £20 million and the new 2 per cent inheritance tax will hit all farm families. The tax on disability benefit is a penal tax on sickness. These people are forced to leave jobs because of sickness. This Government has lost its way and this budget reflects a lack of decision and direction.

Mr. Power:  I wish to express my disgust at the treatment of some Members of this House yesterday. I asked last Tuesday that a copy of the Minister's speech be made available to all Members of the House, not just to Ministers and Ministers of State or to former Ministers. I have yet to hear a proper explanation for this practice which has been followed in this House for some time. Equality seems to be the buzz word around Leinster House recently but unfortunately it was forgotten yesterday. I cannot understand why all Members are not treated in the same manner. This is a ridiculous practice and one that must be changed for future years.

This year's budget has been presented a little later than usual due to the prolonged [1760] negotiations that took place in trying to form a Government. On the night the Taoiseach, Deputy Albert Reynolds, announced his Government I acknowledged the tremendous talent and potential among those selected but I said that if it was to work collective responsibility would be required not just in Cabinet but also among members of the Fianna Fáil and Labour parliamentary parties. The previous Government was threatened on many occassions by a certain member of the smaller party who was not even a Member of the House at the time.

Mr. Cullen:  He can answer for himself.

Mr. Power:  In any coalition — I make no apology for calling it a coalition because it consists of two parties — there is bound to be tension and difficulties. Compromises have to be made on a regular basis. Most parties tend to use their time in Opposition to formulate new policies, find faults with the Government performance and, more importantly, promise the electorate that they can do a better job. As soon as a party gets into Government it becomes abundantly clear that all the promises that were made cannot be lived up to. Responsibility becomes the order of the day.

Both Fianna Fáil and Labour faced serious difficulties in trying to put together their first budget. While there is an acceptance among the members of the Government parliamentary parties that tough decisions are necessary, unfortunately it became very obvious from the early days of this Government that one Member in particular was not prepared to accept collective responsibility — I refer to Deputy Jim Kemmy. Maybe he did not expect to be still wearing the track suit. I say to the Deputy, even though he is not present, “You ploughed a lone furrow for some time and maybe you are still adjusting to your new field”. This country needs a Government. It is not interested in personal grievances and if Deputy Kemmy is so unhappy with recent events, perhaps he would like to move to greener pastures. It is most [1761] unfortunate that this situation should arise, particularly in view of the commitment by both Fianna Fáil and Labour members to make the Government work.

This budget was formulated in a very difficult period, just a few weeks after the currency devaluation at a time when the number of people unemployed has exceeded 300,000. The Minister explained yesterday that he was trying to strike a careful balance. On one hand he did not want to jeopardise the financial discipline we have achieved which is so vital for investment in the future and at the same time he had to stimulate the economy with a view to creating employment. More has been written in the run up to this budget than any other budget. Reports were published to the effect that this was going to be the toughest budget to date. Major increases in taxation were predicted, and anyone who smokes or drinks will have had a few sleepless nights over the last week. Despite the predictions and the major difficulties confronting the Minister he struck a good balance. I am sure the majority of people were pleasantly surprised at the Minister's proposals.

The improvements and changes in social welfare reflect the caring attitude of the Government. An additional £8 million will be provided for people with a mental handicap. This money will create extra residential and day care places and emergency and respite care. The needs of people with a mental handicap and of those who look after them have never been fully appreciated or understood. For that reason the Minister's initiatives are very welcome. They will provide much comfort and help to hundreds of very deserving cases throughout the country.

I would like to deal at some length with the changes in regard to tobacco products. Yesterday the Minister announced a proposal to increase tax on cigarettes by 10p per packet of 20. Last year tax on cigarettes was increased. One reason that has been continually given for these increases relates to the health aspect. The Government acknowledged this fact some years ago when an order [1762] was made making it compulsory for all packets of cigarettes to carry a Government health warning. There has been great emphasis on health education, aimed particularly at young people, and legislation has been passed banning smoking in certain areas. Collectively all of these changes and initiatives have created an awareness of the serious health hazards not just for smokers but for people who work and live in a smoking environment.

Depite these efforts more and more young people are starting to smoke. The time has come for the Government to make illegal the advertising of tobacco. The case against tobacco is easy to make. Statistics show that each year in Britain, 111,000 people die from smoking — 26,000 from lung cancer and 85,000 from other tobacco-related diseases. Smoking is by far the greatest public health hazard facing this country. Unlike other industries the tobacco industry faces a serious problem, with thousands of their customers dying each year and the industry must set about recuiting new smokers to take the place of those who have died. This campaign takes place by way of advertising.

The majority of smokers begin the practice while in their teens and for that reason tobacco advertising is directed at young people. As a result this is the only age group in which the number of smokers in Ireland is not falling. A ban on tobacco advertising would be strenuously opposed by the industry. In Britain more than £100 million is spent annually on tobacco advertising and the argument put forward is that they are simply promoting brand switching. As everyone knows, it is impossible to persuade a person to change brands if you have not already persuaded them to start smoking.

It would be a courageous move by the Government to ban tobacco advertising. This is something that must be done. A ban has been imposed in many countries, with very positive results. In New Zealand an advertising ban succeeded in reducing tobacco consumption by 7.5 per cent; in Canada the reduction was 6 per [1763] cent; in Finland, 7 per cent and in Norway, 8 per cent.

It is often argued that a ban on tobacco advertising would result in a huge revenue loss to the Exchequer. While it would not be difficult to calculate what the loss would be, it would be impossible to calculate the damage smoking causes to people's health and the cost to the Exchequer in paying for patients' hospitalisation due to tobacco-related illness. How many people are absent from their work place today due to tobacco-related illnesses and what is the cost to industry? I am not in a position to give the answer but I am sure that the cost is enormous. I emphasise that I do not want smoking to be banned.

Mr. Cullen:  Thank you very much for that.

Mr. Power:  As the Deputy is getting ready for an international, I hope he is not smoking. People must choose for themselves whether they want to smoke, but it must be recognised that in some cases the public interest is more important than freedom of choice.

This country has a long history of smoking. For that reason it has become very difficult to change people's thinking. I venture to say that if cigarettes were invented today, it is likely their production and sale would be banned. I repeat that I am not suggesting that smoking should be banned. This is a freedom of choice issue: to do good or evil, that is the question. Can anyone say that tobacco advertising is in the best interests of our people?

Tobacco is a most peculiar product. Even when it is used in moderation it kills. It kills and damages the health of not just the person who uses it but also those who live and work in a smoke filled environment. These stark realities cannot be ignored and I demand an immediate response from the Government. I call on the Minister to bring forward the necessary legislation to ban tobacco advertising.

There has been much debate during [1764] the last 24 hours as to whether this budget is pro-jobs. I listened to the contributions of a number of Opposition speakers yesterday and again this morning. While I did not expect them to throw bouquets over to this side of the House, I did expect them to offer some constructive criticism. In the majority of cases speakers were very selective. We all realise the problems and the difficulties politicians face and that they lack credibility with the public, but we can change that. I admit we did the same when in Opposition but I would like to see Members on all sides of the House adopt a different approach——

Mr. Cullen:  I am glad the Deputy said that.

Mr. Power:  ——whereby they would offer constructive criticism rather than make negative contributions which are difficult to listen to. This would require maturity on the part of politicians but it is necessary that we see such a change in this House. When we talk about reform we should look at ourselves first.

The increase in capital spending will provide a major boost to the economy and in particular to the construction industry which everyone recognises has been on its knees for some time. We need a vibrant construction industry if we are to reduce the unemployment figures. When the agriculture and construction industries are booming the rest of the country also seems to prosper. I am delighted that emphasis is being placed on the need to create a vibrant construction industry and to give it a helping hand that has been missing for various reasons over the last few years.

The Government, which has only been in office for a few weeks, acknowledges that it faces a major task in curtailing unemployment. The proposals made and the initiatives announced yesterday will have a beneficial effect in the not too distance future.

For home owners the increase in interest rates was a major blow which has swallowed up their disposal income. Indeed many have been unable to meet [1765] the increase. A reduction in interest rates would be of help in increasing employment. The financial discipline the Minister adhered to in the budget should make that a reality in the not too distant future. In relation to mortgage interest relief, the commitment made prior to the budget has not been honoured in full but the Government has adopted a caring approach and accepts that many families are experiencing difficulties and hardship. It has made a serious attempt to rectify the matter.

I want to comment briefly on the banks. During the past six to 12 months many small businesses which had been thriving, which have succeeded in employing thousands of workers and which we take for granted, have found the going tough due to circumstances outside their control. Unfortunately, the banks have not been willing to facilitate them during this difficult period. They are not giving them the money they need. I regard this problem as being short term but unless they are offered assistance to cushion the blow many of these businesses will find themselves in serious trouble due to the increase in interest rates. I call on the banks to adopt a more caring and compassionate approach in dealing with small businesses.

A committee on employment has been set up to consider policies that would lead to a reduction in unemployment. Over 300,000 people are unemployed at present. This is a marvellous resource but we are paying people to do nothing. Unlike others, I have no difficulty in accepting that the majority of the unemployed want to work and there is much work to be done. We must devise schemes in the near future to create jobs for these people so that they will have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. This would provide the country with a tremendous boost and I do not think it would be impossible to devise such schemes. I would like to see the new Minister for Enterprise and Employment bring forward proposals in that regard because it is unacceptable in such a small nation that there are 300,000 people unemployed. As I said, this is our greatest [1766] resource. We must channel their energy and talents to give them back their pride and a reason to get up in the morning.

I welcome the increase in the carer's allowance from £53 to £59. While the allowance is a recognition of the tremendous work being carried out by carers at home, the conditions attached make it impossible for many deserving people to qualify for it. The conditions should be broadened to allow more people to take up that allowance.

I compliment the Minister on his second budget. It was expected by many political commentators to be the toughest budget to come before the House. When the Minister presented his first budget he was under different pressures at that time for various reasons. He had more time to put his budget together on this occasion and did a good job. We have heard much criticism from the Opposition benches, but this Government is in place only a few weeks. It deserves a chance. It is in the interests of the country that we have a good Government to pursue the proper policies. I ask the Opposition to judge the Government by its performance.

Mr. Cullen:  It is somewhat ironic, after a budget which is purporting to be a pro-jobs budget, that this is our blackest and one of the most devastating days, in terms of job losses, with the announcement by Digital in Galway this morning. People should bear in mind that while we speak of 800 jobs there, the value of those jobs is more than double the value of the average job that could be lost. People have lost their incomes and the disposable income which went into the local economy in Galway will be lost with a far greater impact than stacking up the value of a number of individual average industrial jobs. Digital was one of our flagship companies with a tremendously committed workforce. Because of their productivity and ability they earned a very high income. The trauma that will occur as a result of lost income to those people and their families will be great over the coming months. There is a question as to the impact on mortgages, homes, and the [1767] future for their children. That is very serious, not to mention the loss of the manufacturing end, and there is a question mark over the existence of the ancillary service industries, the small industries in the Gaeltacht areas and centred around Galway that were dependent upon Digital.

We know that the cost structures in that plant were excellent. We know that industrial relations were excellent, even to the extent that the workforce offered to take wage cuts. We know that their productivity was excellent. We know that production capacity was way ahead of the Ayr plant and was far more sophisticated and modern than the Ayr plant. I would surmise that all of these factors would negate any extra transport cost that would be incurred in moving goods from this country to the UK.

What was the other reason this decision was taken? One can only look to very serious political interference in the decision-making process of this company, pressurised by the British Government at the highest level. For me, somebody who has always been a committed European, what happened in Digital tears up the underlying unifying force of Europe, which was to strengthen the regions of Europe so that Europe can be a truly unified single economic entity. That concept has been torn up by a more powerful economy than the Irish economy. That poses very serious questions for the continuing development of Europe in a cohesive way. Regional strengthening and EC cohesion has been undermined by what has happened. It behoves the Taoiseach at the next Heads of Government meeting to bring to the table as a matter of urgency the question with which we are now faced in the country of creating a balanced single market in Europe which takes special regard of the need to strengthen the regions. That must be done and I urge the Taoiseach to do so.

When we heard of the prospects of the Labour and Fianna Fáil parties forming a Government in the latter part of 1992, the words which kept recurring on all [1768] occasions were, “This will be a radical Government, particularly in tackling the national jobs crisis.” That was the consistent message. Because of the message one made allowances for what I could only call the elephantine gestation period before the Government's ultimate formation. What have we got? They have been radical in what they have said because they have disregarded Telesis, Culliton, NESC, and every independent commentator over the last decade as to what it will take to create jobs. Last evening the Taoiseach said that he did not understand the efforts of the last few years. He did not adhere to the policy of tax reduction and incentives for people to go back to work and in particular the policy of creating an environment where productivity could be enhanced, coupled with the ability to earn more income, thereby engendering more disposable income which could be spent in the local and national economy and create jobs. This has all been torn up, and ignored by this Government.

The Minister in his speech said that the budget is framed on the principle that the over-riding national priority is jobs. I could not agree more. He said that we have to do whatever is required to raise the pace of sustainable employment growth, both short term and long term. I agree with that. He also said that we have to have policies that promote and underpin genuine economic progress and that those of us who have jobs must put the need to create jobs above our personal interests. He goes on to say that there is no greater inequity than joblessness.

The budget speech yesterday began on a very interesting note. The Minister could have effectively left the House after the initial part of his speech, because he had nothing else to contribute to create an environment whereby jobs would be created and existing jobs sustained and enhanced. What we got was a contribution by the Minister for Finance to ensuring that existing jobs will be under threat and the prospects for creating new jobs have been further diminished. It is an interesting paradox that the Minister [1769] expects GDP growth to be of the order of 2.5 per cent this year. The Minister is over optimistic because his budget strategy was not consistent with bringing about that sort of growth in the domestic economy this year. That figure is over optimistic when considered in parallel with the policies the Minister enunciated yesterday.

Debate adjourned.

  1.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he has satisfied himself with the current proposal in relation to carcase weight limits for steers into beef intervention; and the steps, if any, he is taking to have them raised in view of the effect this will have on the intake of Irish cattle into intervention in future years.

  170.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Foresty    if he has any estimates of the effect that the proposed lowering of the carcase weight limit for beef intervention will have on Ireland; and in particular, the likely number of cattle which will not have access to intervention in future.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 170 together.

In December 1992, the EC Commission decided to exclude carcases in excess of 340 kg from intervention with effect from 1 January 1993. Following opposition by Ireland and other member states, the commission decided to postpone the operative date to 1 March 1993. I met the new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development on 8 January 1993 and impressed upon him the special difficulties such a weight limit would have on the Irish beef sector. On 15 January 1993, the Commission proposed a modification of their previous [1770] decision which would phase in the 340 kg weight limit as follows:

— a limit of 380 kg on 1 July 1993

—a limit of 360 kg on 1 January 1994

—a limit of 340 kg on 1 July 1994

Based on intervention in-take in 1992, a limit of 340 kg would exclude from intervention over 60 per cent of Irish steers at present eligible for intervention.

I am maintaining my strenuous opposition to the weight limitation and am seeking to have the measure replaced by one which could achieve the objective of reducing intervention in-take in accordance with the Council's decision of June 1992 in a manner that would be equitable as between member states.

Mr. Yates:  Would the Minister agree that for the next three years, given the breeds of cattle already on farms, the minimum carcase weight for cattle, will be 400 kg as a minimum? Would the Minister give a commitment to this House that at the next Council of Ministers meeting he will make every effort to ensure that a weight limit of 400 kg will be kept in place for the next three years, so that if we are to have a change in breeding patterns it will be given some time to have an effect?

Mr. J. Walsh:  I accept what Deputy Yates said in relation to the weight limit of 400 kg. Since 1988, the breeding programmes of AI stations and breeders generally have gone substantially for continental breeds and a weight limitation of less than 400 kg would impact disproportionately on Ireland. Deputy Yates and the House can have my undertaking that I will seek to protect the best interests of the Irish beef industry.

[1771]

  2.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals if any, he intends submitting to the EC Commission and Council of Ministers in view of the special arrangements which Italy secured in relation to its milk quota, in order to ensure similar treatment for Ireland.

  29.  Mr. J. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the progress, if any, he has made in seeking an additional milk quota for Ireland or at least preventing a reduction in our existing quota in view of the commitments given at the time of the introduction of the super levy and the increases recently allowed to Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Mr. J. Walsh:  A final decision has not yet been taken by the Council of Ministers on either the Italian or Spanish milk quota questions. There are no specific issues in relation to Portugal's milk quota before the Council.

Mr. Yates:  Is the Minister aware that when the milk quota was introduced in 1984, it was part of the textual agreement that if there was any additional milk quota Ireland would get it? How can the Minister explain, when Ireland has had a 12.5 per cent cut in its milk quota since 1984, that it now looks likely that the Italians will get an extra 200 million gallons? Will the Minister oppose this and explain how the Italian Minister seems in line to get something but we cannot when we are facing a super levy bill this year of perhaps £17 million.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I am aware of the Protocol in 1983 when we got our original base quota. I have quoted it several times in the past year, at both Council of Ministers meetings and at bilateral meetings. It appears that unless one gets the actual regulation of any addendum or Protocol it has no legal effect. At the same time there is a moral obligation to appreciate that the dairy industry is a vital part of our agricultural and overall economy in Ireland. I want to make it clear that there will be no question of agreeing to any resolution of the Italian milk quota problem without ensuring that Italy pays up for ignoring the milk quota since it was introduced and that they will reduce their [1772] milk production. It would be quite unfair to expect the Irish industry to allow a member state that flouted the rules of the quota regime to get off scot free while we who have been adhering to the rules have been penalised as a result. The question of the Italian milk quota is up for consideration and with that a whole lot of matters relating to the milk regime, including the 4.5 per cent suspended quota, the proposed 1 per cent cut in quota this year, and a restructuring scheme for small farmers. All that will have to be taken together in any consideration of the Italian question.

Mr. Yates:  Does the Minister not see the developments in relation to Spain and Italy as an ideal opportunity to get this proposed permanent cessation of this 4.5 per cent of the national quota reflected differently for Ireland because of our unique dependence on this section? The sop to Italy and Spain will, in my view, be agreed. Will the Minister make a special case that this 4.5 per cent would not go ahead for Ireland?

Mr. J. Walsh:  Yes. I will undertake that in any consideration of the milk quota regime throughout the Community our special situation regarding the 4.5 per cent, the proposed 1 per cent cut, the restructuring scheme and support for the new milk hygiene regulations, and our special position which was given in writing in the original Protocol will be taken into account.

  3.  Mr. Molloy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the national cereal area determined by the 1991 census of agricultural production, and if this figure will be used to determine the national base area, which is critical to deciding the amount of set-aside for cereals crops under EC rules in future years.

[1773]

  196.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the statistical base which will be used to establish Ireland's national cereal quota in terms of acreage; and if he has satisfied himself that this accurately reflects current production levels.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 and 196 together.

The national base area, for the purpose of compensatory payments under the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, is the average of the areas under cereals, oilseeds, protein crops and the set-aside in 1989, 1990 and 1991. The national cereals area determined by the 1991 census of agriculture, carried out by the CSO, was 301,500 hectares (740,000 acres).

The CSO census was conducted in accordance with the Statistics (Census of Agriculture) Order 1991 (S.I. No. 126 of 1991). The full implications of the census figures for the national base area will not be known until adjusted figures for 1989 and 1990 are submitted by the CSO to EUROSTAT.

Mr. Molloy:  Has there been an underestimation of about 30,000 hectares in determining the national base area and, if so, could the Minister tell the House what the cost to Irish farmers of that mistake will be?

Mr. J. Walsh:  In July-August 1992 Ireland, together with other member states, submitted data to the Commission concerning base areas. This data, as required by regulation, is based on historical information submitted by the CSO to the European Statistics Office. In respect of 1991, the figure included in the base area for cereals was 333,300 hectares. In June 1991 the CSO carried out a full agricultural census for the period since 1980. The preliminary results of this census were published on 18 December 1992. The statistics showed that the base area for cereals was 301,500 hectares, as against 333,300 in the original submission. This represented a drop of 10.5 per cent of the previous estimate for 1991, which was based on the June enumeration sample for that year. I wish [1774] to point out that the CSO is obliged to furnish EUROSTAT with the revised figures in respect of the cereals area and it may have to revise the figures submitted for previous years, including 1989 and 1990 which are also used to calculate the base area. The full implications of the census figures for the national base area will not, therefore, be known until the adjusted figures for the three years 1989, 1990 and 1991 are submitted to EUROSTAT.

Mr. Molloy:  Would the Minister agree that if this matter is not corrected to Ireland's advantage there will be a huge cost to the farmers involved? Can the Minister give an assurance that he is satisfied at this stage that he can take action to ensure Irish farmers are not to be penalised because of the change in the base area?

Mr. J. Walsh:  This is an extremely serious development. We have lost, overnight, 10.5 per cent of our base area, and this could penalise cereal farmers. I am aware of this possibility and I have been in contact with the cereals section in the Department. We are engaged in discussions with the European Commission about the matter. I will do everything possible to ensure that Irish cereal farmers are not penalised because of what seems to be an error in the figure. No definite decision can be taken until the average for the three years is made known to EUROSTAT.

Mr. Molloy:  What alternative measures is the Minister proposing to correct this drastic mistake?

Mr. J. Walsh:  I have asked the CSO to review the calculation in the context of the three years. The CSO has given us figures for 1991 and I have asked it to get the figures — which it is entitled to do under the regulation — for 1989 and 1990 also.

[1775]

  4.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if the draft EC price proposals for 1993/94 are acceptable to him; and, if not, the proposals he intends to table to ensure that farm incomes are protected.

Mr. J. Walsh:  The Commission's proposals on farm prices and related measures for 1993/94 were formally presented to the Council of Ministers on 10 February 1993. By and large the proposals represent confirmation of the first stage of the Common Agricultural Policy reform arrangements for those products covered by reform and are largely a roll over of existing arrangements for other products. A detailed examination of the proposals is being carried out at present in my Department.

The proposals are due to be discussed again in the Council of Ministers on 16-17 March. The Deputy can be assured that I will take all the necessary measures in the course of negotiations to ensure that the interests of Irish farmers are protected.

Mr. Finucane:  There will be no St. Patrick's Day parade for the Minister.

Mr. Yates:  I am sure the Minister will find some parade to attend in Brussels. Will the Minister confirm that what is basically proposed here is a price freeze and that this is particularly unacceptable for the sheep and pigmeat sectors which, despite the general increase in incomes, have experienced a severe drop in incomes in 1992? Will the Minister clarify the position in relation to pigmeat? I have seen reports which state that the Commission is proposing a 25 per cent cut in the base price for pigmeat at a time when prices are at their lowest level for 12 years?

Mr. J. Walsh:  We have only been presented with proposals at this stage, and they are at the preliminary discussion level, the first stage. I will be using the price negotiations to rectify a number of matters of concern to Ireland. We have already spoken about beef and the intervention weight limitation. Deputy Yates [1776] referred specifically to the position in regard to sheepmeat, about which I have been made aware over the last number of months. I have sought to improve the situation somewhat and an additional £56 million will be sent out to sheep farmers during the next few weeks. I will be using the occasion of the Council of Ministers' meeting to highlight the fact that prices in the European Community have not converged and that we are being unduly penalised as a member state.

Deputy Yates also referred to pigmeat. A reduction of approximately 25 per cent in the base price of pigmeat is proposed. I will be seeking a modification of that figure because even though the market for pigmeat was good during the earlier part of last year it became quite depressed towards the end of the year; a very poor year for pigmeat.

Mr. Yates:  I ask the Minister to have special regard to the sheep and pigmeat sectors because the overall income figures mask the fact that those sectors are going through an exceptionally difficult period. As I understand it, last year farmers made a profit of £8 per pig but are now incurring a loss of £7 per pig. These proposals on the guide price for sheep and the base price for pigmeat are unacceptable. Will the Minister bring that view forward on behalf of Irish producers at the appropriate Council of Minister's meeting?

Mr. J. Walsh:  Yes. With regard to pigmeat, we have modernised the processing end of the industry and the marketing aspect has been taken up by CBF. Towards the end of last year, producers suffered a drop in price. As the Deputy said, producers lost approximately £8 on each pig. I will take that very much into consideration. Last year was a difficult year for sheep farmers but, unlike pig farmers, they got very substantial headage and premia payments. In the full year, 50,000 sheep farmers got £152 million in direct payments, which is not an insubstantial amount of direct aid. Indeed, if other sectors or Departments got that kind of annual payment they [1777] would consider themselves to be quite well off. I have contacted CBF, who have opened up valuable markets in Spain and Portugal. I hope that not only will the income from headage and premia be maintained for the year, but that the market for sheep will improve.

  5.  Mr. T. Foxe    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the total amount of grants under the farm improvement scheme outstanding to farmers in Counties Roscommon and Longford, on 31 December, 1992 and 31 January, 1993; and the total number of farmers involved in each case.

Mr. J. Walsh:  On 31 December 1992, there were 27 grants due to 20 farmers in County Roscommon amounting to £79,470 and seven grants due to six farmers in County Longford, amounting to £24,887.

On 31 January 1993, there were 22 grants due to 19 farmers amounting to £43,762 in County Roscommon while a further nine grants were due to seven farmers in County Longford amounting to £28,126.

Forty grants totalling £111,380 have been paid in County Roscommon and 11 grants totalling £44,921 have been paid in County Longford already this year.

Mr. T. Foxe:  When will the outstanding grants be paid?

Mr. Yates:  The election is over.

Mr. J. Walsh:  We have a well-known formula — as soon as possible.

  6.  Mr. Shatter    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will introduce legislation to ban live hare coursing.

[1778]

  24.  Mr. Sargent    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    his views on the substantial amount of anticoursing mail from the US which has been forwarded to his Department and whether he intends to pass this mail on to the Minister for Tourism and Trade to draw the Minister's attention to the situation.

  43.  Mr. Gilmore    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will amend the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1965, with the view to removing the exemption on hare coursing, thereby making hare coursing illegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  59.  Mr. Gregory    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will have live hare coursing replaced by drag coursing, as practised in Canada, Germany and Australia, which does not involve the use of a live hare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  59.  Mr. Gregory    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the if he will number of items of mail from abroad he has received within the past 12 months protesting against the operation of live hare coursing, either directly or through other parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  219.  Miss Harney    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the plans, if any, he has to amend the Greyhound Industries Act, 1958 in so far as it applies to live hare coursing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 24, 43, 59, 218 and 219 together.

I am at present reviewing in a comprehensive way the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958. As part of that review I am also considering the question of hare coursing. I would hope to have proposals for Government arising out of that review at an early date. In making those proposals I will have regard to the many suggestions made here and by various interested bodies and, of course, to trade and tourism considerations.

[1779] I have received somewhat in excess of 2,000 representations, mostly from the USA, either directly or indirectly within the past 12 months. The contents of this mail has been noted and the points raised will also be taken into account as part of the review.

Mr. Shatter:  Would the Minister agree that hare coursing is a barbaric and cruel activity and would he acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of people would like to see live hare coursing banned? Would he agree also that the recent hare coursing meeting in Cloonana which resulted in 51 hares being torn to shreds and killed was a particularly horrific example of an activity that is unacceptable? Will the Minister indicate whether he agrees with the views expressed by Deputy Kemmy and others that it is a sickening sport and that it should be banned? Is it his intention under the new legislation once and for all to ban hare coursing?

Mr. J. Walsh:  There are a number of points arising from Deputy Shatter's question. First, I want to declare my interests. I follow a number of sports both here and in other countries but I am not a follower of here coursing. I have to listen to all sides of the case regarding hare coursing and while the Department received more than 2,000 representations from outside the country in relation to hare coursing, we got less than 50 from within Ireland in relation to the matter.

Mr. Cox:  The Minister will be flooded now.

Dr. Bhamjee:  What about fox hunting?

Mr. J. Walsh:  In June 1992 the Joint Oireachtas Committee on State-sponsored Bodies which represents all parties in this House considered a report on coursing and the greyhound industry generally and did not recommend a ban on hare coursing. There are different points of view in relation to the matter.

[1780]Mr. Yates:  What is the Minister's point of view?

Mr. J. Walsh:  At the outset I stated that I am not a follower of hare coursing. The Cloonana and Clonmel incidents were a disgrace and totally unacceptable. Nobody, whether they are for or against hare coursing, could justify the slaughter of that number of hares at two coursing meetings. I would condemn that in a most forthright manner. An assistant secretary in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry chairs a group of people representing the Department, Bord na gCon and the industry generally who will report to me in the near future. Having considered all the matters raised here the representations made to the Department and, in particular, the recommendations of that group, I will submit a proposal to Government.

Mr. Sargent:  I, too, am extremely anxious to have this problem resolved; it is a political football being thrown back and forth. It seems to be shrouded in uncertainty. On the basis of the meeting in Cloonana and the image that portrays of us at a time when we are so dependent on overseas interests — Digital and our important tourism sector might be referred to in this regard — it is vital to bear in mind——

An Ceann Comhairle:  I want to facilitate the Deputy in eliciting information, but he must proceed by way of brief relevant questions.

Mr. Sargent:  I will finish my question. I simply want to ask the Minister if he regards that incident as the last straw, so to speak? Will he introduce legislation forthwith and make a welcome decision for the 81 per cent of the people who wish to see hare coursing banned?

Mr. J. Walsh:  I have already said that what happened at Cloonana and Clonmel was unacceptable. The matter of legislation is quite complex. The Greyhound [1781] Industry Act, 1958, the Protection of Animals Acts, 1911 and 1965, and the Wildlife Act, 1976, would have to be considered in relation to this matter. On receipt of a report from the group investigating the matter I will submit proposals to the Government.

Mr. Gregory:  I welcome the Minister's sympathetic comments. I hope he follows through on what he has said. If the Minister accepts that live hare coursing inflicts extreme suffering on timid and defenceless animals and that there can be no justification whatever for such cruelty, will he accept that it is time to stop this cruelty? In view of what he said about the weekend meeting at Cloonana where 51 hares died, will he prevent any further unacceptable suffering by suspending all further coursing meetings pending the review which he has announced?

Mr. J. Walsh:  I have made my views known on what happened at the two meetings. In relation to coursing generally, I do not know if it is true that 81 per cent of the people want to terminate it because a substantial number of people in rural Ireland go coursing and enjoy this type of activity.

Mr. Sargent:  I can show the Minister the facts stated in an independent survey.

Mr. J. Walsh:  In a democracy I have to take all points of view into account in preparing legislation, but there is no doubt that the kind of activity that we know happened in Cloonana and Clonmel should not be repeated.

Mr. Gregory:  The Minister could put a stop to it by suspending further meetings.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister should stay on the fence.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I hope the matter will not stay that way for too long. I hope within a matter of weeks to receive a report and to prepare a memorandum for [1782] Government on the greyhound industry.

I am concerned about the greyhound industry. Most of our greyhound tracks are losing money, attendance levels are decreasing, as is the value of the greyhound industry for tourism. Even the export of greyhounds is in a shambles. Part of the industry needs reform and can be recovered. I am examining the entire industry, which badly needs a shake up.

Mr. Shatter:  Would the Minister agree that the report to which he refers makes it clear that the greyhound industry is in no way dependent on the continuation of coursing meetings? It was suggested that there is an interdependence, but there is not. Will the Minister agree that there is not? Will he indicate if he agrees that what took place at Cloonana and Clonmel is unacceptable? Will he indicate whether an investigation into those two things is taking place either in his Department or the Office of Public Works with a view to instituting prosecutions against those responsible under the Wildlife Act? Previous investigations of meetings where a large number of hares were killed established that the hares were coursed contrary to statutory regulations in force. Will the Minister indicate what action the Government has taken with regard to the unacceptable number of hares killed at those meetings? Finally, is the Minister aware that a survey carried out by an independent body some years ago showed that 81 per cent of people favoured banning hare coursing? Will he agree that hare coursing is just as cruel a sport as badger baiting, which is now outlawed?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The longer we dwell at any question must be to the detriment of other questions. I am anxious to move on to other questions. I am sure the House will agree that the disposal of six questions within half an hour is most unsatisfactory from any stand point. I want to bring this question to finality.

[1783]Mr. J. Walsh:  I should like to take the opportunity to bring this question to finality if I may. I was asked a specific question as to whether an inquiry has been or is taking place. Bord na gCon have advised that the executive committee of the Irish Coursing Club has initiated a wideranging and urgent fullscale inquiry into all aspects of the running of the meeting in question by the County Limerick Coursing Club. This investigation has already commenced and will extend to the summoning of the committee and officers of the club before the Irish Coursing Club. The Irish Coursing Club has confirmed that its inquiry will address such issues as the causes of the high mortality rate; whether the advertised programme of events should have been curtailed in the circumstances; the care, management, feeding, training and husbandry of the hare stock; the precoursing veterinary attention to the hare stock; to what extent, if any, the rules of the Irish Coursing Club and the licence held by it were breached, and whether major changes are required in the structure of the County Limerick Coursing Club as administrators of future Irish Cup meetings.

Mr. Shatter:  What about a Government investigation under the Wildlife Act, 1976? The Minister has statutory powers under that Act.

  7.  Mr. R. Bruton    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the financial performance of the Dublin District Milk Board for each of the years from 1989 to 1992.

Mr. J. Walsh:  During the three years 1989, 1990 and 1991 the Dublin District Milk Board incurred losses of £28,189, £189,980 and £190,546 respectively. Audited accounts are not yet available for 1992.

Mr. Yates:  Would the Minister share my concern in relation to the financial performance of the Dublin District Milk [1784] Board and will he confirm that the regulations and the structure of the board are in breach of EC regulations and that a national milk agency should be established without delay? Given that this was promised when the Minister was first appointed and promised by his predecessor, what is the reason for this delay? Will he now act on the matter?

Mr. J. Walsh:  Yes, I am concerned about this matter. There is a further question on the establishment of a national milk agency on the agenda and I will deal more fully with the matter then. Obviously when figures go from £28,000 to £189,000 to £190,000 over three consecutive years, that is a cause for concern. I will be glad to answer Deputy Yates's question in more detail when replying to the other question.

Mr. Yates:  I understand the Minister's Department is conducting negotiations with staff representatives of the Dublin District Milk Board. Would he outline at what stage these negotiations are and whether they are coming to finality?

Mr. J. Walsh:  I introduced this legislation in the Seanad some considerable time ago, where Second Stage was passed. Discussions have been taking place for some time with the staff and the unions to find a resolution to the problem. I concur with that action. My latest information is that the last meeting took place at the end of January and a final meeting is to take place within the next three weeks to finalise that matter in relation to the staff. We can then proceed with the legislation.

  8.  Mr. Barry    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    his views on the published study by the IFA that Cork farmers stand to lose over £71 million because of the GATT world trade deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[1785]

  45.  Mr. Barry    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    his views on the study (details supplied) carried out by the IFA which stated that Cork beef and sugar beet farmers now face estimated losses of between 15 per cent and 30 per cent as a result of the GATT agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  129.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the position in relation to the GATT negotiations; whether Ireland will support the deal as it presently stands; and if not if he will give details of the modifications we are seeking.

  143.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if the American market will have to admit up to 5 per cent of dairy imports under the proposed GATT deal.

  145.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    whether pig meat imports into the EC will have to rise to 5 per cent of market share under the GATT deal as currently structured.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 45, 129, 143 and 145 together.

The first thing that must be said is that there has been no GATT agreement yet. The agriculture deal referred to is a draft deal negotiated between the Commission and the US negotiators. It has still to be accepted by the Council of Ministers, the US Congress and the other parties in the GATT. There are 14 other topics in the overall GATT negotiations some of which, for example services and market access, are proving equally difficult to finalise. The question of acceptance or rejection of a GATT deal will not arise therefore until an overall agreement covering all sector areas has been finalised.

My Department has carried out a preliminary analysis of the proposed deal on agriculture having regard to the Commission assessment of its compatibility with Common Agricultural Policy reform. However, there was a clear need [1786] for the Commission to provide a more detailed explanation of the agreement and to have it evaluated at Community level. Accordingly, I sought and obtained a commitment at the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in January that the deal would be fully evaluated by the Special Agriculture Committee, so as to ascertain its compatibility with the reformed Common Agricultural Policy. This evaluation has now been embarked on and a report will be made to the Council in due course.

My initial analysis of the draft agreement is that, while it contains improvements in relation to the Dunkel framework — for example the exemption of Common Agricultural Policy reform and disadvantaged areas payments from GATT restrictions — there are other areas where I believe the undertakings proposed would require the Community to go beyond that which would flow automatically from the Common Agricultural Policy reform decisions of last May. I am particularly concerned that the proposed 21 per cent volume reduction on subsidised exports which, when taken together with market access arrangements, could result in the Community having to reduce its beef exports well beyond what the Common Agricultural Policy reform measures would have required. Similar problems, but to a lesser degree, would also arise in the dairy sector particularly in relation to cheese exports and in the whitemeat sector. The problem is exacerbated by the requirement that exports would have to fall back to the average of 1986-88 exports in the first year of implementation.

Mr. Yates:  In fairness to the Minister, we had a lengthy debate last week in Private Members' time on this. Matters are to be deferred until after the French general election. Following that, will the Commission come forward with a deal more or less as it is now? In view of the threat to the beef sector and the dairy sector, would the Minister be prepared to use the veto to protect our vital national interests?

[1787]Mr. J. Walsh:  If the proposals remain in their present form, yes, but I do not expect them to do so. They are only in draft form at present. My energy will be used to obtain modifications and to ensure that the final deal which has to be approved by the Council of Ministers will be compatible with the Common Agricultural Policy reforms. I have said repeatedly both in this House and in the Council of Ministers that the proposals as they stand are incompatible with the Common Agricultural Policy reform and are unacceptable.

Mr. Cox:  Would the Minister not accept that the Commission, on behalf of the EC, has already submitted to Geneva the very figures that constitute the basis for the fears in all of these questions? Would the Minister not accept that he is fighting a rearguard action and that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change things?

Mr. J. Walsh:  The schedules have been submitted to Geneva, as pointed out by Deputy Cox. The fact remains that the Council of Ministers has to agree and formally sanction this agreement ultimately. Between now and the finalisation of the agreement the additional time will give us an opportunity to bring about the modifications. The situation as it exists at present would be, to put it starkly, devastating for much of our industry, particularly when the implications would take place early on in the agreement. The present position is that the Irish will strongly disagree with the draft agreement as it stands and we will use every opportunity to tailor it to suit Irish conditions. We have a fair amount of support for our position within the Council of Ministers, notably from the French. We are working in tandem on this matter and I expect we will be able to bring about the necessary modifications to suit our system here.

Mr. Deasy:  During the GATT negotiations did the question of the prohibition of New Zealand lamb entering the EC arise? If not, why, because our [1788] lamb trade is being destroyed by massive imports of New Zealand lamb into the EC?

Mr. J. Walsh:  Yes, that matter arose on a number of occasions. We always highlighted it, especially last year when our lamb trade was going through such a difficult time. It was galling to find competition in the European marketplace from a non-Community country but we were constantly reminded of the existing agreements which had to be adhered to. At the same time we pointed out the anomalies of a member state going through a difficult time in a sector which was aggravated by substantial imports of New Zealand lamb. We will continue to highlight this matter and will seek to improve it in any review of existing agreements.

Mr. Crawford:  Will the Minister agree that it is necessary in any GATT agreement to obtain a guarantee from the Americans, New Zealanders and Eastern Europeans that they would also accept a quota regime in relation to milk? Without casting any aspersions on the Minister — I accept he is doing his best — I urge the Taoiseach to consult his European partners to ensure the GATT agreement is fought tooth and nail as it is vital to our national interest?

Mr. J. Walsh:  There is no point in introducing discipline in production and supply control in Europe if other parties to an agreement throughout the world can increase their production. There must be discipline in the area internationally. We are aware that New Zealanders, Australians and Americans are increasing production. At the same time we must appreciate that a trade agreement is needed. It is very important for us to have trading partners who have a benign attitude to Ireland. Deputies will recall the difficulty in regard to the oil seed dispute last year when many representations were received from the dairy industry in relation to casein and cream liqueurs. Fighting the GATT agreement per se is not enough. If the Americans [1789] decided to retaliate it would affect Ireland more than most countries as we have an open economy. There are two sides to this story. We want to get a balance, a global and fair agreement that would not have a detrimental effect on any sector of our economy and which it would allow us to trade in Europe and internationally. Any sacrifices by Irish producers — or indeed those in any member state — should also be made by other parties to the GATT agreement.

Mr. Molloy:  In light of the developments in the GATT negotiations what steps, if any, has the Minister taken to pursue the question of the disadvantaged farmers' programme with the Commission?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The next question relates to that matter.

Mr. Molloy:  Sorry, I am not referring to disadvantaged areas, but to the disadvantaged farmers' programme. There is a commitment in the Programme for Government arising from the GATT negotiations that the Government will pursue this matter with the Commission. What steps have been taken to date?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Let us differentiate between this question and the next on the review of the disadvantaged areas scheme.

Mr. Molloy:  That is a separate matter.

An Ceann Comhairle:  It is a separate matter.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I did not get the import of the Deputy's question. I assumed it related to the next question, perhaps the Deputy will repeat it briefly and I will seek to answer it.

Mr. Molloy:  Far be it from me to remind the Minister of the contents of the Programme for Government, anyway I am not allowed to quote. It says the Government will pursue with the Commission the necessary improvements and, [1790] in particular, the question of a disadvantaged farms programme. In the context of the outcome of the GATT negotiations it is understood that the Government would undertake to pursue this matter with the Commission. If the Minister is not aware of this commitment I will be happy to enlighten him.

A Deputy:  It was probably made by the Labour Party.

An Ceann Comhairle:  May I have clarification, how does this relate to the next question?

Mr. Cox:  It does not relate to the next question. It arises from GATT.

Mr. J. Walsh:  No.

Mr. Cox:  Perhaps I could explain to you, a Cheann Comhairle, that the disadvantaged areas scheme related to areas, this applies to individual farms.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Let us hear the Minister if it is relevant to GATT.

Mr. J. Walsh:  I do not know whether GATT, disadvantaged areas, Programmes for Government and partnerships in Government are interrelated. I give an undertaking that we will pursue all matters in the Programme for Government and also ensure that farms outside designated disadvantaged areas will be considered for designation and given appropriate grant aid. There may be disadvantaged farmers in the Golden Vale or in parts of Wexford and they, like the disadvantaged farmers in Connemara or West Galway, are entitled to whatever benefits or grant aids are available.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair is anxious not to disadvantage the Deputies who tabled specific questions on the disadvantaged areas scheme and he will move to that question now. Question No. 9.

[1791]

  9.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the extent to which the appeals in respect of the review of the disadvantaged areas scheme has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter

  12.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when he intends to declare the remainder of Counties Cavan and Monaghan severely handicapped; and if he has provided for such a declaration in the 1993 budget.

  15.  Mr. Cullen    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when he intends introducing a third category under the disadvantaged areas scheme involving extensions, reclassification and increases in payment rates.

  23.  Ms. O'Donnell    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when the disadvantaged areas reclassification appeals panel will publish its findings; and if he will give an assurance that retrospective payments of headage grants will be made to those whose appeals result in reclassification.

  26.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the area in County Mayo he proposes to redesignate as being severely disadvantaged under the new EC scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  30.  Mr. Boylan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when it is intended to have the remainder of the land in Counties Cavan and Monaghan included under the EC severely handicapped area scheme in order that they are brought in line with neighbouring counties such as Longford and Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[1792]

  33.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the position regarding the reclassification of the disadvantaged areas appeal process; when a final decision will be given on the appeal for the 10,000 townlands concerned; and when he will introduce a third category of disadvantaged area, termed extremely disadvantaged area as promised in the Programme for Partnership Government 1993-1997.

  39.  Mr. Deenihan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a decision will be made on the appeal by persons in those areas excluded from the recent reclassification of disadvantaged areas.

  47.  Mr. Deenihan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if the criteria used for reclassification of disadvantaged areas will be changed especially in relation to the average family farm income.

  51.  Mr. Cox    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposed level of increases in payment rates under the disadvantaged areas schemes referred to in the Programme for Partnership Government 1993-1997.

  131.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when the review and reclassification on the disadvantaged areas appeal process will be completed; and if those townlands which are included and reclassified will get the benefits of additional headage and other payments in 1993.

  153.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the criteria for the establishment of the new extremely disadvantaged areas as promised in the Programme for Government 1993-1997; and the proportion of land in the country which he envisages will qualify for this category of entitlement.

[1793]

  154.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if, after the current review and reclassification of the disadvantaged areas is complete, the concept of individual disadvantaged farms will be introduced for those who themselves justify the criteria but whose overall area does not.

  178.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    whether the information available to the disadvantaged areas appeal panel concerning specific appeals and townlands will be made available to the secretaries or representatives of those groups.

  202.  Mr. Bradford    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the cost to date of the disadvantaged areas appeal tribunal, the expected cost to complete the work of the tribunal; and when the tribunal will issue its report.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Hyland):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 9, 12, 15, 23, 26, 30, 33, 39, 47, 51, 131, 153, 154, 178 and 202 together.

The Disadvantaged Areas Appeals Panel is carrying out a detailed analysis of data from the survey of 10,000 townlands in Leinster and Munster which appealed their non-inclusion in the disadvantaged areas. When the panel has completed its analysis it will make recommendations to my Department on the townlands under appeal. On the basis of the panel's recommendations the Department will prepare a formal submission to the EC Commission who will make the final decision on the areas to be proposed for ratification by the Council of Ministers. It is important to note that details of the proposed areas are confidential to the appeals panel and my Department and results of the appeals will not be released until the final decision is made in Brussels.

Because of the size and complexity of the task it is not possible to predict when it will be completed and, while it is in everyone's interest to have the job done quickly, it is equally important that the panel should carry out a thorough analysis as a prerequisite to having acceptable recommendations for submission to the Commission in Brussels for ratification. There will be no delay in finalising the issue here and, when the submission is [1794] ratified, there will be no undue delay in making payments available to farmers in successful areas.

When the analysis of areas seeking inclusion is completed, the panel will turn its attention to examining the areas seeking reclassification including all remaining areas of Cavan and Monaghan which were raised in specific questions and are under appeal. The review of the criteria for reclassification has been the subject of recent negotiations between my Department and the farming organisations, and I expect a reasonably early positive decision on this matter. The results of the departmental review will, of course, be notified without delay to the appeals panel.

The costs incurred by the disadvantaged areas appeals panel from its commencement in June 1991 to date amount to £330,000. The bulk of the cost is attributable to the survey of 40,000 farms early last year. Fixed costs, such as the salaries of the 200 departmental inspectors involved in the survey and permanent office staff, are not included in the figure; £151,000 has been allocated to the panel in respect of 1993.

The disadvantaged areas scheme is designed to operate on fixed boundaries drawn on the objective basis of the smallest permanent administrative unit, the townland. The present appeals arrangement is, necessarily, being operated in that context. The Programme for Government does, however, commit us, in the light of the outcome of the GATT negotiations, to review the income support effects of EC structural measures for agriculture and to pursue with the Commission necessary improvements. In that context the question of a disadvantaged farms programme will be considered.

Mr. Cox:  A safe pair of hands.

Mr. Hyland:  The proposal for a third category is in its very early stages of development. The question of which areas should be included, including County Mayo, is being considered. In this regard discussions are taking place [1795] between my Department, the EC Commission and the farming organisations with a view to defining boundaries. Decisions, on the level of payments, will be taken following the reorganisation of the scheme resulting from the work of the appeals panel and the resolution of the third category issue.

Mr. Durkan:  Is the Minister of State happy that it is taking so long to complete the review? Is it proposed to publish the date on which the report will be forwarded to Brussels? Will he outline the action the Government proposes to take in the matter following the submission of the proposals to Brussels?

Mr. Hyland:  In relation to the time scale involved, I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that an intensive and indepth analysis had to be carried out of all the farms concerned. Ten thousand townlands were surveyed, which would give Deputies some idea of the numbers of farmers involved.

The time scale specified by the Minister in relation to the field work was adhered to. While the task of processing the applications, when submitted to the Department, proved far more difficult than expected, nonetheless, this work was expedited and the appeals panel are now considering the matter. I am satisfied that they will quickly reach a conclusion. While it is difficult to specify a time scale every possible effort is being made to expedite the appeals decision.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Many Deputies have tabled questions on this subject. I propose to call the Deputies in the order they submitted questions to me on the Order Paper.

Mr. Crawford:  I have asked exactly when all of Cavan-Monaghan will be included, and I take it that a field survey has not been carried out in the area. The main problem is the 40 per cent income limit which should be raised to 70 per cent. It is absolutely essential that this is done. It is difficult to understand the [1796] reason all of Cavan-Monaghan has not been declared handicapped given that all of Longford-Roscommon has been included. Because some of the poorer parts of Cavan-Monaghan have already been included the average income figure has been raised in the remaining parts. When will this matter be dealt with?

An Ceann Comhairle:  May I appeal for brevity?

Mr. Crawford:  Perhaps the Minister of State would show us the figures which resulted in Longford-Roscommon being included because it is very difficult for us to understand how parts of Longford-Roscommon could be included while vast areas of Cavan-Monaghan, such as Seeall Mountain and my own parish of Aghabog, have not.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I want to call a number of Deputies, especially those present in the House, but brevity must be the key note.

Mr. Hyland:  Sixty-three per cent of the total land area of County Cavan, or 119,000 hectares, is classed as severely handicapped. This compares with a figure of 39 per cent prior to the last review. Forty-three per cent of the total land area of County Monaghan, or 56,000 hectares is classed as severely handicapped and represents an increase of 23 per cent. I am sure the Deputy would agree that it would be sensible to dispose of the appeals first and then move on to review the criteria and the question of disadvantaged farms.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I now call——

Mr. Crawford:  How long will that take?

An Ceann Comhairle:  Sorry, I now call Deputy Jimmy Deenihan who has a number of questions tabled on the subject.

Mr. Deenihan:  Would the Minister of State be more specific about the average [1797] figure for family farm income? That is the kernel of the problem in counties such as Kerry. Would the Minister of State give a commitment here today to raise family farm income limit from 40 per cent of the national family farm income figure to at least 70 per cent? Would he also give a commitment to raise the limit in regard to the number of people engaged in agriculture in a townland from 40 per cent to 70 per cent and to include part-time farmers as part of the farming population?

Mr. Hyland:  Those matters are being considered at present. We have had discussions with the farming organisations on the 40 per cent limit in relation to income and the number of people engaged in agriculture. I am optimistic that the outcome of the review will be favourable from the farmer's point of view.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I now call Deputy Cox.

Mr. Yates:  I tabled five questions.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am calling the Deputies as they appear before me on the Order Paper, in sequence.

Mr. Cox:  I have a very brief policy question for the Minister of State who has referred to the smallest unit, the townland. The problem the last time was that townlands had to be contiguous. Will a townland, which meets the criteria but which is not contiguous to other disadvantaged areas, qualify?

Mr. Hyland:  It is our goal to ensure that the maximum number of areas are designated under existing regulations and it is for that reason we are using townlands for the purposes of classification. As the Minister has already indicated, we are prepared to extend the criteria to include individual disadvantaged farms. I am satisfied that the appeals board will examine the question posed by the Deputy to maximise the benefit to be gained under the scheme. The Deputy [1798] can be assured that the appeals board will endeavour to achieve the best possible result.

Mr. Yates:  May I put it to the Minister of State that he is indulging in waffle, which we have had to listen to for a year on this subject, that the survey was completed last March, that no timetable has been specified and that he has not indicated how many townlands will be included? Would he further agree that his credibility on this matter has been eroded given that not one penny has been provided in the Estimates, not to mention the third category of extremely disadvantaged areas? Would he now give a commitment that those farmers whose lands will be reclassified will benefit in 1993?

Mr. Hyland:  Deputy Yates should not accuse me of indulging in waffle in relation to disadvantaged areas——

Mr. Yates:  We are listening to the same old story.

Mr. Hyland:  ——when both he and his party had an opportunity of doing something positive about disadvantaged areas.

A Deputy:  We did.

Mr. Hyland:  What I am saying is that we need to be careful in regard to the list of areas submitted to the appeals board.

Mr. Durkan:  That will take a long time.

Mr. Hyland:  I have the utmost confidence in the appeals board that it will expedite its decision. We must have confidence in the appeals boards, since it is representative of our farming organisations and the Department. I have the utmost confidence that it will expedite the matter as quickly as possible.

Mr. Yates:  Why did the Minister not provide money in the Estimates? That is not the fault of the appeals board; it is the fault of the Minister and his Department.

[1799]An Ceann Comhairle:  I want to bring these questions to finality.

Mr. Yates:  No answers are being given to these questions. Will the Minister say whether they will get the benefits in 1993 and why is there no money?

An Ceann Comhairle:  If Deputy Bradford wishes to intervene he may — he has a question tabled — if not, I call Deputy Jimmy Leonard.

Mr. Leonard:  To date, the redesignation process has demonstrated that there is a distinction drawn between disadvantaged farms and disadvantaged areas. There have been adequate surveys and figures available to demonstrate clearly it is time disadvantaged farms were taken into account; I stress that the evidence exists. In my constituency the extensions were effected by drawing lines with a pencil, extending existing areas instead of moving into the centre of the county where we had undertaken our own surveys, which proved that the only fair and equitable method or criteria on which to rely would be a farm survey rather than an extension of townlands, as has been done to date.

Mr. Hyland:  The point has already been made and accepted by the Minister that disadvantaged farms will be considered in the context of the Programme for Government with the third category of designation, which is also important.

Mr. Deasy:  The Minister will be aware that the relevant EC regulations stated that, on appeal, 1.5 per cent only of the national territory could be added to the review. Is that regulation still in place, has the figure of 1.5 per cent been changed or in the process of being changed, because that would merely account for 255,000 acres nationwide and satisfy only about one-tenth of those applications on appeal?

Mr. Hyland:  The 1.5 per cent restriction certainly would be a very serious one for Ireland. However, there is a procedure [1800] whereby we can go to the Commission to seek approval of a larger increase. We are prepared to do so in terms of the recommendations of the appeals board.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputies have been offering for some time, and they must be brief. I call Deputies Hogan, Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) and Yates.

Mr. Hogan:  Will the Minister accept that it has taken two years to come to a decision on appeals in respect of disadvantaged areas and that, as other Members stated, he failed to make the necessary finance and staff available to process such applications? Will he give a categoric assurance that all the applicants who successfully appeal will be paid their headage grants in 1993?

Mr. Hyland:  I have already indicated that every possible effort is being made to expedite a decision. I know that the appeals board panel will do that as quickly as possible. In relation to funding for 1993 we cannot anticipate in advance the likely outcome of the appeals board but it would not be the first time that we would have brought forward payments. For example, the Minister did so in 1992 in respect of livestock grants. I moved a Vote in the House in the amount of £12 million for that purpose.

Mr. Browne:  (Carlow-Kilkenny): The Minister placed great emphasis on the confidentiality of the submissions, etc. Will the Minister guarantee that the results will not be for the information of Fianna Fáil and Labour Oireachtas members only?

Mr. Hyland:  I will not comment on Deputy Browne's question because I have no doubt there are quite a number of previous examples of——

Mr. Yates:  I do not think the House needs to be reminded that the Minister brought forward payments for the election but they have been very slow in coming since then. Will the Minister say [1801] whether the indication that money has not been provided is because the Estimate for the Department is a gross underestimate of what will be spent this year? Is it because the Minister and the Department think very little land will be approved? Will the benefits be available in 1993 for increased headage payments for those whose lucky number comes up in this appeals process?

Mr. Hyland:  I have to await the outcome. The reality is that we want to see the maximum land area of this country designated. That is the guideline issued by the Minister and myself to the appeals board.

  10.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he intends to ensure that the gap between the larger subsidy paid for the export of live cattle and the smaller subsidy paid for killing and processing the animals in Ireland will be eliminated thereby helping to save jobs.

  56.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if the special spring slaughter premium on cattle will be available for cattle exported live outside the EC during the same time of year; the steps, if any, he is taking to ensure this.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. O'Shea):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 56 together.

The deseasonalisation slaughter premium which was negotiated as part of the Common Agricultural Policy reform agreement is designed to encourage a more even slaughtering pattern throughout the year, which is essential for marketing purposes. The premium is payable on eligible animals slaughtered in Ireland in the period 1 January to 30 April 1993. It is not payable on animals exported live. However, the EC Commission recently increased the export refunds payable on [1802] live exports to certain Third Country destinations until 30 April 1993.

My overall objective is to ensure fair competition so that a proper balance is struck between providing producers with reasonable returns and providing processors with the supplies they need to sustain and develop trade in value-added products. The improvement in the structure of the beef processing industry to ensure that as much as possible of its value-added production takes place in Ireland is an important policy aim. I am satisfied that adequate supplies are available to meet our present processing needs. However, I am monitoring developments closely to ensure that there are no trade distortions.

Ms McManus:  Will the Minister accept that there is a gross anomaly in relation to the export refund scheme under which producers are encouraged to export animals live rather than having them processed at home? He stated that there is a policy aim in relation to processing at home which forms part of the Joint Programme for Government. Nothing in his reply indicates how he intends to proceed to ensure that that happens. Is the Minister also aware that serious concern has been expressed by IBEC that the IDA policy in relation to this overall matter is also very specific? Is he aware that there are expressions of grave concern in relation to job creation? How does he intend to realise the aim which, obviously, he supports?

Mr. O'Shea:  At present there is an expert group sitting within my Department considering this matter, which is to report within the next month or two, advancing a proposal for the expansion of the food processing industry disseminated from the Culliton report on through the Programme for Economic and Social Progress agreement. When that report is available it will be referred to the social partners. However, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry has already stated — and I reiterate that assurance — that it will not be delayed in the Department. Obviously, [1803] the optimum aim is that no beast leaves the country without going to a factory to be processed, and that we benefit from the added-value and the job creation arising therefrom. The present dilemma is reflected in the two questions which have been tabled. Deputy Yates's question relates to the premium being extended to cattle which go outside the Community whereas Deputy McManus dealt with the retention of sufficient stocks. There is no problem in terms of supply, we are continuing to monitor the position to ensure supply and, at the same time, a proper return to producers. At the end of the day our aim is to encourage competition in the market, ensuring returns for producers, but having as much processing as possible of our national herd.

Mr. Yates:  Will the Minister agree that while, superficially, IBEC and Deputy McManus have a point about maximising jobs, if one looks at the position, one will observe that the only buoyancy in cattle and beef prices has been as a result of the reintroduction of live exports? Beef processors said, when MCAs were to be abolished, there would be a cut of 12p a pound in beef, this reduction did not materialise not because MCAs were not abolished — they were — but because of live exports. Will the Minister of State agree that it is essential that farmers, producers, and all the economic spending they generate, means they are entitled to a fair return on their beef and that the best method of ensuring this is to have some level of decent export refunds such as is now in place?

Mr. O'Shea:  I agree with Deputy Yates that it is vital for the producers to get a proper return. Indeed the fact that live exports are taking place once again shows us clearly the value of competition. The Deputy will appreciate the dilemma to which I referred earlier that we have to get the balance right. When there is distortion of trade the Department and the Minister must move at Community level to have it put right.

[1804]Mr. T. Foxe:  Will the Minister agree that if the gap between the subsidy for live cattle and slaughtered animals is to be narrowed the subsidy on live exports should be reduced? Will the Minister further agree that it is only when we have a good live export trade that our factories see fit to give farmers a decent price for their animals?

Mr. O'Shea:  Current comparison figures would be £53 at the factory and £38 on export refunds. Obviously — I reiterate this — we must cater for the producer. In the context of the producer, competition is very important. On the other hand, we must ensure that every development is made in the food processing industry and that there is a resultant increase in employment, something to which all Members in this House are committed. In the context of the expert group report which is due, we hope to make strides in that regard this year.

Mr. J. Higgins:  While acknowledging the agreed need for competition between the live export trade and the factories, will the Minister agree that millions of pounds have been given by way of grants to meat factories but that instead of real added value all that has happened to date — with few exceptions — is that the workers cut the heads and tails off the animals, freeze them and export them in their raw state?

Mr. O'Shea:  Obviously, we seek to have the highest level of added value applied to the industry. Since I became Minister of State in the Department it has become clear that we must aim for upmarket goods and sophistication in terms of products. The Government is concerned to do everything possible to ensure that — as I said in an earlier reply — we get the maximum number of jobs from the food processing industry and, with particular reference to this question, from the beef processing industry.

Ms McManus:  Will the Minister agree that the balance he seeks between the needs of producers, workers and potential [1805] workers has not been evident so far? This is one example. Will he guarantee that, in relation to this report and whatever procedure takes place after that, the full potential for job creation will be realised in the whole field of agriculture?

Mr. O'Shea:  The present position seems to indicate that the live cattle export trade has orders for 80,000 animals. At present, there is a sufficient supply to the existing meat processing factories and we do not have the problem to which the Deputy alludes. On the other hand we have to broaden the base of this industry. I can give a commitment that both partners in Government will be pushing that issue as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Mr. Yates:  In relation to the spring slaughter premium, I would like to bring to the Minister's attention that many people processing for the home market who are approved under the Abattoirs licence are not eligible for the spring slaughter premium because they do not have an export licence. A number of cases in that regard have been brought to my attention and to that of the Department in recent weeks. As these are bona fide steers slaughtered in the country will the Minister ensure that the slaughter premium will be made available to those abattoirs who have the highest hygiene standards etc., and licensed under the Abattoirs Act?

Mr. O'Shea:  I thank Deputy Yates for raising that matter. I visited such a plant last Monday which provides for the home market. They are making a detailed submission to me and we will deal with it promptly when it arrives.

  11.  Mr. O'Malley    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the measures, if any, he intends to introduce to build up small industry through productive use of indigenous resources such as food processing and timber processing.

[1806]Mr. O'Shea:  The Industrial Development Authority has ongoing business development and grant programmes for small industries from which companies in the food and timber sectors can benefit. These include programmes on management development, capability enhancement, linkages and business partnership. In addition, the National Food Centre offers research, analytical and management services, as well as product and process development and quality control activities, which are available to small food businesses. Furthermore, small food businesses have been supported by grants under the FEOGA marketing and processing scheme operated by my Department. Opportunities also exist, of course, for small food and timber enterprises under the Leader programme.

The Programme for Government emphasises our intention to implement a development programme for the food industry following consideration of the report of the expert group on the food industry, which I expect to receive within a month or two.

Mr. J. Higgins:  Is the Minister of State aware that the Taoiseach told the House last week that timber imports amounted to £181,000 and 464,000 tonnes for the nine months up to September 1992? Is the Minister appalled that on the very day we lost 800 jobs in the west there were substantial reports in his Department which proved we have a major viable wood pulp processing industry if we had the know how, determination and the foresight to develop it? We could create between 400 and 500 jobs in the north-west of the country if only we would bite the bullet in this regard.

Mr. O'Shea:  The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Deputy Hyland, has particular responsibility for the food processing industry. I know he is well aware of that situation and the matter is being vigorously pursued in the Department.

[1807]

  13.  Ms Keogh    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the plans, if any, which are being made to continue and expand the Leader programme for rural development when the present programme expires.

  48.  Mr. Deasy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the position the application of an organisation (details supplied) occupied on the priority list drawn up by his Department for finance under the Leader programme; and the number of applications for funding which were successful.

  54.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the procedures, if any, which are in place to ensure that funds allocated under the EC Leader programme are spent for the puposes for which they are allocated, and are not misapplied or abused in anyway; the response, if any, he has received from an organisation (details supplied) to his request for the return of moneys allocated to it under the Leader programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  134.  Mr. Deasy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will give details of all Leader programmes which applied to his Department for funding in the order which was recommended by the officials from his Department who vetted the application.

  168.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, there are to increase the rate of grant-aid under the Leader programme to individual projects to a higher rate of 80 per cent.

Mr. Hyland:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 48, 54, 134 and 168 together.

There were 34 applicant groups for funding under the EC Leader programme on rural development in 1991. For convenience, I will send a list of the applicants to Deputy Deasy instead of [1808] detailing them here. The business plans submitted by these groups were independently evaluated by consultants engaged by my Department at that time. The order of merit of the plans, based on the evaluation, is confidential. The Government decided to submit all the business plans, with the report of the consultants, to the EC Commission for consideration. The Commission eventually decided to select 16 Irish groups for funding under the programme.

The major features of the Leader programme are that the selected groups are funded through global grants and that the decisions on the use of the grants are taken by the groups themselves in keeping with the general development strategy in each particular group's business plan. There is a formal legal agreement between the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and each of the Leader groups which sets out the responsibilities of the parties, including the arrangements for advance of the public funds, which are normally paid in quarterly instalments. In addition, detailed guidelines were supplied to each group by my Department in relation to the operation of the programme and in particular to project eligibility criteria.

While keeping with the spirit of the programme — in particular, that the decisions on investments in projects are made by the groups themselves — the agreement requires each group, among other things, to document its operations, keep adequate accounts, submit monthly progress reports to my Department and provide a bond to ensure that moneys advanced to it will be used only for the purposes for which they are provided. In addition, the groups are subject to periodic checks through visits by local inspectors of my Department.

In the recent Tipperary Enterprise case, some £306,000 was refunded by the group at my request in December. The request for the refund of a further £250,000 more recently following the outcome of investigations undertaken by my Department relating to the operation of the Leader programme by that group resulted in a decision of the company to [1809] wind up its affairs. As a result, I have taken steps to recover the funds under the bond.

In the meantime, I am making every effort to ensure that the balance of £2 million of Leader funds is secured for County Tipperary and that the programme can continue in the county under the management of a new group. For this purpose I met a number of the interest groups from Tipperary in the past week.

The question of continuing the Leader programme, which is an EC pilot scheme initiative outside the Community Support Framework of the Structural Fund, falls to be considered by the EC Commission in the context of the post-1993 round of Structural Funds. I have made no secret of my commitment to the Leader model and I hope to see it continue on a national basis and with increased funding. However, much will depend on the success of the current programme, not just here, but in the other EC member states.

Under the present programme, the level of grant aid that may be offered for individual projects is, on average, 50 per cent. The case for increased grant levels will be taken up in the context of the evaluation programme.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I will be calling Deputies who have tabled questions on this subject and who are present in the House.

Mr. Deasy:  The Minister said that 36 sets of proposals were forwarded to his Department, 16 which were recommended by independent consultants, and that the report is confidential. Does the Minister not think that, in view of the scandal surrounding Tipperary Enterprises, the report should be made public? There is a suspicion — I am simply using the word “suspicion”— that some of the projects were not among those recommended by the independent consultants. Therefore, I ask the Minister to publish the report as soon as possible so that the public will know if there was some political favouritism or patronage [1810] involved, particularly in the Tipperary Enterprises case.

Mr. Hyland:  I assure Deputy Deasy that all the submissions were examined in great detail by officials of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. They were prioritised and then forwarded to the EC Commission for final approval. I indicated in my reply that, for obvious reasons, the individual submissions, because of their nature, must remain confidential.

Mr. Deasy:  I should like to know the order in which they were recommended by the consultants.

Mr. Hyland:  I will see whether it is possible for me to convey that information to the Deputy, and if so, I will be pleased to do so.

Ms McManus:  In relation to the whole question of public accountability, is the Minister aware that because this is a new scheme there is a wide variety of programmes in operation involving different management structures and that a certain amount of assessment is required at this stage in regard to its success? It would be very useful if this information was made public. As regards the checking system and the success of these programmes, will the Minister say whether any difficulties are being experienced where areas most in need of development projects may not be able to take up the programme because they simply cannot match the 50 per cent required?

Mr. Hyland:  It is important that Deputies understand the nature of the Leader programme. It is a pilot scheme involving for the first time local communities who identify their potential for development, put in place business plans to initiate development and avail of funding from the European Community — it is what is known as a “bottom-up” approach. The scheme is being carefully monitored by the Department without employing extreme bureaucratic control because that would cut across the whole [1811] spirit of the scheme. Arising from what happened in Tipperary, we are reviewing the control procedures for the purpose of accountability of public funds while at the same time allowing the maximum freedom to local groups to implement their programmes with the least possible bureaucratic control.

Deputy McManus rose.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Sorry, we are behind in Question Time today, I want to get on to other important business. Deputy Yates, a final question.

Mr. Yates:  I have two questions. Will the Minister review the rate of grant aid under the Leader programme with a view to increasing it? Will he confirm that virtually all payments to the Leader projects have been embargoed since the Tipperary débâcle and will he ensure that bona fide Leader programmes are paid in the normal way as soon as possible?

Mr. Hyland:  I accept the Deputy's point that in some instances difficulties are experienced with the 50-50 funding contribution requirement. However, as I indicated, this is a pilot programme, which is due to conclude at the end of 1993. I hope we will be able to negotiate a Leader mark II programme. In the negotiations for that programme I will bring all those points to the attention of the Commission, as well as our experiences in relation to the operation of the first Leader programme. The Deputy can take it that we will endeavour to ensure a continuation of the Leader programme with the ongoing voluntary participation of local communities and, I hope, with a degree of flexibility in relation to the level of local contribution required.

An Ceann Comhairle:  That disposes of questions for today.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given to me under Standing Order 20(3) (a) and the name of the Member in each case:

(1) Deputy Sargent — the high number of hares killed at Clounanna, County Limerick, at the weekend of 20-21 February 1993; and if in the light of calls from followers of coursing as well as those opposed for a ban on this barbaric activity, he will state his intention regarding amendments to the Wildlife Act, 1976, and if he will make a statement on [1924] the matter; (2) Deputy D. Ahern — the need for a new school premises at Scoil Chríost Rí, Dundalk, County Louth; (3) Deputy Mulvihill — The present crisis in the Irish Steel Company's plant in Haulbowline, Cobh, County Cork, and to ask the Government to do all in its power to ensure the survival of this plant and the jobs of its 560 workforce; (4) Deputy T. Ahearn — the decision by the South Eastern Health Board to remove orthopaedic trauma surgery from Our Lady's Hospital in Cashel and the illogicality of this decision when at present there is an 18 month waiting list for appointments with orthopaedic specialists in Cashel; (5) Deputy J. Mitchell — the anomaly whereby unemployed persons who become sick and are admitted to hospital lose their social welfare payment while they are in hospital; and the resultant loss of income and hardship for their families.

I have selected for discussion the matters raised by Deputies Jim Mitchell; Theresa Ahearn and Dermot Ahern.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Dempsey):  Statements shall be made now on the Digital plant in Galway and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening statement of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment and of the main Opposition spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrats and the Technical Group shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; the statement of each other Member called on shall not exceed five minutes and the Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon not later than 4.40 p.m. to make a statement in reply not exceeding five minutes.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn):  I issued the following statement today — I will read it for the benefit of the House — in relation to the announcement made and conveyed to me at approximately 9.30-10 o'clock this [1925] morning: This is a major disappointment to the Government and the people of Galway in particular who have served the company loyally over the past 22 years. The upheavel this decision will cause to the community and the economy of Galway cannot be overstated.

Support for the Digital operation in Galway was never an issue as Ireland bettered anything on offer and, indeed, made certain innovative suggestions to secure Digital in Galway. The deciding issue appears to be Digital's perception of the need to have a continued presence its major European market, the United Kingdom.

I reject the basis for this perception and point to the many companies who are successful in penetrating and building across Europe from Ireland. Their broader vision of the potential of the wider European market reinforces their commitment to Ireland as a manufacturing base.

The undertaking by Digital to upgrade the existing Galway software operation to become one of two global locations for software development is an endorsement of Galway's existing capabilities and a reaffirmation of the quality of Ireland's dynamic software sector.

In discussion with Digital headquarters in Boston, I was reassured that the company will allow 12 months to phase down the operations at Galway and to enable the marketing of the facility for new investment; existing Irish suppliers to Digital Galway will continue as preferred suppliers to Digital, Ayr, Scotland; the first class Galway facility will be made available to potential investors on attractive terms.

The shock and anxiety experienced today by all those concerned demands an urgent response from the Government and its agencies. Today I have asked the IDA to immediately devise and implement a priority programme of investment and enterprise promotion for Galway with the target of achieving the maximum number of new jobs in the city and county within the one year timeframe conceded by the company. My colleagues and I in Government will be working [1926] closely with the IDA and other development agencies to ensure that this programme is successful.

I will read an extract from the press statement issued by Mr. Kieran McGowan, chief executive of the IDA, giving details of the action that the IDA now proposes to take in relation to the programme to which I referred:

1. A high level task force, comprising senior managers in IDA with long track record in delivering results, will immediately commence intensive marketing of Galway as an excellent centre for new high-tech investment. There is immediately available 80,000 sq. ft. of factory buildings to accommodate such investment, in addition to the facilities which Digital Corporation DEC will be making available.

2. A programme of enterprise promotion and contact will be put in place to work with Digital staff to ensure that every effort is made to form new businesses which can grow out of their long experience and track records in working with one of the world's leading companies in high technology manufacturing.

3. An increased effort will be made, backed by a flexible and wide range of incentives, to stimulate more new and expansion of small business investments by local people in Galway to help alleviate the impact of the DEC job losses. There is a particular opportunity right now to work in partnership with the large number of foreign companies in Ireland who want to source more Irish components and services here in Ireland. For example, in electronics alone, there is a short-term potential for up to 3,000 new jobs.

4. IDA people, at top level, will also be immediately available to join with local leadership in Galway to formulate any other plans that have prospect of increasing the prosperity of business, and its employment impact, in Galway.

The Government has been aware of this problem for a number of months. Indeed, for nine months during the period of office of the previous Government the precarious position of Digital's hardware area was brought to the attention [1927] of the then Minister for Industry and Commerce through the IDA. Following the closure of Digital in Clonmel the warning bells started to sound. Those bells go back five years when Digital, in gearing up for the next stage in technology, took a strategic decision to invest in Scotland.

Nothwithstanding that, I wish to assure the House and those who are of the opinion that the Government was lax or too late in intervening to try to save the hardware jobs in Digital, that from the very first day I was appointed Minister the situation in Digital was brought to my attention. From the beginning I was in regular, if not daily, contact with the IDA, both directly and indirectly through officials in my Department. We intervened immediately we were requested by the IDA in terms of our physical presence in Boston. I responded to a very generous and non-partisan offer of help from the Mayor of Galway, Deputy McCormack, to make himself available should that be considered useful. Following consultations with the Taoiseach, I availed of that offer. The Mayor of Galway and the Galway city and county manager accompanied me to Boston to make the final presentation. Regretfully, I must announce to this House, and to the people of Galway, that despite the best, united efforts of everybody in this House and in the IDA, we were not able to dissuade Digital management in Boston from their perception of their advantage from the point of their shareholders and their company of the position they would obtain by being based in Ayr with their hardware manufacturing.

The effort of the IDA in conjunction with the 800 workers whose jobs will now be phased out over the next 12 months will be unstinting in our determination to find new forms of wealth creation and job creation.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I wish to share my time with Deputy Connaughton.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Is that agreed? Agreed.

[1928]Mr. J. Bruton:  The loss of 800 jobs, probably seen as the most secure in the country, is a tragedy for Galway, the west and the nation. The families concerned are devastated. Where can they now go for work? What hope can they offer their children of being able to continue their education in the area in which they grew up? This sense of loss is so overwhelming that it is important this debate should give some sense of hope to the people concerned, and I hope that it does, or at least some sense of understanding of what happened. This loss, the sense of fear and foreboding will be felt by many who still hold jobs in the commercial sector. It will accentuate the caution and the aversion to risk that has already been generated by the highest interest rates in the history of the State and by the anti-jobs element of the budget just published by the Government.

The managing director of the IDA told us at lunchtime today that these jobs were safe for Galway up to three weeks ago and had been lost to Scotland in the past three weeks. It appears that the Minister's intervention, despite the polite comments from Digital, was too little and too late. I regret in particular that the Taoiseach, a native of the west, and the Tánaiste who also comes from the western seaboard, did not visit Digital headquarter to underline the case that, no doubt, was made with sincerity, if belatedly, by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment.

These jobs were lost to Scotland because Digital felt it could serve its British customers better from Ayr than from Galway. It would appear that the rhetoric about 1992, about Ireland being part of a Single Market, including Britain, counted for very little in the hard commercial decision-making in the boardrooms in Massachusetts. Making complaints to Brussels at this stage is to late. What can Commissioner Van Miert do at this stage to save the jobs in Digital? He can do nothing. Why were complaints not made three weeks ago?

The loss of highly skilled jobs in a company that had invested so heavily in new technology and set such a good example in research and development in Ireland, [1929] creates a sense of vulnerability about all the 28,000 jobs in computer hardware manufacturing in Ireland, our biggest single export sector in value terms. It is clear that being in high technology does not guarantee job security. The vulnerability of mainframe computer manufacturers, in view of the 30 per cent overcapacity in the industry worldwide and the market trends towards personal computers and away from mainframe, has been known for two or three years or more. It would appear that Governments led by Deputy Reynolds over the past two or three years did not devise a plan — and there is no evidence of one at this stage — to deal with this generalised trend in computer manufacture, a sector on which we depend so much. It is clear that strategic anticipiation of problems of this nature can save jobs. For example, Ericsson once manufactured telephone cables. It was able, by good strategic planning with the aid of the IDA and an intelligent Government, to transform itself out of cable manufacturing and into an area where it is now employing just as many people at higher wages in software. Why was the same level of intelligent anticipation of problems in the Ericsson case some years ago not brought to bear in the Digital case now? That question has yet to be answered by the Government.

The Government urgently needs a strategic plan for electronics sketching a vision for the future. There has been no evidence of that to date. The IDA needs to recognise that the maintenance and upgrading of existing jobs is just as important as attracting new jobs from overseas. Saving jobs that will otherwise be lost may not be the stuff of ministerial press release, but it is even more important than announcements of new jobs, some of which may never be created.

We need a taskforce in Galway to find new work opportunities for Digital's highly skilled workforce. This mix of complimentary skills, if broken up, can never be put together again. It is important that any action taken by the Government and the IDA is immediate. Taking action in a year or two will be too late. It is by indicating a will to take action [1930] along those lines that the Government and this House will convince the workers and their families who have suffered such a devastating blow today that we care about their situation.

Mr. Connaughton:  Last Monday I accompanied a Digital worker to Galway County Council to help him to solve a problem in relation to planning permission. At the time the man was devastated at the thought of losing his job. He said that if he lost his job this week he would go back to the council office, tear up the planning permission application and ask the council to build his house at the taxpayers' expense. That man has no job today and, worse, no prospect of getting one. That story, repeated 780 times in Galway this evening in a county that already has 15,000 people out of work adds up to a story of bitterness, devastation, shock, horror and loneliness. Can anybody really understand what goes on in the mind of a person who is highly trained and motivated and who entered into mortgage arrangements in keeping with his financial circumstances at the time who now sees his world crashing down around him? I assure this House that the workers of Galway feel literally sick this evening. They have no idea what went wrong. They had excellent productivity, excellent markets, and Galway seemed more secure than any other Digital unit in the States or Europe.

I have some very searching questions to put in the few minutes at my disposal, questions that are being asked by thousands of people around the country. Where were the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs when all this was going on? They acted like Pontius Pilate and just washed their hands of the problem when they knew what the final outcome was likely to be, which is outrageous behaviour. Whether they would have had any effect is not the central issue, but their cowardice in keeping a low profile when a more aggressive attitude was called for is the really sickening thing about this. When the Taoiseach ignored this problem last week I knew that the Galway workers were [1931] doomed. If they were to be saved the Taoiseach, not Minister Quinn, would have gone to Boston.

Another question concerns the Government's reaction to the alleged intervention by the UK Government to keep Digital open in Ayr, Scotland. I raised this matter yesterday on the Order of Business but the Taoiseach just shrugged his shoulders, as he often does. It appears that the Government has an inferiority complex when dealing with our European partners. EC competition law has definite ground rules to prevent certain financial inducements being used to attract industry to member states, otherwise small countries like ours would be swamped in Dutch auctions.

I call on the Taoiseach and his Ministers to send another ministerial team and, perhaps, to go himself with the IDA to Digital in Boston immediately to seek an expansion of the software facility in Galway with a view to increasing its workforce very rapidly. In addition, the IDA must be instructed to place Galway at the top if its priority list and to scour the world to attract a flagship industry to Galway.

Galway has had a very bad record of replacing flagship industries. The Sugar Company in Tuam which closed down with the loss of 600 jobs was not replaced. Tynagh Mines in Loughrea provided 500 jobs and not one is left. The peat briquette factory at Ballyforan closed with the loss of 400 jobs. If the Minister cannot do better than he did in the past, the people in Galway will not believe a single word he says.

It is disquieting that the Government politicians from west Galway have kept a very low profile. I am surprised at this, on other occasions one could not keep them out of the limelight, but this time they are extraordinarily quiet.

Mr. Molloy:  With all my fellow citizens of Galway I am deeply shocked at the announcement this morning that the manufacturing unit of our great flagship industry, Digital at Ballybrit, will close. In an earlier debate on this subject I mentioned that I was present 22 years [1932] ago as a Minister in the Government that approved a grant for this factory. I was present at the contract signing ceremony when there were only four or five people employed by the company. I saw the company grow from that small start to an industry which today employs 1,100 in its manufacturing plant and in its software unit and which also provided temporary employment for over 200 people. Many more people are employed in all the companies throughout County Galway and in other parts of Ireland which are subcontracting to that company. All together we are talking about 2,000 or more jobs. This is the most terrible disaster that has struck industrial employment in all my years in this House.

This will have a severe effect on employment in Galway city and the wider region outside the factory because of the link between the main company and the smaller companies that were encouraged to develop. My heart goes out to the workers and their families who are the immediate sufferers in this tragedy.

I heard what the Minister said about a task force. As a Galway Deputy I call on him to commit the full resources of the State to immediately establish an alternative industry in the Galway region.

We have learned a lesson from this; all along the only people who had access to what was happening were senior executives in the IDA, the Ministers of the Government and the Taoiseach. There was no information if one was not in the Government. Until 4 November my knowledge of this situation was up-to-date; I was in close contact with my colleagues Deputy O'Malley, who, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, was greatly concerned about the threat. I cannot understand why, in the intervening period, no political action seems to have been taken if we are to believe what the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, told the House here earlier. He said that one of his predecessors had gone to America twice. I had to inquire from an official afterwards to whom he was referring; it was Deputy O'Malley. There have been three Ministers in that Department since Deputy O'Malley resigned in early November. [1933] The former Minister, Mr Flynn, would have been informed immediately of the threat to Digital. What did he do? He went to Brussels and was replaced by Deputy Bertie Ahern, who had responsibility for the Department of Industry and Commerce as well as the Department of Finance. He would have been informed immediately by the IDA chief executive of the threat. The Taoiseach would also have been kept informed about this issue because it was so big. When the present Minister came into office he admitted, in the course of a debate in the House, that he had been told the company was under serious threat. Everybody has known about the threat to the computer industry, because of the major revolution there in the past two years. In this case, it boiled down to one question: would the Ayr or Galway factory be closed?

It is a matter of great regret to have to criticise the Ministers who succeeded Deputy O'Malley for not having gone to Boston or not having made arrangements to meet the decision-maker in Digital, Bob Palmer. Surely in modern day business it is essential to know the person making the decision, especially when that decision will have a traumatic effect, not only on employment in one locality in the west but all over the country? I point an accusing finger at the Minister, the Taoiseach and the two previous incumbents in the Minister's office for not having done the obvious thing, built up a relationship with the chief executive of Digital, for not having met him, spoken to him and built up a relationship with him. That was the way in which my colleague, Deputy O'Malley carried out his responsibilities as Minister for Industry and Commerce. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this instance.

The Minister and workers in the factory have confirmed it was understood until January that, on the straight issue of Ayr versus Galway, the Galway plant was the favourite as, on every assessment, it was the more efficient and stronger plant and had greater productivity. What happened to make the company decide to close the Galway plant and transfer its operations to the plant at Ayr? Political intervention led to that [1934] decision. Even though the IDA officials wore a track flying the Atlantic it was far beyond their capacity to salvage the plant and solve this problem; it was a matter for a higher authority. We lost the plant because of the intervention of senior politicians in the United Kingdom. If the Minister wishes to deny that he may, but in my discussions with him, which were confidential until today, I understood that was also his opinion. It is well known and accepted that John Major, Mr. Heseltine and Ian Laing had a role in this issue. Political action on their part in networking the system won the day for Ayr, even though on a one to one comparison the Galway factory stood head and shoulders over it. I went into some detail in my contribution in an earlier debate in outlining the strength, capacity and capabilities of the Galway plant vis-á-vis Ayr.

The workers have been offered a redundancy package of six weeks pay for every year worked in the plant. As 800 people are being thrown out of work, there will be massive problems in the repayment of mortgages. Lump sum payments will be made to the workers on the basis of six weeks pay per year of employment. Will the Minister confirm that tax will not be deducted from that lump sum to enable the recipients to meet their mortgage commitments and to hold on to their homes? Otherwise, there will be a total collapse of the economy in Galway and hundreds of houses will be repossessed. These families will not find alternative employment in the Galway area or any other part of the country which would enable them to continue to repay their mortgages. I ask for special concessions for those families who are faced with this huge calamity.

In future these issues should not be left solely in the hands of the IDA and Ministers. There should be an involvement from the bottom up in this task force. Businessmen and community and industrial leaders in Galway should have a role to play in promoting their town. They should not be left totally dependent on an organisation located in Dublin, with the possibility of no information being communicated to the people in [1935] Galway city. Part of this tragedy is that we were kept in the dark and those who knew about it did not take action in time.

Proinsias De Rossa:  The announcement of the loss of 800 jobs in Digital is certainly a black day for Galway and the country. It is an announcement everybody had feared for some time but hoped would never take place. It marks one of the blackest days in our recent economic history. Even at a time when factory closures are commonplace, the scale of the job losses in Galway is shocking and the potential economic damage to the city and the region is frightening. On a pro rata basis, the loss would be equivalent to the loss of approximately 4,000 jobs in the Dublin area. Of course, the direct job losses are only part of the picture. We cannot even guess at the indirect job losses which will follow in supplier companies, in the motor trade, retail, leisure and transport areas, and construction arising from the lay-offs and the consequent reduced money flow in the Galway region.

On a personal level, we must extend our sympathy to the Digital employees who stand to lose their jobs and who face the dismal prospect of joining approximately 16,000 people already on the live register in the Galway city and county area in the demoralising search for non-existent jobs. While the Digital job losses are clearly a major embarrassment to the new Fianna Fáil-Labour Party Government, we do not take any pleasure from it, the tragedy for Galway is far too serious for that. However, the Government can be criticised for failing to be alert to the Digital plans, for failing to react with sufficient speed and then attempting to cover its political tracks by engaging in an elaborate public relations charade by dispatching the Government jet across the Atlantic.

The responsibility for the Digital disaster does not rest solely with the Government. Responsibility must be shared by successive Governments who have held office over the past decade and who have ignored the conclusions drawn in virtually every study of Irish industry [1936] from Telesis to Culliton. After all, it is not as if the Digital experience was new or that the Government should have been taken by surprise by the decision of a computer giant to dump people on the dole. Digital now takes its place on the role of dishonour alongside Nixdorf, Prime Computers, Wang, Apple, Seagate and others who have been prepared to take the money and run. Will the Minister, in replying to the debate, give some indication of the amount of money provided for Digital in terms of grants, aids and concessions and whether any of this money will be returned? Irish workers have paid a very high price for the failure of successive Governments to ensure the development of indigenous industry and the very heavy reliance on footloose multinationals for job creation. The multinational companies simply follow the market and the money. They will go wherever the profits can be maximised and where they stand to receive the most generous grants and concessions. They have no social conscience and have little regard for the human consequences of closing factories and putting people on the dole. The fact that the competition for the last number of weeks was between the workers in Galway and the workers in Ayr has been lost sight of.

I hope even at this stage that the Government will have learned something from this latest and very painful lesson. First, it should take steps to establish procedures for identifying jobs which could be in danger and ensuring that whatever intervention is possible is taken in advance of irrevocable decisions by company boards in far away places. Secondly, they must now move to implement the recommendations of Telesis and Culliton and ensure the development of indigenous companies based on our natural resources.

I welcome any jobs we can secure from the multinational section, but I question the value of spending so much money on attracting jobs which more and more can be considered only temporary. The Culliton Report stated:

It remains true that, while investment in the form of isolated production units [1937] of foreign multinationals have made enormous contributions over the years, reliance on this source of industrial growth is not enough. If Irish industry is to make the transition to the levels of performance to which we aspire there must be a greater contribution from firms that have deeper roots in the economy and especially from home managed firms.

Deputy Molloy made a comparison between Ayr and Galway and stated the clear lead that Galway had in relation to productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Experience has shown that is a low priority for such multinationals when it comes to choosing between one location and another. I am not arguing for low productivity, I am simply making the point that it is not necessarily the only basis on which such companies make their decision. The fact that Digital has about one quarter of its turnover sales in the United Kingdom was a major factor in choosing Ayr.

There is an interesting article in today's edition of The Irish Times by G.T. Wrixon, the director of the national micro electronics research centre at University College, Cork. He raised pertinent questions in relation to how we should keep those mulitnationals linked to this economy. He said we must ask a series of questions about the type of strategies we need to develop, not just today but for the future and to constantly readjust them. Despite all that, at a time when the Government is forecasting an increase of 26,000 in the unemployment numbers in the next 12 months, the tragedy of Digital is compounded by the failure of the Minister for Finance to produce any significant job creation initiatives in yesterday's budget. Will the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, when he addresses the House in relation to the budget over the next week, indicate if he intends to meet the expected deadline referred to in Culliton, that its main recommendations will be implemented by the end of this year if certain political decisions are taken? Will the Minister indicate if that is the intention despite the fact that yesterday's budget did little in real terms to create a significant number of jobs?

[1938] Workers in Digital who knew their jobs were in danger, and others who spent months or years on the dole who looked in hope to yesterday's budget, must be bitterly disappointed. The sort of minor measures announced yesterday by the Minister might have been appropriate if we had an unemployment level of 50,000 or 60,000, but it now stands at more than 300,000. This is a crisis and the budget has done nothing to reflect the urgency of the position. Deputy Rabbitte asked about our monetary policy and our attitude to the whole question of interest rates. How can we seriously talk, as the Minister for Enterprise and Employment did, about growth in the indigenous sector when we compare our interest rates with those in the United Kingdom? What impact did that differential in interest rates have on Digital's decision to relocate its manufacturing sector?

There is also a need to look at where we can potentially create jobs. In recent years the Government has let 3,000 people go from the local authority area. That is equivalent to three or four Digitals in terms of the number of jobs lost. The Government also needs to examine that area if we are serious about tackling, not just the crisis in Galway, but all over the State.

Eamon Ó Cuív:  Tá mé chun mo chuid ama a roinnt leis an teachta Michael Kitt. The Opposition implied that Government Deputies were quiet while this was taking place. As somebody who devoted a lifetime to job creation I resent that implication because, although we did not receive media attention, we were lobbying to the best of our ability to save those jobs. My heart goes out to the people who will lose jobs in the coming year. I know the trauma and shock they will experience and redundancy payments do not compensate for the loss of a job. Those who will not get alternative employment need ongoing support, advice and help because there is nothing more lonely than to be made redundant, to lose contact with workmates and left to one's own devices. People who have been out of work for a year or so have come to me when it begins to bite. The suffering, loneliness and financial problems [1939] that arise at that stage are what we must prepare for now.

Urgent consideration should be given to people whose unemployment benefit runs out because if they have saved their redundancy money they will be means tested on the residual funds. Will the Taoiseach and the Minister examine that matter and consider the question of ongoing advice? It is very important that a breathing space of one year has been given so that we can get an alternative industry.

Ag deireadh thiar thall, deirim mar dhuine atá i ndáilcheantar Ghaeltachta, go bhfuil monarcha eile, Telemara, nach bhfuil caint ar bith uirthi. Tá áthas orm go bhfuil geallúint faighte go leanfaidh na conarthaí atá acu siúd le Ayr, mar is ag easpórtáil go hAlban a bhíodar, buíochas le Dia. Má tá rud amháin sabháilte inniu, is cosúil go bhfuil na jabanna ar an gCeathrú Rua réasúnta slán faoin socrú a rinneadh.

Mr. M. Kitt:  I also extend my sympathy to the 780 workers who are being let go in Digital. They have served Digital well and Digital has also served Galway and the country well. I know there will be criticism of the Government but the Taoiseach and the various Ministers have done all they can at this difficult time. I thank, in particular, the Minister for Enterprise and Employment for meeting the Galway Oireachtas Members and giving us details of the efforts made by him, the Mayor of Galway and others in this regard. The Mayor of Galway did not think that the trip to Boston was a charade. The Minister told us of the efforts he made in contacting and alerting the two Commissioners, including the Commissioner for competition and I hope those matters will be investigated. It is important to set up county enterprise boards, in Galway in particular, for which a sum of £25 million was announced yesterday. The Minister should again meet the Oireachtas Members from Galway to discuss how the enterprise board in Galway can be helped. It is important that the skilled workforce in Galway is retained. There is a huge facility in [1940] Galway. It was described today on the news as similar in size to four Croke Parks. The facility contains £100 million worth of equipment. It is first class and must be used by the agencies to ensure that the skilled workforce will obtain employment in the city and county of Galway.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn):  I will respond briefly to the sentiments expressed and the points raised. Deputy John Bruton, Deputy O'Malley and Deputy Molloy are well aware from their own experience of Cabinet, particularly Deputies Bruton and O'Malley, of the relationship between the Department of Industry and Commerce, as it then was, and the IDA. The Department would not want to mislead the House by insinuating that the IDA did nothing between 4 November and January and that the IDA's judgment——

Mr. Molloy:  Nobody said that.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Quinn:  I did not interrupt the Deputy, perhaps I have touched a nerve if the Deputy is rushing to interrupt me so quickly. The Deputy's vast experience should tell him that if the IDA felt, on a matter of such importance, between 4 November and 12 January that a ministerial presence was needed in Boston, it would have requested it and that the Taoiseach or the Minister of the day would have responded. I assure this House that the IDA did not, between 4 November and 12 January, request any Minister to go to Boston.

Mr. O'Malley:  Did it make that request after 12 January?

Mr. Connaughton:  What happened after 12 January?

Mr. Quinn:  After 12 January I was kept apprised of events on a daily basis and I responded immediately when I was asked to go to Boston by the IDA.

Mr. Molloy:  Eventually.

Mr. Quinn:  We are not doing this [1941] House any great service by having this kind of debate. The relationship between the IDA and respective Ministers is such that I responded to the crisis in precisely the same manner as no doubt previous Ministers in the same office would have done.

Mr. Kenny:  Why did the Minister not bring Mr. John Major with him?

Mr. Quinn:  I assure Deputies that if the Taoiseach had been asked by the IDA between 4 November and 12 January to travel to Boston he would have done so but he was not asked so let us lay to rest that political charge.

Mr. Connaughton:  The Minister would not have gone either if it had not been for the call from the Mayor of Galway.

Mr. Quinn:  That is not the case.

Mr. Connaughton:  It certainly is.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputies have put questions to the Minister and he has two minutes remaining, please let him respond.

Mr. Quinn:  Thank you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I do not see of what benefit this is to the workers in Galway. The second point I want to make is that we are in danger of making a desperate situation worse by talking the way Deputy Connaughton did to the effect that——

Mr. Connaughton:  Worse, for the 800 workers? Who is to blame? Ask the workers if it could be worse.

Mr. Quinn:  Let me respond——

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  Why did the Minister not learn from what happened at Clonmel?

Mr. Quinn:  If Deputy Connaughton and others believe that workers who have a year in which to look for alternative employment, with the skills they obtained from Digital and the back-up from the IDA to which I referred——

Mr. Connaughton:  We have heard it all before.

Mr. Quinn:  ——have no hope of getting [1942] employment, then they are spreading pessimism and are not holding out any hope to those workers.

Mr. Connaughton:  They did not get jobs in the past.

Mr. Quinn:  The Deputy is not instilling hope by saying——

Mr. Connaughton:  Tell that to the sugar factory workers in Tuam.

Mr. Quinn:  What I am saying to the Deputy is that if that is the——

Mr. M. Kitt:  It was not replaced in Deputy Connaughton's time.

Mr. Connaughton:  The Deputy's party did not replace it, even though it said it would.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Please allow the Minister to continue without interruption.

Mr. Quinn:  The SIPTU official for Galway made a plea to all Members in this House——

Mr. J. Bruton:  The Minister's credibility is not very high.

Mr. Quinn:  ——that it would not serve the workers of Galway to turn this into a political football.

Mr. Connaughton:  To keep away from the Minister.

Mr. Quinn:  I am sorry that the Fine Gael Deputies appear to want to do that. I will turn to two constructive points made by Deputy De Rossa. The first was in relation to the value of the grants to Digital. If one includes the Clonmel plant, approximately £15 million grants in all were given to Digital over a period of time. The wage bill, including that for the software workers from Digital plants in Galway this year was of the order of £43 million so, in terms of value for taxpayer's money, we received more than our share.

Finally, whether Digital was Irish owned or internationally owned, the [1943] technology which it employed and which it is attempting to sell on an international market is no longer capable of finding a market because of the rapid transformation in the industry. The people who know this best are the people in Galway, those at the coalface in Digital.

Mr. Molloy:  The people in Ayr know it.

Mr. Quinn:  The Deputies made a request for local involvement and I want to respond. In the first instance I extend an invitation to any other plants and workers in other factories who use technology in their jobs and who will know before any Member of this House whether their livelihoods are at risk from technological advance, to contact their Deputies, the IDA or their trade union so that we learn from the lessons of recent events. Bemoaning what occurred, in a manner that perhaps could be misinterpreted, is of no consolation to the workers in Galway.

Mr. Connaughton:  The Minister is sympathetic.

Mr. Quinn:  Let me conclude in reference to the statement made by Deputy O Cuív——

An Ceann Comhairle:  Your time is up, Minister. I will allow you a final comment.

Mr. Molloy:  What about the point I made?

Mr. Quinn:  I think I am entitled to injury time.

Mr. Molloy:  Will the Minister reply to the point I raised about the lump sum tax?

The Taoiseach:  The Deputies will not let him speak.

Mr. Quinn:  I tried to respond to all the points raised.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I am bound by the fact that the debate on these statements must now conclude.

[1944]Mr. Quinn:  Let me make one final comment in relation to Deputy Ó Cuív and Deputy Molloy's point concerning assistance to workers. Everything will be done by my Department in relation to placement in alternative employment, including the most favourable tax regime possible to assist them in making the transition to, I hope, other employment. This will be done in consultation with the relevant authorities.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I thank you for allowing me to raise this important local issue in the House. I am disappointed that the Minister for Health, Deputy Howlin, is not present to hear the indignation, resentment and anger that exists in Cashel and in all south Tipperary concerning the shock decision by the South Eastern Health Board to end orthopaedic trauma services at Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel. I urge the Minister on behalf of the people in south Tipperary to refuse outright to ratify this decision, which is unfair, unwise and, indeed, damaging to the future health services in south Tipperary.

We are determined to fight this plan to centralise all orthopaedic trauma services in Ardkeen in Waterford. Regretfully, the decision is merely the continuation of an ongoing policy to undermine the health services in south Tipperary. This policy will reduce the number of health services available to the county. Furthermore, it will compel Tipperary patients to travel unacceptably long distances for urgent medical treatment. It is morally indefensible to dismantle this orthopaedic service, for two reasons. First, the waiting list, even for appointments with an orthopaedic surgeon in Cashel, is now 18 months to two years. Why is the South Eastern Health Board not taking steps to reduce this waiting list instead of abolishing the service and dashing the hopes of those unfortunate people of ever getting an early appointment in this new centralised service?

Second, the necessary infrastructure does not exist to facilitate a centralised service in the south east. The roads and [1945] the transport service are not good enough. As a result of this decision ten beds for orthopaedic care will be transferred from Our Lady's Hospital in Cashel. The chief executive officer stated that the decision was based on quality versus local convenience. Will the Minister agree that the availability of an immediate hospital service which saves lives is essential when there may not be time to travel for quality service? Health service is about people and this decision is a fatal blow, not only to Cashel but to the south east which will be totally dependent on hospital facilities in Waterford. The people of south Tipperary are not prepared to allow their health service to be gradually eroded. I appeal to the Minister to appreciate the concerns of all the people who strongly object to this decision.

I ask the Minister to protect the excellent services provided at present by Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel, and not allow south Tipperary to be stripped of a quality health service, which is not only appreciated but needed.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. O'Dea):  A major review of orthopaedic services in the South Eastern Health Board was undertaken by the Department of Health and Comhairle na nOspidéal during 1991-92. The reason for the review was the general dissatisfaction in regard to the organisation and level of orthopaedic services in the region. Waiting lists for elective orthopaedic surgery were growing because of the volume of trauma cases being dealt with in Kilcreene. It was envisaged that Kilcreene would be solely an elective orthopaedic hospital but, for a variety of reasons, the situation had developed where approximately 60 per cent of the workload being performed there was trauma-related. The review was undertaken to advise the South Eastern Health Board on the organisation of orthopaedic services for the region in the most effective and efficient manner.

The review group, in preparing its report, consulted widely within the South-Eastern Health Board area. Subsequent [1946] to the review group's report, the South-Eastern Health Board engaged in a lengthy and comprehensive series of discussions at local level. The report was discussed at the general hospital programme committee of the board and subsequently at the board meeting of 11 February 1993, where, as the Deputy is aware, a full discussion on all the issues took place.

The review group, in its report of March 1992, recommended that major orthopaedic trauma cases should be brought to Waterford Regional Hospital. It was not envisaged by the review group that all orthopaedic trauma cases would be brought to Waterford.

The Minister for Health was anxious that the board consider all aspects of the review group's recommendations and make a decision based on local needs having regard to the observations of the board's management following their detailed local discussions and consultations.

The review group recognised that there were a number of potential disadvantages to centralisation for the other hospitals in the region and, to minimise such disadvantages and extra travel impositions on patients, the review group recommended that regular and frequent consultant orthopaedic input should be made to Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel, by the consultant orthopaedic staff based at Waterford. The report envisaged that (a) two orthopaedic clinics per week in Cashel would be conducted by a designated consultant orthopaedic surgeon, at least one would be a fracture clinic; (b) in conjunction with these clinics, a ward consultation service in Cashel should be provided for in-patients at the request of locally-based consultants; and (c) the designated consultant orthopaedic surgeon should be responsible for providing an advisory service to Cashel on orthopaedic related problems to the staff of the local general hospital.

All the above elements will be incorporated in the new arrangements following the health board's recent decision. The South Eastern Health Board has also decided that the direct transfer of major orthopaedic trauma to Waterford [1947] Regional Hospital would not be adopted at this time. The board considered that such cases should be brought to the nearest acute hospital for assessment and emergency care in accordance with good medical practice.

The Minister for Health understands that the health board's recent decision, which involves in some respects a modification of the review group's recommendations, was made only after very detailed and careful consideration, and in the best interests of the population it serves.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  The Minister agrees with me.

Mr. D. Ahern:  I thank you, Sir, for allowing me to raise this issue which is a major one in my home town. Scoil Chríost Rí is a Gaelscoil which has been in the area for the last 12 years, it has a complement of about 200 children and eight or nine teachers. The school building consists of prefabs and is unsuitable. Most people would agree that children running from pre-fab to pre-fab for classes is unsatisfactory. A new school has been built beside it and the pupils of the Gaelscoil share a school yard with it. This is a dedicated Gaelscoil which has been brought to the attention of the Minister for Education to note the conditions in it. Last year the teachers were lucky to get a staff room, a converted pre-fab which had been in use for the past 11 years. Recently they were lucky to recruit a secretary from a FÁS scheme but, to accommodate the secretary, they had to discard the toilet facilities in one of the pre-fabs.

I appreciate the constraints on the Estimates but I ask the Minister to give some consideration to including a figure in the Estimates either this year or next to provide a permanent school building on that site. There is a commitment to promote the Irish language and I would have thought there would have been an emphasis on funding for Gaelscoileanna. This school has been awaiting funding for 12 years and the pupils and parents have [1948] been patient over those years. It is only in recent times that they have become more vociferous and we should bear that in mind. They have picketed the Dáil and have been on television. I do not believe that such conditions exist in any other school and I ask the Minister to address this matter.

Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Aylward):  I thank the Deputy for raising this matter and giving me the opportunity of outlining the present position in regard to the proposed new school for an Ghaelscoil Chríost Rí, Dundalk, County Louth.

In 1984 the Department gave the all-Irish stream at St. Joseph's national school, Avenue Road, Dundalk, permanent recognition as an all-Irish school. Presently, the school is being accommodated in prefabricated classrooms on the grounds of St. Joseph's School. The school has a principal and seven assistant teachers and the current enrolment is 211. My Department has approved the provision of a new school. It is proposed to provide eight classrooms and the estimated cost is £400,000. Architectural planning is at an advanced stage and tender documents are being prepared by my Department's architectural staff.

The Deputy will appreciate that each national school authority seeking capital grants from my Department invariably makes the case that its project deserves priority treatment. My task and that of my Department is to allocate the available resources in any one year as fairly as possible to as many schools as possible having regard to the overall restraints.

Because of the other demands from the 150 or so projects at pre-contract stage at the end of 1992 which were deemed to be of higher priority and which had to take precedence, it was not possible to include this project in the national school programme for 1993. When the tender documents are completed by my Department's architectural staff I assure the Deputy that I will continue to consider this project for inclusion in the national school building programme in the light of available resources and other commitment and priorities.

[1949]Mr. Nealon:  The waiting lists at Sligo General Hospital are such that the orthopaedic surgeons there felt compelled, under the new patients charter, to take the very unusual step of writing to the patients on these lists for hip and other operations to apologise for the delays.

They listed five problems preventing more operations, insufficient operating time available; insufficient anaesthetic time allocated to orthopaedics; no provision for additional nursing staff; no plans for a second “clean air” theatre for joint replacements, fracture fixation, and other surgery and no protection of orthopaedic beds to ensure that planned admissions were not cancelled.

They were also hit by the seasonal ward closures in December and in August adding further to the already unacceptable long waiting lists. The Minister may tell us that an extra £20 million has been provided in the budget for the reduction of hospital waiting lists. Presumably he will not tell me about his own mini-budget the previous day raising the hospital charges to pay for this. They were introduced by a Minister who was totally against any charges in principle. What difference will the extra money mean to the health services and the North Western Health Board area? I am told it will be very little.

Will the additional nursing staff be provided to facilitate more operations? Will the extra anaesthetic time be allocated as sought by the orthopaedic surgeons? Will the second “clean air” theatre come? Will the wards be closed down in summer and at Christmas, effectively taking off one fourth of the whole year? My understanding is that the wards will continue to close. Because of the special needs in the Sligo General Hospital area and in the north west, and the aging population there should be a special allocation from the additional money. If we simply get a proportion based on the population then this supposed attack on the waiting list will have little or no effect on those who are waiting two, three or four years for a hip operation. People who are suffering [1950] like that are waiting a long time for the postman.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. O'Dea):  As the Deputy is aware, there has been significant investment in hospital services in the North-Western Health Board region in recent years, I might add, more so than in the case of my health board area.

Prior to 1990, there were two orthopaedic surgeons working in the North-Western Health Board region, both based at Sligo General Hospital.

The North-Western Health Board identified and agreed the need to establish an orthopaedic service in Letterkenny General Hospital. Comhairle na nOspidéal and the Department of Health approved the appointment of an orthopaedic surgeon for Letterkenny and an extra orthopaedic surgeon for Sligo. There are now four orthopaedic surgeons in posts serving that region. Equipping the new 22-bed unit at Letterkenny cost £600,000 and an extra £1 million per year was allocated to run the unit. The orthopaedic unit was opened in April 1992.

In the context of the major new facilities in Sligo General Hospital, additional funding was allocated in 1992 for the further development of a range of services at the hospital, including the expansion of orthopaedic services and the phased development of ENT services. In spite of these significant developments in the North-Western Health Board region, I am aware there are still a number of people having to wait longer than they should for their operations.

As the Deputy is aware also the Government has allocated £20 million for a major action programme to reduce waiting times in the areas of orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat surgery, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery and plastic surgery. The overall objectives is to eliminate waiting lists in excess of 12 months in these specialties and to set a maximum period of six months for children awaiting ENT or eye treatment.

The Minister for Health will announce his decisions in regard to the allocation of the £20 million in coming weeks. The [1951] Deputy can be assured that he will be considering the position of the North-Western Health Board as sympathetically as possible.

Mr. Nealon:  I wish to thank the Minister.

Mr. Nealon:  St. Mary's boys national school, Carrick-on-Shannon has 120 pupils and four teachers. The school building comprises three classrooms and one prefab. By any standards, the accommodation is in a deplorable state of repair. The windows are rotten and unable to retain the glass. The roof of the prefab is leaking. The furniture is antiquated, there is no floor covering. Ventilation in the classrooms is very poor because the windows cannot be opened. The roof of the corridor is leaking and all around there is evidence of rat infestation.

I understand that even the Department of Education accept that the building is not a fit place now for school purposes. Major renovation and extension work is needed. This has been promised, and solemnly promised, particularly at election time. In total frustration at the inaction, the INTO members went on official strike last week, with the full backing of the parents. I understand the Minister has decided to transfer the pupils to vacated classrooms near the girl's national school but I am not sure this will mean amalgamation.

This suggestion to dodge the responsibility of giving adequate school accommodation to Carrick-on-Shannon will not wash. The rooms suggested were vacated because they were substandard. There is no suitable playground and the noise level is excessive because of a major road nearby. One cannot solve one substandard school accommodation problem by simply moving to another location.

The people of Carrick-on-Shannon demand that the promises made be honoured. There is no need to put forward further points to justify their case. The building makes the argument for me and does so eloquently. The Minister of State, who is present, should give a date [1952] when funds will be made available and when work will start on this building.

Minister of State at the Department of Education (Mr. Aylward):  This matter was the subject of a Adjournment Debate in the Seanad last Thursday and also the subject of a parliamentary question today.

I am glad the Deputy has afforded me the opportunity of outlining to the House the position regarding St. Mary's boys' national school, Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim. The present accommodation at this school consists of three permanent classrooms and one prefabricated classroom. The staff is comprised of a principal, three assistant teachers, and its current enrolment is 117 pupils.

On foot of the application which had been made to my Department for the provision of a permanent extension my Department had approved a major building project which would have involved the retention of two of the existing classrooms, conversion of the third classroom into a staffroom/library and the construction of two further permanent classrooms. The estimated cost of the project would be at least £90,000. Architectural planning had commenced and planning permission was received from the local authority.

However, an option which has to be considered at this stage in the light of up-to-date information is whether the school should be amalgamated with the girls national school. This arises in the context of surplus accommodation known to exist in the girls' national school and in the light of projected future enrolments.

Preliminary indications are that probably there would be sufficient accommodation in the convent national school to accommodate, with adaptation and development, the entire boys and girls primary school population in the town.

The Deputy will appreciate that it behoves my Department, in its administration of the capital resources available, to utilise them effectively in providing adequate standards of accommodation for our primary school population. This has to include the full [1953] utilisation of all good accommodation which already exists and which has been provided for in the past by capital allocations from my Department.

My Department must provide facilities in a way that does not duplicate them or result in significant surplus unused accommodation within a short number of years.

Such an approach is a necessary part of the strategy of directing the funds at our disposal to those projects most needed and where justified by a continuing need in future years.

In the light of the foregoing my Department is in consultation with the relevant school authorities in order to decide on the appropriate course of action regarding the provision of primary school accommodation needs for the future in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Mr. Crowley:  I am glad to have the opportunity to raise the question of remedial teachers at Milford primary school, Charleville, County Cork. Perhaps I will be allowed to broaden it because there is not an adequate acknowledgement of the work that remedial teachers do in primary schools. In this school I understand that one-third of the children are in urgent need of remedial teaching. If this facility is not provided now I suggest the children will be deprived in secondary school and will be unlikely to get into third level education. It is not fair, right or just to deprive these children of this important facility. Due to deprivation, unemployment and social problems in the area the number of children in need is substantially higher than the average. The Minister should give approval for a remedial teacher as a matter of urgency. I am not seeking a full-time remedial teacher for Milford or Tullylease but rather part-time teachers for two hours per day. That is not an unreasonable request; it is fair and just and the children of that area are entitled to such a service.

Mr. Aylward:  I thank Deputy Crowley for raising this matter. My Department is currently examining the scope for the employment of additional teaching resources for children with special education [1954] needs. The question of remedial teaching posts will form a key element in this consideration. In this connection the Programme for a Partnership Government provides for the recruitment of 500 remedial teachers by September 1996. I assure the Deputy that the needs of the school referred to by him will be borne in mind when it is next possible to make remedial teacher appointments. I take the point made by the Deputy in relation to the sharing of a remedial teacher.

The needs of the school referred to by the Deputy will also be considered in the context of any extension to the special scheme of assistance for schools designated areas of disadvantage.

Mr. Barrett:  I wish to raise the question of the replacement of the roof at Cabinteely community school. More than two years ago it was agreed both by the school architect and the Department's architect that the roof needed replacing. However, we are waiting since. The estimated cost of this work is approximately £50,000. The mineral felt which was put on the roof in 1978 when the school was built is in need of replacement. Water lodges in the valley of the roof and seeps through to the Art Room. The art teacher has to use a plastic bucket to catch the drips of water. The building has been damaged purely because of neglect and that is a scandal and will cost the taxpayer more money if urgent repairs are not carried out. Two years is long enough to wait for a replacement roof. The school authorities carried out temporary works during the past couple of years at a cost of £5,000, but it is like throwing money out the window because it does not solve the problem. Contractors have been chosen to carry out this work and I ask the Minister to give a commitment that approximately £50,000 will be made available immediately to carry out these urgent repairs.

Mr. Aylward:  I thank Deputy Barrett for raising this matter which was the subject of a parliamentary question.

At the outset I would like to explain that my Department accepts that work is needed to the roof at Cabinteely community [1955] school. The difficulty has been the level of funds available to tackle the huge number of urgent projects needing attention.

The work to the roof at this school will cost almost £50,000 and so the project is quite a significant one. It has been the Department's policy in recent times to attempt to respond to the urgent requirements for classroom accommodation in many areas and accordingly the limited funds available have been devoted to that purpose.

Accordingly, it has not been possible to include the remedial work to the roof at Cabinteely in the 1993 second level capital programme because of other demands, as I have explained, being deemed to be of a higher priority and having to take precedence. The work involved will continue to be considered for inclusion in the programme in the light of available resources and other commitments and priorities. Every effort will be made to accommodate repairs in the current year because of the nature of the repairs involved.

Mr. M. Kitt:  I should like to raise the question of improvements to Kilglass national school, Ahascragh, Ballinasloe, a three-teacher school with 89 children. At present there is a temporary partition in one classroom, resulting in two small classrooms. The proposal is to build a third classroom and to convert the existing three classrooms into two classrooms. There is an urgent need for cloakrooms and toilets also. The estimated cost of the work is in the region of £65,000 but that sum may have to be increased as the project has been under discussion for a number of years. I hope the Minister will [1956] treat this as a priority. There has been much speculation that it will not be dealt with at present. A small library and health room is required also. I hope those elements of the project can be put together and money provided for it in 1993.

Mr. Aylward:  I thank Deputy Kitt for raising this matter.

The improvements proposed to my Department for Kilglass national school consists of the provision of a new permanent classroom, together with staff room and other ancillary accommodation, including a new toilet block, the conversion of two of the existing classrooms and the refurbishment of the existing building.

This project is at an early stage of the planning process. A sketch scheme is currently in course of preparation. When this has been completed the school authority will be advised to seek planning permission from the local authority.

Subject to receipt of planning permission, working drawings will then have to be prepared and a fire safety certificate obtained before architectural planning of the project is concluded. As the physical planning process is unlikely to be completed in the current financial year the question of including this project among the projects approved to date for inclusion in the 1993 national school capital programme does not arise.

However, I wish to assure the Deputy that this project will continue to be considered for inclusion in the programme in due course in the light of available resources and other commitments and priorities.

The Dáil adjourned at 5.20 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 26 February 1993.

[1812]

  14.  Miss Quill    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the effects on the timber industry of the recent currency fluctuations and the decline in the value of sterling; and if he will make a statement on the short term and long term prospects for this industry.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, (Mr. J. Walsh):  The effects on the timber industry of the recent currency fluctuations, particularly the decline in the value of sterling, have been severe. Export markets amounting to nearly £40 million, almost exclusively in the UK, were under serious threat and the domestic market was also experiencing pressure from timber products sourced primarily from Scandanavia.

These difficulties were fully appreciated by my Department and a concerted approach, in full consultation with the Irish Timber Council, was made for special assistance from the Market Development Fund. The fund allocated a total of £2.7 million for the timber sector and, of course, the 10 per cent devaluation of the Irish Pound will also have improved the situation significantly.

I am convinced that the prospects for the industry are good. To fulfil its potential, the sector will have to develop a more export-orientated approach which will involve a certain element of restructuring in order that companies are of sufficient scale to compete at the international level.

  16.  Miss Harney    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the measures, if any, he proposes to take to give effect to the commitment to develop an effective farm retirement scheme.

[1813]

  18.  Mr. J. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many family farm transfers are now being deferred because of the delay in the introduction of the farm retirement scheme; and if he will confirm that all such transfers completed after 1 March 1993 will come within the terms of the scheme when it is ultimately implemented.

  19.  Mr. Rabbitte    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if the Government intends to participate in the proposed EC funded early retirement scheme due to begin in April 1993; if so, the basis on which it will participate; and when he will announce details of the scheme.

  21.  Mr. Flanagan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when it is proposed to implement an early retirement scheme for farmers arising out of the Common Agricultural Policy reform measures; when he will give the details of this scheme; whether money has been allocated in the Book of Estimates for 1993 in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  148.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the minimum size of land holding required by transferees under the proposed farm retirement scheme; and whether there is any percentage restriction on the level of this prior ownership of land in relation to the overall holding to be transferred.

  149.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if there is any proposed upper or lower age limit on transferees of land under the proposed farm retirement scheme.

  150.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if there will be any restriction in the proposed early farm retirement scheme in relation to the length of time a young farmer will need to have owned or leased land before being entitled to take part in this scheme; and if so, the time limit which is being considered.

[1814]

  165.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposed cost of establishing the early farm retirement scheme.

  166.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if, where there is a joint ownership of land between spouses and one spouse only is under 65 years of age, they will be eligible under the proposed farm retirement scheme.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 18, 19, 21, 148, 149, 150, 165 and 166 together.

I expect that the scheme for early retirement from farming under EC Regulation No. 2079/92 will be in operation here, following clearance by the EC Commission, by the end of the summer.

Details of the scheme which I will be introducing are at present being drawn up by my Department but I intend that it will provide attractive financial inducements to encourage farmers to consider early retirement.

The EC Regulation governing the scheme requires a significant increase in the size of agricultural holding of the transferee to improve its economic viability before Community funding will be given. The precise percentage figure which will be regarded as a significant increase has yet to be agreed with the Community. A division of family holdings, however, at a time close to the date of transfer in order to meet the enlargement requirement at the time of transfer would not be acceptable to the Commission as meeting the restructuring objectives of the scheme.

The normal situation under EC schemes is that eligibility is confined to actions taken from the date the measure is put in place in a member state. I am, however, examining this and other aspects such as age requirements for transferees and the situation in relation to joint ownership in considering the details rules for the early retirement scheme as a whole.

An amount of £1 million has been allocated to the scheme in this years estimates [1815] but as the scheme becomes fully operational, significantly larger allocations will have to be made in future years.

  17.  Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny)    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he intends to take the grant for pollution out of suspension where it is has been for over 12 months, since many small farmers cannot afford to do the necessary building work without aid.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The position is that the EC Structural Funds allocated to Ireland under the Operational Programme for the Control of Farmyard Pollution have been fully committed. Consequently, it has not been possible for some time to deal with any further applications under this measure.

However, grant aid for pollution control works continues to be available under the Farm Improvement Programme and over 7,000 schemes of work have been approved under this programme in the past 12 months.

Grant payments to farmers with current approval under the Operational Programme for the Control of Farmyard Pollution of course continue to be paid subject to the approved works being completed to the satisfaction of the Department within the prescribed time. I am continuing to monitor the level of work completion under this measure and it may be possible to re-open the present scheme in the coming months.

I am aware of the importance of the Control of Farmyard Pollution scheme. For this reason, I will be seeking to ensure maximum support for continuation of this measure in the context of Ireland's submission to the EC for a new allocation of Structural Funds.

[1816]

  20.  Proinsias De Rossa    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the implications of the decision of the EC veterinary fund not to provide funds for the planned comprehensive EC funded bovine TB eradiction scheme; the alternative sources, if any, he proposes for funds for such a scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  42.  Mr. Crowley    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when he intends to draw down the EC funding for the TB eradication scheme to improve the scheme and to alleviate hardship to farmers.

  55.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will sanction payment of the full replacement value for stock removed from herds as TB reactors; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  63.  Mr. Clohessy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the plans, if any, he has for a fully coherent four year bovine TB eradication programme.

  135.  Mr. Barry    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the success rate it is hoped to obtain from the new TB bovine eradication scheme, to start in March 1993; the way in which this campaign will be different from all the others, since their introduction in the early 1960s; the amount it is proposed to spend on the scheme; if the proposed scheme is designed to eliminate TB in cattle; the way in which our eradication schemes compare with our European partners; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  182.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    whether all aspects of the TB forum recommendation will be implemented.

[1817]

  183.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if final agreement has been reached with the EC authorities in order to obtain the necessary promised finance for the future TB eradication schemes over the years from 1993 to 1996.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 20, 42, 55, 63, 135, 182 and 183 together.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to implement a coherent four year Bovine TB Eradication Programme with the support of Community funding and subject to the conditions attaching to those funds. Agreement was reached with the EC Commission in regard to the relevant conditions in October 1992. However, because of budgetary limits on the EC veterinary fund delays have arisen in having the programme approved for Community funding. I am pressing for an immediate increase in the level of EC veterinary funding to enable appropriate finance to be made available.

A sum of £43.5 million has been allocated in the Book of Estimates to cover the running costs of the programme for 1993. The exact format of the programme including grant structure of this year's scheme will be determined by the timing of the availability of EC funding.

Most of our EC partners have progressed their eradication programmes to an advanced stage. The broad format of our eradication scheme is similar to those operative in other EC countries.

  22.  Mr. Cox    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, taken to date in co-operation with the Department of Tourism and Trade to implement the commitment to place more Irish sales people in the field to increase exports of sales of Irish goods.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The sale of Irish goods abroad is primarily a matter for individual firms. Within my area of responsibility, my Department provides funds to CBF to back up the marketing efforts of firms engaged in export of beef, [1818] pigmeat and lamb, through a wide range of promotion and market development activities carried out largely by its staff abroad. I am confident that CBF will be in a position to expand these services as necessary to intensify its activities in support of private firms in the years ahead.

In addition, support by the development agencies to individual firms in the food sector as elsewhere is made conditional, in appropriate cases, on the existence of relevant export marketing arrangements set up by the firms.

  25.  Mr. R. Bruton    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason for the delay in bringing forward the legislation to establish the national milk agency; the reason it was not in the schedule of Bills proposed for this session of Dáil Éirean circulated by the Government Whip recently; and in view of the previous Government and Ministerial commitment in this regard he will bring forward this Bill.

  19.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if it is still the Government's intention to establish the national milk agency; and if so, when legislation will be brought forward in this matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 190 together.

It is the Government's intention to proceed with the establishment of the new national milk agency. The legislation providing for its establishment, however, provides also for the abolition of the Dublin and the Cork District Milk Boards. Before proceeding further with the legislation it is my intention to make the necessary arrangements to provide for the future of the staff of these boards and negotiations with their representatives are at an advanced stage.

[1819]

  27.  Mr. Deasy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason for the delay in issuing a file plan folio for a person (details supplied) in County Waterford in view of the fact that the Land Commission records branch was closed for three months from 17th August 1992; if he will ensure that this will issue immediately as it was requested in September 1992 and in view of the person's ill health and his wish to sell the property.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The relevant Land Commission map has been transmitted to the Land Registry which has issued the requested file plan folio.

  28.  Mr. O'Malley    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, which have been taken to date to draw up a comprehensive plan for the development of our natural resources in consultation with the Department of Enterprise and Employment.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Natural resources in the form of the potential of our land to produce agricultural and forestry products fall within my area of responsibility. As regards agriculture, a group consisting of representatives of my Department and of the main farm organisations is drawing up a national development programme under a Programme for Economic and Social Progress commitment and a Food Expert Group is, in line with the recommendations of the Culliton report, drawing up recommendations for the development of the food industry. There are, of course, ongoing programmes of forestry development. In both areas, development will continue to depand heavily on the input of EC Structural Funds. Plans for the uses to which those funds will be put in this country in 1994-1997 are being co-ordinated [1820] between Departments in the context of the community support Framework being drawn up for that period.

  32.  Mr. Shatter    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, he will take to ensure that the 4.5 per cent milk quota cut this year will not be implemented in this country in view of the national dairy situation whereby virtually every creamery has a production level beyond the quota; and if he has made an approach to the EC authorities in this regard.

  152.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will pursue a legal challenge to the proposed permanent cessation of the 4.5 per cent of Ireland's national milk quota by the EC authorities.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 152 together.

There has not been a 4.5 per cent cut in Ireland's quota this year. What is in question is the future treatement of 4.5 per cent of the quota which has been suspended in all member states in part from 1987 and in part from 1988. During the council negotiations which took place last year on the revision of the milk quota regime, I made it very clear that Ireland does not accept that a final decision has been taken on the future of the suspended quota. I indicated then that a decision should be taken on this issue at the same time as the Council decides on quota levels for the coming year, that is, before the end of March 1993. Since then, I have raised this issue both within Council and also bi-laterally with the Commission. I will continue to press strongly for a satisfactory solution in the forthcoming Council discussions. The question of a legal challenge by the Government on this issue does not arise at present.

[1821]

  34.  Mr. Clohessy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the plans, if any, he has to improve the environmentally sensitive areas scheme.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The future of the present pilot ESA scheme which operates in two areas of the country is being considered at present in the context of preparing a new national scheme to give effect to the agri-environmental measure of Common Agricultural Policy Reform. I expect that the new agri-environmental scheme will be in place later in the year.

  35.  Mr. Rabbitte    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    his views on whether the structural problems of Irish agriculture can be overcome by reform of the Common Agricultural Policy; if he intends to formulate a range of long term national policies for agriculture in the interests of the overall development of the economy; and if so, when.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The direction of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy is to move away from market supports for agricultural products and towards providing income supports for farmers. In recognition of some of the structural difficulties associated with agriculture within the European Community in general a number of schemes were provided for which address specific structural problems. These include the early retirement scheme for farmers which will be implemented by my Department.

The Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP) contained a commitment to draw up a development plan for agriculture. This is being done by a group of representatives of my Department and of the farming organisations. [1822] The report of this group is expected within the next few months and the structural problems of agriculture are of course within the group's remit. The report will, I expect, be an important element in the strategy I will then formulate for the agriculture sector in the coming years; that strategy will also take account of the outcome of the GATT negotiations and the availability of EC funds for agricultural development purposes.

  36.  Mr. Moynihan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the total amount paid by his Department for both headage and premium schemes for 1992; the averge weekly payment; and the amount paid from 1 December, 1992 to date.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Some £250 million has been paid by my Department for both headage and premium schemes for 1992 up to 24 February 1993. The average weekly payment since payments commenced on 27 July 1992 is approx £8 million. The amount paid from 1 December 1992 to date for 1992 schemes is £75.94 million.

  37.  Mr. Flanagan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if finance will be made available to the Cereals Association of Ireland immediately to ensure that they can continue their important work and their promotional and marketing efforts of Irish cereals; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The Cereals Association of Ireland is funded by voluntary levies from farmers and the grain grade. In view of budgetary constraints it is not possible this year to contribute funding from my Department to the Association.

[1823]

  40.  Mr. Dukes    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he has to establish a national reserve for the suckler cow quota or ewe premium quota for new entrants; if so, when, and the level at which this will be established; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

  67.  Mr. Connor    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will make a statement on the spare quota in the national suckler cow herd; the way in which this additional quota will be distributed; and whether any such distribution will be weighted in favour of small production.

  133.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will clarify the circumstances relating to the national reserve of ewe premium quota to be established by his Department; the criteria which will be used in allocating this quota; the total amount of reserve for 1993 and 1994; and the way in which applicants wishing to obtain extra quotas can obtain these.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Question Nos. 40, 67 and 133 together.

A national reserve, which will initially amount to about 100,000 ewe premium rights is being established. Of this 35,000 is reserved for producers in the disadvantaged areas and its creation involves no deduction from producers. The balance will be created by deductions from flock owners as follows:

Size of Flock Deduction
1 - 100 Nil
101 - 200 1 per cent
201 - 300 2 per cent
301 - 500 3 per cent
501 - 1,000 4 per cent
1,000 - + 5 per cent

In addition 15 per cent of premium rights transferred without transfer of land [1824] will be added to the reserve on an ongoing basis.

I expect to make an announcement on the size and composition of the national reserve of suckler cow premium rights at an early date.

Details of the priority category eligible to benefit from the reserve and of application procedures will be announced as soon as possible. Consultations with the farm and agricultural organisations will take place in advance.

  41.  Ms Keogh    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will introduce a local appeals system to facilitate the speedy resolutions of problems arising for applicants for premium and headage grants.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  As the Deputy is aware, the premium and headage schemes are administered through a network of local offices throughout the country. A farmer in any given county can appeal his case to his local office in writing or in person and it will be dealt with fairly and sympathetically. In effect, this provides the local appeals system requested by the Deputy.

  44.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the specific training, if any, given to agricultural officers employed by his Department to work in meat factories; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The nature of the work undertaken by agriculture officers in meat plants is such that on the job training is provided by supervisory agricultural officers in conjunction with experienced staff and is organised under the general control of the Veterinary Inspectorate. Formal training courses for these staff are held from time to time in the Department's training centre. In addition special training seminars on various [1825] aspects of the work have been organised over the years.

Recently, staff being newly assigned to meat plants were given a 2 week induction course before being assigned to work with experienced officers. It is intended to expand this training programme to provide ongoing training for existing agricultural officer staff as well as new recruits.

  46.  Miss Harney    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will give a list of services that will be provided through Irish, or bilingually, by his Department in 1993 and by the end of 1994.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  While there are no services provided exclusively through Irish my Department can, as required, facilitate the conduct of its business through Irish. In addition some of the forms issued in connection with disease eradication programmes are bilingual and arrangements are being made to have bilingual forms available for other schemes in 1993 and 1994.

Coiste Forbartha na Gaeilge which has been functioning for some years in the Department organises weekly classes for staff with particular emphasis on offices in the Gaeltacht areas as well as providing dictionaries, books and newspapers in Irish.

  49.  Mr. Cullen    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when it is expected that the expert group on the food industry will publish its report.

  180.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when it is proposed that the food review group report under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress will be completed; and if it will be published.

[1826]

  181.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when the expert food review group under the Culliton report will have concluded its work; and if the report will be published.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 49, 180 and 181 together.

The report of the Expert Group on the Food Industry is expected to be completed within the next month or two. The groups report will satisfy the commitment made under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress and the recommendation in the Culliton report to draw up a development plan for the industry. It is my intention that the report would be published following consideration of it by Government.

  50.  Dr. Upton    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the provisions, if any, which he has taken to protect the public from the toxic effects of pesticides.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  A number of statutory measures are operated by my Department regarding public protection from use of agricultural pesticides.

Under the European Communities (Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Pesticides) Regulations, 1985 to 1992, conditions are prescribed to safeguard the health of the people handling or using a pesticide and to protect against damage to the environment. A pesticide may not be sold on the market unless it has obtained clearance under the regulations.

Maximum levels of pesticide residues are prescribed for a number of areas as a direct protection for the consumer. The relevant regulations are the European Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Fruit and Vegetables) Regulations, 1989; the European Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Foodstuffs of Animal Origin) Regulations, 1988; the European Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Cereals) Regulations, 1988 and the European [1827] Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Feedstuffs) Regulations, 1992.

Regulations are also in operation to prohibit the marketing and use of pesticides which have been found to present unacceptable hazards to human health and/or to the environment. For example, the marketing or use of aldrin, dieldrin, DDT, mercury compounds and others have been prohibited under the European Communities (Prohibition of Certain Active Substances in Plant Protection Products) Regulations, 1981 to 1990.

The overall position relating to pesticide use is continuously monitored both nationally and within the EC. Controls are introduced as necessary in the light of the scientific evidence available.

  52.  Ms O'Donnell    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he has reviewed the operations of the exchange risk guarantee scheme as it is applied to farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  A series of exchange risk guarantee schemes operated during the eighties. They operated to reduce interest costs on the agriculture sector in periods of income difficulties for the sector. The effectiveness of these schemes has been routinely looked at internally and the Comptroller and Auditor General has also commented on them.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government decided to introduce an exchange risk guarantee scheme in December of last year. The manufacturing, tourism and primary agriculture sectors were to be covered by the proposed scheme. The scheme was intended to counteract the negative trading impact caused by the high value of the pound vis-à-vis sterling. Following the decision to devalue the pound the proposed scheme was not implemented in any of the sectors.

The future availability of an exchange [1828] risk guarantee scheme for the agriculture sector will be kept under review by my Department in the light of future developments.

  53.  Mr. Crowley    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if the estimate in his 1993 budget is sufficient to allow all headage payments to be made by November 1993.

  136.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason for the 28 per cent reduction in the 1993 Estimates under Vote 32 M.3.

  137.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the way in which the figure £17.3 million is estimated under Vote No. 32 M.13; and the purpose for which this money is intended.

  138.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the way in which the 1993 Estimate of £31.4 million will be distributed under Vote 32 B.2.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 53, 136, 137 and 138 together.

Subhead B2 Teagasc — grant in aid for general expenses — will be paid to Teagasc in a number of payments throughout 1993.

Subhead M3 — aids to farmers in certain favoured areas — is reduced as a result of the bringing forward into 1992 — by way of a Supplementary Estimate — of £20 million payments due in 1993. When this is taken into account the level of headage payments to be made in 1993 will be similar to that originally provided for 1992.

Subhead M13 — Leader and INTERREG — is intended to fund these schemes pending part recoupment by the EC Commission. The provision is confirmation of the Government commitment [1829] to these rural development initiatives.

  57.  Mr. M. McDowell    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, he will take to simplify procedures for farmers applying for premium and headage grants in 1993.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The Common Agricultural Policy reform package adopted by the European Community last June substantially overhauled the livestock premium schemes. I accept that the new arrangements are relatively complex and that many farmers may have difficulty in coming to terms with them. For this reason my Department with the assistance of Teagasc held a series of public information meetings from mid-January to mid-February 1993 at over 60 centres around the country in order to explain the new arrangements to farmers. These meetings were attended by approximately 25,000 farmers. My Department has also produced a special booklet which explains the details of the new arrangements and the procedures for claiming the grants.

At the Department's request, Teagasc has put in place a package of measures to assist farmers in dealing with the complexity of the new Common Agricultural Policy arrangements while also advising them how to secure optimum income under the various schemes. The extra £1 million which has been provided in the budget to enable Teagasc to extend its small farm development service should contribute significantly to this effort.

The Deputy will be aware that the procedures for claiming the premium and headage grants are largely dictated by EC regulations and audit requirements which are designed to ensure that grants are not improperly paid.

My Department simplified the application procedures in 1992 following consultation with the farm organisations and intends to keep the procedures as simple as possible in the future, while at the [1830] same time meeting the control requirements of EC regulations and auditors.

  58.  Mr. Kirk    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if there is any basis to a report (details supplied) that a common earthworm is under threat; the origin of the flatworm, Artioposthia triangulata, mentioned in the report; and the measures, if any, being taken to deal with the problem.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The terrestial flatworm, Artioposthia triangulata, is a native of New Zealand. Occasional incidences have been reported in Europe, which were presumably introduced on imported plants from New Zealand. The first record of it in Ireland was in a County Antrim garden in 1963. In recent years there has been a number of isolated occurences within the State.

The flatworm feeds on the common earthworm. My Department, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland have been keeping a general monitor on the position relating to the New Zealand flatworm and on its movement. There is no evidence that it has caused any noticeable diminution in the general earthworm population. The position will continue to be kept under observation.

  60.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will introduce a "pay by date" in respect of agricultural grants and subsidy payments thus ensuring that farmers receive their payments in time to run their businesses efficiently; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Payment of agricultural grants and subsidies to farmers is subject to EC Regulations which lay down the conditions under which such [1831] payments must be made. These regulations impose obligations both on the farmers in relation to the type of supporting documentation required and on the member state authorities as regards the level of inspectors and checks required to ensure that the subsidies and grants are not improperly paid. Accordingly, my Department is obliged to satisfy itself that the terms and conditions of the various schemes are fully complied with before it can pay the grants or subsidies to farmers. The time required to undertake these inspections and checks depends on a number of factors, including the number of applications submitted, and the accuracy with which the applications are completed by the farmers themselves.

In addition, disputes between the Department and individual farmers as to entitlement to a grant or subsidy may take some time to resolve, depending on the complexity of the case.

I very much recognise the increasing importance of premium-headage payments in farmers' overall incomes and I am committed to ensuring that all applications for grants and subsidies are processed in the shortest possible time and that payments are made at the earliest opportunity, subject to the time constraints laid down in Community Regulations. I do not believe that setting a “pay by date” would add to that commitment.

  61.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the plans, if any, he has for agriculture with particular reference to job creation prospects which might arise in the event of the expansion of this indigenous industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  In common with other European countries, full-time employment in the agricultural sector in Ireland has been declining in recent years. However, this decline masks a [1832] trend towards greater diversification in the income sources of farm and rural holdings and an increase in the number of farmers engaged in part-time farming.

As the Deputy is aware, agricultural output of a number of products is limited by EC production restrictions, which may increase pressure on farm employment in our main production sectors in future years. To help counteract this, a range of measures are now in place aimed at maximising income and productive employment and stimulating rural development.

Within the operational programme for rural development under the aegis of my Department there is a number of schemes designed to encourage farm diversification and farm-based enterprises. The uptake of schemes to promote alternative farm enterprises, horticulture and agri-tourism has been good to date. Teagasc has a role in promoting these schemes and in providing advice and training to farmers in the areas of produce quality, animal productivity and cost control. The Leader programme is designed to enable groups in rural communities to draw up and implement integrated business plans.

I consider that these measures will help to maintain overall employment in agriculture and in rural areas in future years.

  62.  Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny)    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he has satisfied himself that lodgepole pine and sitka spruce are still suitable for plantation from a commercial point of view; and the plans, if any, he has to accept poplar as a species suitable for grant aid in view of the fact that it matures in 20 years or less.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I am satisfied that lodgepole pine and sitka spruce are suitable for plantation from a commercial point of view.

My Department is examining the position in respect of poplar as a species suitable for grant aid.

[1833]

  64.  Mr. Boylan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the percentage of payments made to farmers under the EC premium schemes in 1992 in the Counties of Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  It is assumed that the Deputy's question relates to the percentage of farmers in Counties Cavan and Monaghan who received their 1992 livestock premium grants before the end of the year.

The reply to the Deputy's question is as follows:

Cavan Monaghan
% %
Ewe Premium Scheme
(1st and 2nd instalments) 98 99
Suckler Cow Scheme
(June/July applications) 71.4 74.3
Special Beef Premium Scheme
(June/July applications) 62 68

Further payments under the suckler cow and special beef premium scheme have been made to farmers in Counties Cavan and Monaghan since the beginning of this year with the result that 70 per cent of farmers in Cavan and 78 per cent of farmers in Monaghan have now received their special beef premium grants. The present position under the suckler cow premium scheme is that 81 per cent of farmers in Cavan and 85 per cent of farmers in Monaghan have now been paid their grants.

  65.  Mr. M. McDowell    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, he is taking to minimise the effect of farm import costs arising from the recent devaluation of the punt.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  As the Deputy is aware, I am precluded from introducing [1834] measures to subsidise the costs of imported farm inputs under Article 93 of the EC Treaty.

However, the agricultural sector was a major beneficiary of the “green pound” devaluation and any increased costs on imports of farm inputs would be very substantially less than the farm income benefits which accrued. The reduction of interest rates associated with devaluation also represents, of course, a considerable benefit to the farm sector.

  66.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he intends to provide any financial aid to help young farmers buy milk quota under the proposed new restructuring scheme to begin on 1 April, 1993.

  188.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the level of EC or Government resources which will be invested in the proposed milk restructuring scheme; and when it will be operative.

  203.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will give details of the proposed milk restructuring scheme which will be introduced in 1993; the priority which will be given to smaller farmers in the reallocation of milk quotas; and the financial arrangements and inducements which will be involved in this scheme.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 66, 188 and 203 together.

I am pleased to announce that there will be a quota restructuring scheme in operation at the end of the current milk year. I have not yet finalised the detailed rules of the scheme, as the issue of a Community subsidy towards the purchase of quota remains undecided.

I have been pressing very strongly within the Council for such a subsidy and will maintain pressure on this issue in the Council during the coming weeks.

[1835] I can at this stage, however, confirm that it is my intention to continue to give priority to deserving categories of producers, including smaller scale producers and new entrants as I have done in the past under the various quota schemes.

  68.  Mr. Cullen    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs    if he will give details of the financial liability incurred by the State arising from a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (details supplied), if this liability includes a sum for accrued interest or legal costs; and if so, the amount; if tax is to be deducted; if so provide details of this; when he expects payment will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring):  In November 1991 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found that Ireland was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case referred to by the Deputy. In a further judgment awarding just satisfaction to the applicants under Article 50 of the Convention which was delivered on 1 February 1993, the court made an award of £1,362,655.11.

The award is made up of £1,200,000 to the second corporate applicant and to the individual applicant jointly in respect of pecuniary damages, £50,000 to the individual applicant in respect of non-pecuniary damages, £42,655.11 for domestic costs and expenses and £70,000, together with any value-added tax that might be due, for the costs and expenses of the Strasbourg proceedings.

The sum of £1,200,000 in respect of pecuniary damages includes interest since July 1992 at the rates applicable to Irish court proceedings. The State has three months from the date of the judgment in which to pay the amount awarded by the European Court of [1836] Human Rights. Any tax liability that might arise out of the court's award would be a matter for the Revenue Commissioners.

  69.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs    the reason for the 66 per cent reduction under Vote 38 F Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring):  The amount provided in the North-South and Anglo-Irish Co-operation subhead, subhead F, of the Department of Foreign Affairs Vote is used to assist organisations involved in reconcilation work and in efforts to create better understanding between people in both parts of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.

An amount of £115,000 was allocated originally to the subhead last year as the 1992 Estimates provision for this purpose. The provision in this year's Estimates is exactly the same. However in the course of last year, certain costs relating to the Anglo-Irish political talks which took place during 1992 were also ascribed to the subhead. The ascribing of these costs to subhead F in 1992, which accounts for the variation between the original allocation and the provisional outturn figure of £335,000 for that year, had no bearing on the amount which was actually available for distribution as grants under this subhead in 1992. The amount available for distribution in 1993 will be exactly the same.

I commend very valuable activities of organisations engaged in North-South and Anglo-Irish co-operation. Despite the current very difficult budgetary situation, the 1993 allocation to the subhead has been maintained at the level of the original 1992 Estimates provision. I very much hope that the budgetary circumstances next year will be such as to permit an interest allocation to be made to this subhead.

[1837]

  70.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs    the reason for the 213 per cent increase under Vote 39.G in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993.

  71.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs    the reason for the 71 per cent increase under Vote 39.D in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring):  I propose to answer Questions Nos. 70 and 71 together.

The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase Ireland's Official Development Aid to 0.2 per cent in 1993 and by 0.05 per cent each year thereafter so as to make steady progress towards achieving the UN goal of 0.7 per cent of GNP. In compliance with this commitment, the Book of Estimates contains provisions for £53 million for Official Development Assistance.

The programme includes as a priority for an expanded aid budget the intention to expand the scope of activities of the Agency for Personal Service Overseas to increase the number of Irish people working in developing countries. Accordingly, Subhead D of vote 39 — Agency for Personal Services Overseas (Grant-in-Aid) — has been increased.

The programme also includes as a priority an increase in voluntary contributions to UN agencies such as UNICEF, UNDP, and UNHCR. Accordingly, Subhead G of Vote 39 — Voluntary Contributions to Development Agencies — has been increased.

  72.  Mr. Boylan    asked the Minister for Finance    if he intends to have the Houses of the Oireachtas made more accessible to people who have physical handicaps, in particular those people confined to wheelchairs especially in view of the commendable appointment of a disabled person to the Senate.

[1838]Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  I am pleased to say that following recent work, most areas of the Houses of the Oireachtas complex are now accessible to disabled people. Means of access to any remaining areas are currently being examined. Work will be completed shortly on the ramps to the public entrance where a new lift serving the Visitor's Gallery has been installed.

  73.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Finance    if it is proposed to increase the firearms licence fee.

Minister for Finance (Mr. Ahern):  In formulating the budget, which I presented to Dáil Éireann on 24 February 1993, I decided not to make any changes in this licence fee at this time. The charge in question was last increased in 1992.

  74.  Mrs. Owen    asked the Minister for Finance    if rangers from the wildlife service attend all hare coursing meetings; if not, whether they are obliged to attend; and if so, the reasons some meetings may not have been attended.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  The regulation of coursing meetings is not a function of the Wildlife Service and consequently Wildlife Rangers are not obliged to attend all coursing meetings. They are employed to enforce the provisions of the Wildlife Act, 1976, and where resources permit, attend coursing meetings to ensure that there are no breaches of that Act. However, attendance at any given meeting is subject to operational requirements.

  75.  Mrs. Owen    asked the Minister for Finance    the plans, if any, he has to amend the Wildlife Act, 1976 with regard to hare coursing.

[1839]Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  Coursing is regulated by the Irish Coursing Club under the terms of the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958. The Wildlife Act, 1976 provides for regulation of the Hunting Season during which coursing may take place and for the capture of live hares for coursing purposes.

There are no proposals to amend the Wildlife Act in relation to these matters at this time.

  76.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the basis on which it is deemed necessary to increase Vote 7 in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993; and the counties which received grants in 1992.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern):  I assume that the Deputy is referring to grants to small projects made in the counties of the Western Development Area from the Western Development Fund. Approvals to the relevant counties in 1992 were as follows:

£
Donegal 69,965
Sligo 62,377
Leitrim 40,900
Cavan 55,223
Monaghan 82,075
Roscommon 43,460
Longford 51,375
Mayo 95,330
Galway 191,550
Kerry 63,990
West Cork 103,281
Clare/West Limerick 30,032

These approvals relate to Subhead G of the Vote for my Department.

Subhead F provides for the administrative expenses of the Western County Development Teams. The increase in the provision for 1993 arises from increases in the cost of these expenses and the remuneration of certain members of the county development staff.

[1840]

  77.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the purpose for which the sum of £1.25 million is provided in 1993 under Vote 7.H in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993; and the purpose for which £977,000 was spent in 1992.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern):  Following the termination of the Exchequer funded special loans scheme in 1980 a scheme (referred to as the Development Finance Scheme) was agreed between ICC Bank and the Department of Finance.

Under the scheme, the Exchequer accepted 40 per cent of the credit risk on certain high risk loans, (for industrial development purposes in the manufacturing and tourism sectors), advanced by ICC Bank from its own funds. On normal commercial criteria, ICC Bank would not otherwise have advanced loans of the amounts involved to their clients.

The scheme was terminated at the end of October 1990.

The expenditure of £977,000 in 1992 covers the losses attributable to the Exchequer, incurred by ICC Bank under this scheme for the year ended 31 October, 1991. The 1993 provision of £1,250,000 provides for the losses attributable to the Exchequer which are expected to arise under the scheme for the year ended 31 October 1992.

  78.  Mrs. Owen    asked the Minister for Finance    if he will give details of the contract with a company (details supplied) and the annual payments each year since 1989.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern):  The contract to which the Deputy refers was signed on 9 May 1989 and has effect until 30 April, 1999. It provides for the operation by the company in question of the prize bond scheme on behalf of the Minister for Finance. In particular, it requires the computerisation of the prize bond records and the automation of the prize bond draw. Both of these projects have been completed.

The contract also provides for specified payments to the company to cover the costs of administration and marketing, [1841] and for an incentive commission in the event of net sales of prize bonds exceeding a given amount. These payments (exclusive of VAT) in each calender year since 1989 were as follows: 1989 (1 May to 31 December), £1,525,000.00; 1990 (full year), £2,086,000.00; 1991 (full year), £2,244,000.00; 1992 (full year), £2,360.930.72.

  79.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Finance    the cost to date of inquiries being conducted under the aegis of his Department.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern):  There are no inquiries being conducted under the aegis of the Department of Finance.

  80.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Finance    if provision has been made for the funding of game development.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  Grants for game stocking and development have not been made available since 1982. The National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Office of Public Works has no proposals at present to re-introduce such grant schemes.

  81.  Mr. E. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Finance    if he will make a tax refund available in one lump sum to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern):  I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer has been requested to provide certain confirmation to the inspector of taxes. When this has been provided the inspector will review the liability and any refund due will be paid in one lump sum.

[1842]

  82.  Mr. E. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Finance    when a refund of PRSI contributions will be made to a person, details supplied, in County Cork.

Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern):  I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that no claim for a refund has been received by them from the person concerned.

If the person is in employment and contributions have been deducted in error during the 1992/93 year, which ends on 5 April, 1993, then the employer is liable to make any refund due for that year. Refund of contributions deducted in error for prior years may be claimed from the Department of Social Welfare, PRSI Refund Section, Gandon House, Dublin 2.

In the event that the person is not in employment but is in receipt of a pension then the paying authority is liable to make any refund for the year ending 5 April, 1993. Refund of contributions deducted in error from a pension in prior years should be claimed from PRSI Refund Section, Collector-General's Office, Baggot Bridge House, 85/86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2.

PRSI contributions deducted during the current year (6 April, 1992 to 5 April, 1993) from a person who is under 15 years should be refunded by the employer.

Application for a refund for prior years should be made to PRSI Refund Section, Department of Social Welfare, Gandon House, Dublin 2.

Contributions deducted, in error, at the Pension class (K1) of PRSI should be refunded by the paying authority in the current tax year and may be claimed from PRSI Refund Section, Collector-General's Office, Baggot Bridge House, Dublin 2 for prior years.

[1843]

  83.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the sites and buildings which are listed for purchase in 1993 with the £350,000 allocated under Vote 10.D in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  There are no specific sites or buildings listed for acquisition in 1993. The provision in Vote 10.D of the Estimates is a general one for acquisitions which may occur throughout the year.

  84.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    if he will give details of the visitor centres which will receive support in 1993 from the sum of £120,000 provided under Vote 10.C in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993.

Minister of State (Mr. Dempsey):  This sum relates to the provision of miscellaneous services and publication material at all of the major parks and national monuments sites nationwide and Dublin Castle. The provision is not specific to any particular site or visitor centre.

  85.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the way in which the £19.4 million provided under Vote 10.E in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993 will be spent.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  This sum will be expended on the continuation or completion of existing, ongoing projects and programmes. Generally, the projects concerned are related to the Garda Building and Employment Exchange Programmes and major projects at the Botanic Gardens and the National Gallery.

  86.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the national parks and wildlife services to which the £8.695 million provided under Vote 10.G in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993 will be distributed.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  This sum is an overall provision which is included in the [1844] Estimates in respect of existing maintenance programmes and some capital works at national parks, nature reserves etc. nationwide.

  87.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the way in which and where the £5.7 million provided under Vote 10.H in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993 will be spent.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  The sum is an overall provision which is included in the Estimates in respect of existing maintenance and new works programmes on the inland waterways system, including the Shannon Navigation.

  88.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Finance    the way in which and where the £17.69 million provided under Vote 10.J in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993 will be spent.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  This sum is an overall provision which is included in the Estimates in respect of maintenance and works programmes at National Monuments sites and national heritage properties nationwide.

  89.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Finance    if he will provide the finance for the drainage of the River Suir; if a cost benefit analysis for this work has been undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  The Suir catchment area is included at No. 15 on the priority list of major catchments on which the national arterial drainage programme is based. It is one of a number of schemes currently at design stage in the Office of Public Works. It is, however, a very large catchment requiring a considerable design input. When the design is completed consideration will be given to undertaking a cost benefit analysis.

[1845] In the circumstances the question of providing finance for the drainage of the Suir does not arise at this time.

  90.  Mr. Molloy    asked the Minister for Finance    the amount of annual rental to be paid for additional Departmental offices being acquired for the new Department of the Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey):  It is not the practice to disclose the amount of commercial rents payable in respect of individual properties. It should be noted that the offices for the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht are being provided from within the existing holdings of the public sector.

  91.  Mr. D. Ahern    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    if his attention has been drawn to the anomaly in the Social Welfare system whereby a father of children in a joint custody situation is not entitled to claim part children's allowance in respect of his children; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  Entitlement to payment of child benefit is governed by regulations which confer the entitlement on the child's mother in the first instance. However, if she so wishes, a mother can nominate the child's father, or another person, to receive child benefit on her behalf. In situations where the couple are living apart entitlement is given to whichever parent the child is residing with.

This situation is in line with the recommendation of the First Commission on the Status of Women (1972), which took the view that the best way of ensuring that child benefit was used for the benefit of the child was to have it paid to the mother. The priority given to the mother is not regarded as anomalous in situations where a separated couple have joint custody of the children.

[1846]

  92.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    if, in view of the terror and fear of senior citizens living alone, he will consider allowing a live-in companion, without interfering with the pensioner's social welfare entitlements; and if he will make a statement in the matter.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  Allowances such as free electricity, free natural gas, free telephone rental and free television licence are subject to a “living alone” condition. However, the living alone condition allows certain persons to live with the pensioners without affecting entitlement. For example, in the case of the free electricity allowance, a dependent spouse or child or, in the case of an invalid, a carer may live with the recipient. In addition, pensioners over 80 years of age may have somebody return to live with them without affecting their entitlement to free electricity, free natural gas or free television licence.

Any further extension of the scope of the present arrangements would have cost implications and would have to be considered in the context of available resources.

  93.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    if he will give details of the £13.25 million under Vote 40 subhead J in the 1993 Estimates for Public Services.

  94.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    the reason for the increase of 9 per cent in Vote 40 subhead F in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

  95.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    the reason for the increase from £719 million in 1992 to £777.1 million in 1993 under Vote 40 subhead E in the Estimates for Public Services.

[1847]Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 93, 94 and 95 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

(1) Subhead J refers to the family income supplement scheme which provides cash support to workers bringing up families on low wages. The 1993 Estimate provides for payments to an estimated 8,000 recipients on average in 1993.

(2) Subhead F refers to lone parent's allowance, which provides for meanstested payments to parents bringing up children on their own. The increase is due mainly to an increase in the estimated average number of recipients in 1993.

(3) Subhead E refers to Unemployment Assistance payments, including payments to smallholders. The increase is due mainly to an increase in the estimated Live Register of the unemployed in 1993.

The Abridged Version of the Estimates for Public Services, published on 17 February, 1993 does not include the cost of improvements announced in the 1993 budget.

  96.  Mr. E. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    the reason free telephone rental allowances has not yet been credited to the telephone account (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  The person concerned has been in receipt of free telephone rental allowance since she obtained a telephone in September 1988. However, following a recent examination of its records, Telecom Éireann has informed my Department that free telephone allowance amounting to £33.30 was not credited to her telephone account during the three-month bill period from 1 May, 1990 to 31 July, 1990 due to a change in her telephone number at that time.

To ensure that the error is corrected with the quickest possible effect my Department will issue a payment of £33.30 directly to the person concerned.

[1848]

  97.  Mr. E. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    if he will investigate the entitlement of a person (details supplied) in County Cork to a contributory old age pension.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  The person concerned had been in receipt of a pro rata retirement pension which was based on his combined Irish and British social insurance contributions. He was subsequently transferred onto an old age non-contributory pension as this is payable at a higher rate in his particular circumstances.

His entitlement to a pro-rata contributory pension has been re-examined in the context of the proposed increases from July of this year. The non-contributory pension will continue to be the most favourable pension in his case.

  98.  Mr. E. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    if he will approve an application for free telephone rental allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Cork.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  The application for free telephone rental allowance which the person concerned had submitted to my Department in November 1992 is no longer effective, as he died in January 1993. From the information available to my Department about his household circumstances prior to his death he would not have been entitled to the allowance. His wife, who has not reached pension age yet, is not eligible for the allowance in her own right.

  99.  Mr. E. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Social Welfare    the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has not yet been awarded a free fuel allowance.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods):  The person concerned was awarded a free fuel allowance with effect from 15 January 1993.

A book of orders has been issued to her nominated post office payable from that date.

[1849]

  100.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Justice    if she will make a statement on the general effectiveness of the small claims courts since their inception; the total number of cases handled by the small claims courts; the number of locations in which the courts are operating; and if she will extend the network.

Minister for Justice (Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn):  The small claims procedure has been in operation on a pilot basis since December, 1991 in four locations — the Four Courts and Swords in the Dublin Metropolitan District, Cork and Sligo.

Up to 31 January, 1993 a total of 886 applications were received and 612 cases settled by the Small Claims Registrars.

To assess the effectiveness of the procedure I am currently reviewing all its aspects including the monetary limit and types of cases dealt with and the areas served by the procedure.

Until this review is completed I will not be in a position to deal with the Deputy's question concerning extension of the facility.

  101.  Mr. Deenihan    asked the Minister for Justice    the extent of the development of voluntary age card schemes throughout the country in order to curb the problem of underage drinking.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  I am informed by the Garda authorities that there were 47 identity card schemes in operation throughout the country as of June, 1992.

  102.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Justice    the reason for the 53 per cent increase under Vote 19 subhead C in the Estimates for the Public Services 1993.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  Subhead C of the Vote provides £5.920 million in 1993 for criminal legal [1850] aid, an increase of £2.052 million on the provisional outturn for 1992 of £3.868 million. This increase is necessary to ensure the proper operation of the scheme which is an essential ingredient in the criminal justice system.

The increases reflects: (i) an anticipated increase in the number of legal aid certificates which the courts will grant in 1993, over the number granted in 1992; (ii) the additional cost in legal aid fees in 1993 associated with the operation of the Criminal Evidence Act, 1992; (iii) the cost in 1993 of increases in legal aid fees granted to solicitors in 1992, including the cost of arrears; and (iv) the cost of applying Programme for Economic and Social Progress related increases to solicitors' and barristers' legal aid fees from the appropriate date in 1993.

  103.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Justice    the manner in which and where £10.625 million will be spent in 1993 under Vote 21.B in the Estimates for the Public Services 1993.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  £10.625 million has been provided in subhead B of the Prisons Vote for 1993 to cover the cost of capital and maintenance works to be undertaken in prisons and places of detention and also for the rental of storage accommodation. This allocation will provide for the upgrading of security, services and the improvement of facilities generally to be undertaken in all prisons — mainly in Mountjoy, Portlaoise and St. Patrick's Institution — including the provision of in-cell sanitation in certain areas.

  104.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Justice    where £2.3 million will be spent in 1993 under Vote 22 subhead B in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  The £2.3 million in the Courthouses Subhead of the Court Vote, Vote 22.B, will be spent as follows:

[1851] £
1. (i) Capital works 1,250,000
(ii) Maintenance 671,000
2. Heat, light, fuel 220,000
3. Furniture, and fittings 100,000
4. Miscellaneous 59,000
Total 2,300,000

A number of projects are under consideration for capital works.

  105.  Mr. R. Bruton    asked the Minister for Justice    the number of persons who were imprisoned during the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available for non-payment of debt; the average sentence involved; the average sentence served; and if she will make a statement on the other non-custodial penalties which could be introduced to deal with such cases.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  The number of persons committed to prison for failure to comply with a court order to make payments in discharge of a civil debt was 219 for the 12 month period from 24 February, 1992 to 23 February, 1993 and the average sentence imposed by the courts was 24 days. The information sought by the Deputy as to the average period spent in custody by such persons is not readily available and could not be obtained without an inordinate expenditure of staff time. It should be noted that the average period spent in custody by debtors would be less than the average period of committal imposed by the courts because, in practice, some debtors make payment either on committal or shortly after committal.

In order that the impact of the foregoing on prison accommodation may be properly understood I should explain that the number of persons committed to prison for non-payment of debt represents a small fraction only of the total committals to custody in any year. Such [1852] persons occupy less than 1 per cent of prison space on an annualised basis.

Nobody may be committed to prison merely for non-payment of debt. Commital usually takes place only after all other avenues to enforce the debt have been exhausted. In fact a person may be committed to prison only for failure to comply with a Court Order to make payments of a debt, an order which may be made only after examination of means designed to establish that the person can pay. Only those with the capacity to make payment may be committed. The question of introducing a system of attachment of earnings to secure payment of debts is under examination at present. Any proposals which may emerge will be announced in the usual way in due course.

  106.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Justice    her views on whether existing legislation is satisfactory in view of recent evidence of internationally organised commercial tug of love mercenaries, specialising in child abduction; the plans, if any, she has for strengthened legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  I am informed by the Garda authorities that they have no knowledge of such groups operating in this country, but, if the Deputy has information on the subject, the Garda authorities will be glad to receive that information.

The Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act, 1991 gives the force of law to two international conventions designed to deal with problems arising in relation to the abduction of children across international frontiers. The conventions came into effect for this country on 1 October, 1991. These provisions, which have been operating satisfactorily, are in addition to criminal law provisions relating to kidnapping.

[1853]

  107.  Mr. D. Ahern    asked the Minister for Justice    if she will give details of the efforts being made to find a suitable location for the proposed new Garda station in Drogheda, County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  Various sites have been examined as possible locations for the proposed new District Headquarters at Drogheda. The original site, purchased by the Office of Public Works for this purpose, was found to be the most suitable. Plans for the new station are being drawn up at present. It is not possible to give a precise date for commencement of work on this project — this will depend on available finance — but I can assure the Deputy that the project is one of high priority and that there will be no avoidable delay.

  108.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who was employed on a community employment development programme is not entitled to a Christmas bonus on the basis that he does not reside within the designated area, although all others on the development programme received this bonus for doing the same work; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn):  Special measures were introduced on a pilot basis in the twelve partnership areas established under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress to assist the long term unemployed residing in these areas. Only persons from these areas participating in the special measures including the community employment development programme — CEDP — which replaced the social employment scheme in the partnership areas, retained their secondary [1854] benefits including the Christmas bonus. Persons from outside the areas participating in the CEDP were not entitled to retain their secondary benefits.

However, the Government has decided that the terms of payment for new entrants to the CEDP should be those of the social employment scheme. The reintroduction of the higher terms of payment will be considered in the context of the Community Support Framework for 1994-1999.

  109.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    the reason for the 21 per cent reduction under Vote 34.J; and if he will give details of the effect of this.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn):  The principal determining factor in arriving at departmental allocations for 1993 is the constraints inherent in the overall budgetary situation. This accounts for several areas of my Department's Vote, including Vote 34.J — the Science and Technology Development Programme — which are the subject of a decreased allocation.

I should, however, point out to the Deputy that the reduction in the voted amount for the S&T Development Programme is offset by an additional £13.416 million which is being directly co-financed, for the first time this year, by the EC Commission. This additional funding is being provided for a new measure under the Structural Funds-supported Operational Programme for Industry and will assist in-company research and development projects. When this allocation — which is not provided from within the Vote — is taken into account, the total expenditure on the S&T Development Programme amounts to £34.381 million, an increase of 30 per cent on the 1992 outturn.

The general effect of the reduction in the voted amount will be to reduce the level of ongoing activities under the programme and to delay the commencement of certain new activities planned for 1993.

[1855]

  110.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    the reason for the 54 per cent reduction under Vote 34 subhead G; and if he will give details of the effect of this reduction.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  The apparent reduction of 54 per cent exaggerates the actual reduction between the two years in that the equivalent allocation for 1992 included a special once-off allocation of £300,000 to enable the Irish Productivity Centre to carry our a major restructuring which was considered necessary by the management, in addition to a provision — £25,000 — for special pay increases brought forward from this year.

Therefore the real reduction in the 1993 allocation is of the order of 25 per cent. This is in line with the policy of phasing out Exchequer funding for the centre over a three-year period in order to allow it to operate on a wholly commercial basis.

  111.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    if he will give details for the 110 per cent increase in Vote 34 subhead X5.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  The increase of £1.923 million in Vote 34.X5 relates to the employment subsidy scheme. Payment of the subsidy is made to employers in arrears after 13 and 34 weeks with the final payment made after 78 weeks. The scheme is terminating at the end of this week but the allocation for 1993 is required to meet commitments to employers in respect of those already recruited under the scheme.

  112.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    if he will give details of the 14 per cent increase in Vote 34 subhead X4.

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn):  The increase of £10.543 million in the allocation for the social employment scheme — Vote 34.X4 — will allow an average participation of 13,500 people [1856] on the scheme in 1993 compared with around 12,000 in 1992.

  113.  Proinsias De Rossa    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    if he will increase the allocation for emigrant advisory services abroad in view of the continuing high numbers of Irish people living abroad who wish to retain their links with Ireland with a view to eventual return; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn):  My colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has overall responsibility for Irish citizens abroad. My responsibilities relate to the welfare of Irish workers in Britain and to the general question of free movement of workers within the EC.

The only funds available to my Department for assisting Irish workers abroad are allocated for the purpose of alleviating the problems and hardships encountered by some Irish emigrants to Britain. These funds are very specifically targeted at problem areas.

I am pleased to say that the sum allocated has been maintained at £500,000 this year, despite the reduction in emigration and the difficult Exchequer position.

  114.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment    the funding which is available for training and social employment schemes in 1993; if he will extend these schemes or introduce new schemes to further encourage employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn):  A total of £149.265 million in Exchequer funding has been made available to FÁS in 1993 of which £83.811 million has been allocated for the social employment scheme. This amount, together with EC funding of £97 million [1857] approximately, will enable the provision of about 50,000 opportunities on FÁS programmes this year. Average participation in training will be 14,500 which is on a par with last year's outturn. The funding available for the social employment scheme represents an increase of about £10.5 million on the 1992 expenditure level. This will allow average participation on the scheme of 13,500 as against an average of 12,000 in 1992.

The broad thrust of yesterday's budget was to generate economic growth leading to the creation of sustainable employment. In particular the jobs fund for which £250 million is being provided in 1993 is designed to promote recovery and job creation. In addition, the Government is pressing ahead with the establishment of the county enterprise partnership boards. An allocation of £25 million is being provided for the boards which will support local initiative and development through assisting the start up of small enterprises. The boards will also initiate activity under a nationwide series of community development programmes.

  115.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for the Environment    the total number of applicants who are currently awaiting driving tests; if he will give comparative figures for October 1989, October 1986 and October 1983; if he has satisfied himself with existing arrangements; and the proposals, if any, he has to alter these.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  Following are the figures requested: February 1993, 30,363; October, 1989, 50,049; October 1986, 22,716; October 1983, 3,957.

The exceptionally low figure for 1983 was due to the greatly reduced level of applications in the period 1980 to 1983 following the “amnesty” for provisional licences in 1979 and the fact that the “accompanied” rule for provisional licence holders did not apply during that period.

The average waiting period for a test, nationally, is now eight and a half weeks, [1858] compared to 34 weeks in October, 1989, 14 weeks in October, 1986 and seven weeks in October 1983. Persons who genuinely need a test quickly can normally be accommodated. I am satisfied, therefore, that the present situation is satisfactory and that no changes are necessary at this stage.

  116.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for the Environment    if he will introduce legislation to ensure that newly qualified drivers are prevented from driving powerful cars above 1.3 litres, and be required to display a P plate for a probationary period.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  The introduction and enforcement of restrictions on driving licences on the lines suggested is not considered to be either practicable or necessary. Such restrictions are not required by the EC Directive on driving licences.

  117.  Mr. Bradford    asked the Minister for the Environment    if his attention has been drawn to difficulties experienced by householders in the Fermoy town area, County Cork due to the inadequate water supply in the locality; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that lack of a proper supply is hindering further industrial development and expansion in the locality; the proposals, if any, he has to rectify the situation as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  I am aware that water pressure problems are experienced in high level areas of Fermoy and that overall supply is finely balanced in relation to demand. Monitoring results indicate that the quality of water supplied is satisfactory. I have requested Fermoy Urban District Council to provide details of quantified industrial/tourism related water demands with a view to assessing the need for an [1859] extension of supply. The submission of this information is awaited.

  118.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for the Environment    the position regarding the group sewerage scheme grant application of persons (details supplied) in County Wexford; the amount of grant approved in this case; and when payment will be issued.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  This application is being processed and a decision regarding payment will be made as soon as possible.

  119.  Mr. McCormack    asked the Minister for the Environment    the present position regarding the group scheme at Oisce, Camas Uachtair, County Galway; when finance will be allocated for this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  My Department has asked the group, in the interests of securing a viable source for its water supply, either to find an alternative source to that now proposed or to negotiate more satisfactory abstraction arrangements in relation to this latter proposed source.

  120.  Mr. McCormack    asked the Minister for the Environment    the proposals, if any, there are for the provision of an adequate water supply to Athenry town, County Galway; when he will sanction the schemes as presented by Galway County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  Proposals to extend the mid Galway regional water supply scheme from Derrydonnell to Athenry are under [1860] consideration in my Department. Galway County Council has been requested to submit contract documents for site investigation works. The proposals will be further considered when these documents are received.

  121.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for the Environment    if his Department provides grant aid for houses purchased on Bull Island, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg):  The only grant available for the purchase of houses is the £2,000 new house grant, which is payable to first-time purchasers of new houses where the conditions of the grants scheme are fulfilled.

  122.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for the Environment    when the local authorities will be informed of their water and sewerage grant payments under Vote 25. D of the Estimates for Public Services, 1993.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  My Department is completing work on the 1993 water and sanitary service capital allocations, which I will notify to local authorities as soon as possible.

  123.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for the Environment    when the local authorities will be informed of their road works grant under Vote 25 subhead C.1 of the Estimates for Public Services, 1993.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  The determination of the 1993 road grants is being finalised and I hope shortly to be in a position to notify local authorities of their allocations.

[1861]

  124.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for the Environment    the way in which and where the allocation under Vote 25 subhead D5 in the Estimates for Public Services, 1993 will be spent; and the reason for the 202 per cent increase in this.

Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith):  Vote 25, Subhead D5, provides for an allocation of £1,869,000 in respect of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environment Sub-Programme of the 1991-1993 Operational Programme under the EC STRIDE initiative. The major part of the increase is due to the anticipated expenditure on the Environmental Protection Agency which, it is intended, will be established in the near future.

  125.  Mr. D. Ahern    asked the Minister for Defence    when the Old IRA death grant will be paid in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Andrews):  The pensioner referred to died on 19 March 1992. In subsequent correspondence with a member of his family, this Department indicated that, when the Grant of Probate of the pensioner's will was extracted, it should be forwarded to the Department. Payment of any moneys due would then receive attention.

The Grant of Probate has not yet been received by this Department but, if the pensioner's family can forward a receipted bill for funeral expenses, payment of a funeral grant will be arranged.

[1862]

  126.  Mr. Gilmore    asked the Minister for the Marine    the name(s) of the person(s) paying for the radio mast which is being erected at Loop Head, County Clare; the cost of the land on which it is being erected; and if he will comment on claims that the UK authorities declined on scientific and health grounds to erect this mast in Cumbria.

Minister for the Marine (Mr. Andrews):  I would refer the Deputy to the Adjournment Debate on Wednesday, 17 February when I dealt at some length with the Loran C proposal.

The total capital expenditure on the European Loran C system will amount to £19 million of which Ireland's net share will be £1.5 million. 50 per cent and 5 per cent of the gross cost of the Irish station will be met by the French and Dutch Governments respectively. The main equipment manufacturer has also agreed to rebate the cost of construction in Ireland by a substantial amount. The possibility of some Community funding under the Operational Programme on Peripherality is being pursued at present.

I am advised that the total cost of acquiring land from a number of landowners was of the order of £360,000.

The UK authorities had originally intended joining the North West European Loran C chain but subsequently decided for financial considerations to accept an offer from Racal Decca to continue using the existing Decca navigation system until at least 1998. I am advised that the UK Government did not reject Loran C on scientific, environmental or health grounds.

  127.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for the Marine    the way in which £2.896 million provided under Vote 30 subhead F1 in the Estimates for Public Services for 1993 will be spent.

Minister for the Marine (Mr. Andrews):  The provision in question relates to expenditure on Marine Research and Development by the Department.

This expenditure relates to the nonpay costs arising from ongoing regulatory and research programmes undertaken by the Fisheries Research Centre in relation [1863] to sea fisheries, inland fisheries, aquaculture and marine environment.

The provision also reflects this year's gross funding for the Department's measures under the Marine sub-programme of the STRIDE, Science and Technology for Regional Innovation and Development, Operational Programme for Ireland, 1991-93. This expenditure, which is 75 per cent funded by the European Regional Development Fund, covers (1) the upgrading of equipment, expertise and facilities at the Fisheries Research Centre to support the development of the fishing and aquaculture industries; (2) the provision of specialised equipment for the national research vessel Lough Beltra; and (3) the establishment of a national centre for the management and verification of marine data.

  128.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for the Marine    if County Meath will benefit from the £780,000 provided under Vote 30 subhead D1 in the Estimates for Public Services, 1993.

Minister for the Marine (Mr. Andrews):  Subhead D1 of my Department's vote refers to Exchequer aid provided to commercial harbours scheduled under the Harbours Act, 1946. There are no scheduled commercial harbours in County Meath.

  130.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, he is taking at EC level to ensure the survival of the pig production sector; and if his attention has been drawn to the current historically low prices of pig meat.

  173.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he or the EC Commission have to introduce an APS scheme for the pigmeat sector.

[1864]

  174.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he or the EC Commission have to increase export refunds in relation to pigmeat.

  176.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, Córas Beostoic agus Feola have to ensure there is some recovery in pig meat prices through stronger promotion, at home and abroad, of Irish pigmeat products.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 130, 173, 174, and 176 together.

Because of the current depressed state of the EC market for pigmeat, I have raised in the Council of Ministers the question of an increase in the level of export refunds and the introduction of a scheme of aid for private storage. The Commission have undertaken to monitor the market situation closely with a view to taking whatever remedial action is necessary.

Coras Beostoic agus Feola, has been carrying out a special radio and television promotion campaign on the home market, in addition to intensive promotional activities on export markets. The competitiveness of the pigmeat sector on export markets has been improved by the recent devaluation of the Irish pound.

  132.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will allow an early application under the ewe premium scheme for 1993 in order to maximise the benefits to farmers so that ewes which would be culled later in the year could benefit.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The closing date for the receipt of applications under the 1993 ewe premium scheme is 12 March, 1993 which is, of course, just over a fortnight's time. Later in the year I will be [1865] reviewing our experience of the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy Reform measures and in that context I would hope to be able to agree to earlier dates applying in future years.

  139.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason for the 35 per cent increase under Vote 43 subhead C in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The main reason for the increase is the additional provision for new planting by the private sector in 1993. Provision is being made for the grant-aiding of over 12,000 hectares in 1993 compared to just over 9,400 hectares in 1992. Increased provision is also required for second instalment grants and farmer premium payments.

  140.  Mr. Ellis    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will issue a land deed in respect of a farm allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This holding was vested on 13 January 1992 and the documents lodged with the Land Registry for registration.

  141.  Mr. Ellis    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will have arrangements made for payment of a farm grant to a person (details supplied).

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Clerical staff have been temporarily withdrawn from a number of Farm Development Service Offices including Cavan and transferred to livestock schemes to assist with the [1866] significant additional work arising from the increased payments to be made under the Common Agricultural Policy reform measures. This is causing some delays on other work but is a temporary measure only and is essential if the new arrangements are to be put in place for this year's schemes.

The payment referred to by the Deputy will be dealt with at the earliest opportunity when the staff are assigned back to their normal duties. The extra money provided in the budget to augment resources available to this Department to deal, inter alia, with the operation of the new schemes should ensure that the position on the other schemes gets back to normal at an early date.

  142.  Mr. Ellis    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will issue deeds in respect of lands for a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This holding is one of a number that have been scheduled for vesting. However, having regard to the large number of cases and the complexity of the work involved it is not possible at present to say when vesting will take place in this case. The process will be expedited as much as possible.

  144.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the average farm income per annum for each of the years from 1988 to 1992; and the way in which this compares to the average industrial wage.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The following is the information requested:

[1867] Estimated Average Income from Farming Average Industrial Wage
£ £
1988 7,441 10,862
1989 7,282 11,283
1990 6,682 11,740
1991 5,955 12,265
1992 7,057 12,817
(preliminary) (preliminary)

  146.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the level of reduction in Ireland's national milk quota since 1984.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Ireland's national milk quota has been reduced by approximately 2.6 per cent since 1984. A further 4.5 per cent approximately of our national quota remains temporarily suspended.

  147.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will pursue with the EC authorities the question of APS for cheddar cheese; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  In November 1992 I made a strong case to the EC Commission for the introduction of a scheme of private storage aid for Irish cheddar cheese. Since then, I have continued to press for this and will continue to do so as long as the need for such a scheme persists.

  151.  Mr. J. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, being taken by ERAD in view of scientific research relating to the connection between the infection and spread of bovine TB and badgers; the number of badgers killed; and the manner in which they are killed.

[1868]Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  It is now widely recognised that badgers play a role in the transmission of Bovine TB and there is a growing body of scientific evidence to support this opinion.

With regard to control, badgers are a protected species under the Wildlife Act, 1976, and may only be removed under licence. Where my Department is satisfied that there is a probable link between badgers and an outbreak of bovine TB in cattle application is made to the Wildlife Service of the Office of Public Works for a licence to remove badgers for post-mortem. Applications are considered in the context of an agreed programme of research aimed at determining what role the badger plays in the transmission of bovine TB. Badgers are removed by shooting and are brought to the most conveniently located veterinary laboratory for post-mortem examination and disposal. The overall position nationally is that 1,547 badgers were removed for research in 1992.

There are a number of ongoing research projects including the quantifying of the number of badgers in the country and the incidence of TB in the badger population as well as examination of the extent to which the removal of badgers influences the level of bovine TB. It is planned to commence a feasibility study shortly into the development of a vaccine for use in badgers and possibly other species.

  155.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he has to link the rates of headage payments to increases in either the consumer price index or social welfare increases, in view of the failure to increase them in recent years.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The rates of headage payment for cattle, sheep, goats and equines were increased in 1992 by percentages ranging from 5 per cent in [1869] the case of sheep to 25 per cent in the case of cattle.

The question of further increases in payment rates will be considered in the context of the reorganisation of the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government and taking account of the possibilities under the new round of Structural Funds.

  156.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason he left the December Council of Agriculture Ministers' meeting to return to Ireland.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  At the request of the Taoiseach, I temporarily returned to Dublin on 16 December for consultations with him in regard to matters of acute national importance, including matters affecting the future development of the agriculture industry. During my short absence, the policy position I had defined for Ireland's interests at the Council was conveyed by the Secretary of my Department, who acted in my place and with my full authority and that of the Government. The Council session was in recess for a large part of that day for bilateral meetings and I returned to Brussels that same evening to attend the bilateral meeting scheduled for the Irish delegation and remained there until the Council concluded its business on 17 December 1992.

  157.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he has to ensure that the 50 per cent discount on Land Commission annuities will be made available to all farmers, including those who have had difficulties in clearing their arrears.

[1870]

  158.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will allow the benefits of the discount package on Land Commission annuities to be brought forward so that payments in the latter half of 1992 and the first half of 1993 will benefit from the reduction.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Question Nos. 157 and 158 together.

The Land Commission annuity discount package announced on 22 September 1992 will be available to all farmers.

Arrears of annuity, if any, will be added to the discounted buy out price giving the total amount necessary to buy out the annuity.

Farmers making payments since 22 September 1992 are being given the benefits of the discount package. Those farmers wishing to buy out their annuities have been quoted the May-June 1993 buy out figures so that the 50 per cent discount applying on those dates could be availed of by them. Those paying instalments of their annuities are being given credit for those payments in order to reduce the buy-out figures for their annuities.

  159.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if it is proposed to set up any form of land agency or authority as was promised by the Minister of State in the debate in Dáil Éireann at the time of the dissolution of the Land Commission.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  As promised in Dáil Éireann in the course of the debate on the dissolution of the Land Commission the Expert Review Group comprising representatives of my Department and the Farming organisations which has been convened under the auspices of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress has been asked to examine the question of establishing a body to monitor overall developments in relation to land use. The matter is still being considered by the Group.

[1871]

  160.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he has to transfer to Teagasc functions carried out by his Department in relation to different aspects of rural development.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I have no such proposals at present. Teagasc is already involved in my Department's Operational Programme for Rural Development through the promotion of the diversification measures and the provision of the farm training elements of the Programme.

In addition, Teagasc personnel are involved in the operation of the EC LEADER programme through their participation in some of the approved groups.

  161.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if it is still his policy to establish An Bord Bia.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I consider that there is a strong case for establishing a single food promotion agency. However, I propose to await the report of the Expert Group on the Food Industry before reaching a final decision in the matter. The report of the Expert Group is expected to be completed within the next month or two.

  162.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will consider pursuing with the EC authorities the establishment of a marketing and distribution fund for Ireland in relation to the increased sale of Irish beef products in EC supermarkets, especially on the Continent in view of Ireland's peripherality.

[1872]Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I intend, in accordance with the Programme for Government to make maximum use of the resources to become available under the new EC Structural Funds regime to develop increased sales of Irish food abroad including sales of beef to Continental markets.

  163.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the detailed changes promised in general terms in the Programme for Partnership Government 1993-1997 in relation to eligibility for the agriculture installation aid for young farmers in the context of labour units.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The Scheme of Installation Aid for Young Farmers is operated under EC Regulation No. 2328/91. The Regulation sets down a minimum labour requirement of 1 Man Work Unit (MWU) at the date of setting up or within two years thereof.

My Department is at present examining various elements of the Installation Aid Scheme including the Man Work Unit requirement with a view of ensuring a more effective availability of the measure.

  164.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when it is proposed to establish the new horse racing authority; and when the legislation in this regard will be published.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I expect that a Bill on the establishment of a new horse racing authority will be published next autumn and that the new structure will be in place in early 1994. I have appointed an interim committee, representative of the Racing Board, the Governing Bodies, the Association of Irish Racecourses and my Department, which is [1873] intended to be a focus for the industry's input into the drafting of the new legislation. The committee will deal also with practical arrangements for the new structure and for other related matters.

  167.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    whether a retiring farmer who plants his land with trees will be entitled to receive the annual forestry premium in addition to the EC pension under the proposed farm retirement scheme.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Council Regulation 2079/92, instituting a community aid scheme for early retirement from farming, does not provide for the payment of forestry premia in addition to early retirement pensions to farmers transferring land under the early retirement schemes. Forestry premia are to offset losses of agricultural income which is the same objective as the early retirement pension. The transferee may, however, receive these premia.

  169.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the situation in relation to Teagasc advisory service charges; and the steps, if any, he is taking to minimise increases, particularly to developmental categories of farmers.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  In the context of the efficiency plan for Teagasc, I approved, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, increased charges to farmers for certain advisory services. These charges came into effect on 1 November 1992. The efficiency plan contains a number of elements which are designed to ensure the long term viability of the organisation and provide the agriculture and food industry with the most relevant services in a cost-effective manner.

[1874]

  171.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he has to change the regional research structure of Teagasc to give it greater national co-ordination.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Any re-organisation of the structure of Teagasc is, in the first instance, a matter for the body itself. Recently the authority approved an efficiency plan which is designed to make the body financially viable in the long term while providing the most relevant services in a cost effective manner.

  172.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if his attention has been brought to the current difficulties in relation to heavy lamb sales; and if it is possible to introduce an APS scheme to ensure that these hoggets are sold off the market before the spring lamb trade commences.

  175.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps, if any, Córas Beostoic agus Feola are taking to promote additional sales of lamb in order to ensure that the current trade of heavy lambs is more buoyant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 172 and 175 together.

I am aware of the difficulties referred to by the Deputy in relation to sales of heavy lambs.

While Ireland has been eligible for every monthly tender for aid to private storage during 1992, tenders received from Irish traders amounted to only 524 tonnes in that year.

Córas Beostoic agus Feola (CBF) has in place a comprehensive promotional programme for lamb on both the home and the export markets. On the home market, the ongoing promotional programme includes television, radio and [1875] press advertising. On export markets, CBF has a continuous market development programme for the French market, our principal export outlet, as well as a market diversification programme aimed at the Mediterranean region. CBF has also targeted the British and other Northern European markets for further development.

CBF has been particularly conscious of the prospect of increased supplies of heavy lamb at the beginning of the year. On 6 January, CBF met with producers and procesors as a result of which an action plan was put in place to identify new outlets for heavy lambs in overseas markets and to ensure orderly marketing of any increased supplies.

  177.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proportion of the next tranche of EC Structural Funds which will be absorbed by the agricultural and food sector; if the Government has made any decisions in this regard; and if not, when decisions are likely to be made.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  No decision has yet been made as regards the apportionment of the next round of Structural Funds. The position is that the various proposals for Structural Funds' assistance are still being considered in the context of finalising Ireland's national development plan which will be submitted by the Government to the EC Commission within the next two to three months.

  179.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if all 1992 direct income aids have been paid to farmers; and if not, when all headage and premia payments will be finalised and issued.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The present [1876] position is that over 93 per cent of applicants under the disadvantaged areas schemes (cattle, beef, cow, equine and sheep headage) have been paid their 1992 grants. A similar situation applies in the case of payments to June-July 1992 EC suckler cow premium scheme applicants while 85 per cent of June-July 1992 special beef premium scheme applicants have now been paid. Some 98 per cent of sheep farmers have been paid the first and second instalments of the 1992 EC ewe premium.

In all, £250 million has been paid to farmers to date under the various 1992 headage and premium schemes.

Apart from the special beef premium scheme, most of the cases still awaiting payment are the subject of queries which are being followed up. Every effort will continue to be made to clear up the remaining eligible claims under all schemes as soon as possible.

December 1992 applications for special beef premium and suckler cow grants are being processed and I expect payments to commence after Easter.

  184.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when it is proposed to introduce the necessary legislation to increase the penalties and fines in relation to the illegal use of substances such as angel dust.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The draft Bill is being finalised at present and will be introduced shortly.

  185.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason there was a cut in case in EC supports; and if he will ensure these are maintained in future.

[1877]

  186.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason there was a cut in skimmed milk powder EC supports; and if he will ensure that these are maintained in future.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  I propose taking Questions Nos. 185 and 186 together.

The levels of EC aid paid on casein and skimmed milk powder are set by the EC Commission. As part of a recent review of the market situation for skimmed milk, the EC Commission made certain alternatives in the scheme for incorporation of skimmed milk powder in calf feed and in the arrangements for the advance fixing of export refunds on skimmed milk powder. These changes did not involve reductions in the levels of aid payable.

As part of the same review, the level of aid payable for casein production was reduced from 7 ecu/100kg of skimmed milk used to 6.3 ecu/100kg despite strong objections from Ireland.

  187.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the steps he is taking to ensure that Ireland does not exceed its milk quota levy this year and does not have to pay a super levy liability.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Under the EC milk quota system super levy is payable once milk deliveries in a given milk year exceed the national quota level. Responsibility for remaining within our quota is a matter for the dairy industry itself. The current year does not end until 31 March next, and so action can still be taken by producers to reduce their potential liability. It is essential that producers should remain in close contact with their purchasers over the coming weeks to ensure that everything possible is done to avoid exceeding our national quota.

[1878]

  189.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if it is the intention of the EC authorities that quotas in any sector or all sectors will be internationally tradeable; and if he will make a statement in relation to the Government's position in this matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  There are no proposals from the Commission to make quotas in any sector internationally tradeable and I am not aware that the Commission have any plans in that regard. It is not clear either that there is any significant demand in the Community for such an approach. The issue of an Irish position on the matter does not, therefore, arise.

  191.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will give details of the new proposals for the identification schemes for livestock, animal passports and farm registration systems which are likely to be implemented.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Council Directive 92/102/EEC of 27 November 1992 sets down minimum animal identification and registration requirements. In brief, these include that: all member states must maintain a register of all holdings containing cattle, sheep, goats and pigs; farmers must maintain records of animals on their holdings and movements on and off their farms; animals must be identified in such a manner that it is possible to trace back to their farm of origin.

The implementation dates for the Directive are 1 October 1993 (bovines), 1 January 1994 (pigs) and 1 January 1995 (sheep and goats).

My Department is in the process of making the necessary arrangements to implement the Directive.

[1879]

  192.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will clarify the situation in relation to the future of the National Dairy Council, its proposed future financing; and the level of State aid, if any, intended to be given to ensure that it continues its important work.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The principal source of funding for the dairy promotion and publicity campaigns carried out by the National Dairy Council has been the EC co-responsibility levy. Following a decision by the Council of Ministers, this levy will be abolished with effect from 1 April 1993. While there are funds available from the current year's levy receipts to finance a further campaign by the NDC, alternative arrangements must be made thereafter.

While the valuable role of the organisation is recognised there are no plans for a State contribution to the operation of the NDC. The promotion of dairy products is primarily the responsibility of the dairy industry itself and I understand the NDC is currently discussing its future financing with the industry.

  193.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will extend the closing date for applications for the 1993 suckler cow scheme to December 1993.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  My Department intends to accept applications for the suckler cow premium scheme during the months of June and November 1993. It is not possible to have the second application period in December because of the new requirements in the EC Regulations that all applications for the scheme must be submitted during a six month period.

[1880]

  194.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the proposals, if any, he has to ensure that the upper limit of 90 head of cattle in relation to beef premia eligibility is raised.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The 90 head limit was provided for in the Common Agricultural Policy reform agreement reached by the Council of Ministers last June. Proposals by any member state to re-open an issue so recently agreed upon as part of a complex package would have little chance of success.

  195.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the effects of the recent green pound devaluation; whether he has satisfied himself that this fully compensates for the losses experienced by farmers; and the reason the level of green pound devaluation was not at the same rate as the currency devaluation.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The green pound devaluation of 8.2 per cent secured by Ireland with effect from 3 February has effectively resulted in an increase in national currency terms of 9 per cent in agricultural support prices, which will undoubtedly result in a considerable increase in returns to Irish farmers this year which will help compensate for losses experienced in the recent years. I am happy to report that already farmers are experiencing improved trading conditions as prices paid to producers are already on the increase. During the next 12 months further benefits will accrue to producers as the various subsidies and premia payable under the Common Agricultural Policy are increased by about 9 per cent in Irish pounds. In a full year I expect that the effects of the green pound change on incomes in the agriculture, food and forestry [1881] sectors should amount to around £150 million.

It is clear that the benefit for farmers are considerable and even taking into account an increase in the cost of imported inputs, the net effect will be very positive in terms of farm incomes.

The green pound was not devalued to the full extent of the devaluation agreed within the ERM. In conformity with the Community's agri-monetary rules a 2 per cent devaluation option, which must be exercised within 12 months from 3 February was retained. I took this decision in the interests of the longer term development of the Irish food industry. It is in my view important to ensure that the new support prices do not tilt the balance too much in favour of intervention as against sales to the market. For this reason a full devaluation was not sought and it is my view that our competitive position in the market has been greatly enhanced by this decision. I have undertaken to keep the position under constant review in the months ahead.

  197.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he has satisfied himself that the necessary regulations are in place to ensure that Ireland avails fully of the additional suckler cow quota of 63,000 cows for small producers; and if not, the steps, if any, he will take to ensure this.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The relevant EC regulation provides that any unused portion of this additional quota will revert to the national reserve for allocation to priority category producers.

  198.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a new five year development programme will be announced for the horticultural sector in conjunction with An Bord Glas.

[1882]Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The current development programme of An Bord Glas extends to the end of 1993. I understand that the board is preparing a further programme for post 1993. I am not in a position to state when the new programme will be available.

  199.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of a cattle headage grant and a suckler cow grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The applications of the person named for grants under the 1992 cattle headage and suckler cow schemes are being processed at present and if found in order payments will be made shortly.

  200.  Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if he will investigate the delay in payment of a cattle headage grant to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The person named is not an applicant for grants under the 1992 cattle headage scheme in the more severely handicapped area. He is, however, an applicant for grants under the 1992 beef cow scheme in the less severely handicapped area. His application is being processed at present and if found in order payment will be made shortly.

  201.  Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when ewe headage grant will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Payment of the first and second instalments under the 1992 ewe premium scheme and the full [1883] grant under the 1992 sheep headage scheme has already been made in 1992 to the person named.

The third and final instalment of the 1992 ewe premium scheme together with the additional premium agreed by the EC Council before Christmas will be paid to all farmers next month.

  204.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason headage has not been granted to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The person named applied under the 1989 EC scheme of compensatory allowances in respect of Forestry.

Paragraph (3a) of the terms and conditions of that scheme state that: “The scheme will apply only to individual natural persons permanently engaged in agriculture who were in receipt of 1986, 1987 or 1988 grants under the sheep headage scheme and equines headage scheme or beef cow scheme in the disadvantaged areas”.

Because the person named did not receive cattle or sheep grants under the above schemes in the years in question, it is regretted that he is not eligible for the compensatory allowance in respect of affected land.

  205.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not received cattle or suckler cow grant payments.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person's applications for grants under the 1992 cattle and equine headage and special beef premium schemes are being processed at present and if found in order payments will be made shortly. His December 1992 application for grants under the EEC suckler cow premium scheme will be processed in due course.

[1884]

  206.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be allocated an increased sheep quota.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The relevant EC regulations provide for ewe premium quotas to be based on the number of ewes on which a producer was paid the ewe premium in 1991, provided that the producer also applied for the premium in 1992.

The person named meets both of these conditions and will be granted a quota based on the number of ewes on which he was paid premium in 1991, less a deduction for the national reserve. However, the EC regulations also provide for the establishment of both a national reserve and a special reserve for the disadvantaged areas for allocation to certain categories of sheep producers. When the criteria for the allocation of these reserves to Irish sheep producers have been finalised it will be open to the person named to submit an application to my Department, along with supporting documentation, seeking an allocation from the reserve quotas.

  207.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be allocated a sheep quota.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The person named is not entitled to a sheep quota because he did not apply for the ewe premium under the 1991 and 1992 ewe premium schemes. However, the EC regulations provide for the establishment of both a national reserve and a special reserve for the disadvantaged areas for allocation to certain categories of sheep producers. When the criteria for the allocation of these reserves to Irish sheep producers have been finalised, it will be open to the person named to submit an application to my Department, along [1885] with supporting documentation, seeking an allocation from the reserve quotas.

  208.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when he will provide clerical staff for the farm development office in Cavan in order that typing and processing can be carried out in relation to the various grants awaiting attention; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The position is as set out in the reply to question No. 381 on 10 February 1993.

  209.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason for the delay in the payment of a beef grant to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person was paid his grants under the 1992 special beef premium in mid-February 1993.

  210.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the number of townlands in South Tipperary which are under appeal to the disadvantaged areas appeals tribunal; the name and electoral division in which each townland is located; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The total number of townlands in South Tipperary which appealed their non-inclusion in the disadvantaged areas is 414. A list of the district electoral division in which the townlands are situated is attached. The disadvantaged areas appeals panel is currently [1886] analysing survey dates in respect of all townlands under appeal.

South Tipperary — District Electoral Divisions Submitting Appeals.

Anner Graigne
Ardmayle Graystown
Ardsallagh
Kilcooly
Ballingarry Kilcornan
Ballybacon Kilfeale
Ballycarron Killaloan
Ballyclerahan Kilsheelan
Ballygriffin Kiltinan
Ballyporeen Kilvemnon
Ballysheehan Knockgraffon
Bansha
Bruis Lattin
Burncourt Lisronagh
Carrick Beg Rural Magoran
Cashel Rural Mortlestown
Clogheen Mullinahone
Clogher
Cloneen New Birmingham
Clonoulty East Nodstown
Clonoulty West
Oughter Leage
Colman
Coolagarranroe Peppardstown
Cooleagh
Shronell
Drangan Solloghodbeg
Fennor Thomastown
Tipperary Rural
Gaile Tubbrid
Garrangibbon Tullaghmelan
Golden Tullamain

  211.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when a control of pollution grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This grant has been paid.

  212.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when a beef subsidy will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[1887]Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person was paid her grants under the 1992 special beef premium scheme in mid-February 1993. Her December 1992 application for grants under the special beef premium scheme will be processed in due course.

  213.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when a beef subsidy and suckler cow subsidy will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This applicant's 1992 beef cow and equines headage and suckler cow premium schemes grants are being processed at present and if found in order payments will issue shortly. His December 1992 special beef premium scheme application will be processed in due course. He did not apply under the June 1992 special beef premium scheme.

  214.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry,    when a beef premium for June 1992 will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person was paid his grants under the June 1992 special beef premium scheme in mid February 1993. His December 1992 application for grants under the special beef premium scheme will be processed in due course.

  215.  Mr. E. Kenny    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when cattle headage will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person's application for grants under the 1992 cattle and equine headage and suckler cow premiums are being processed at present and if found in order payment [1888] will be made shortly. He did not apply for grants under the 1992 special beef premium scheme.

  216.  Mr. Molloy    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the measures, if any, he proposes to introduce to protect the environment from pollution of agricultural origin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Grant aid for pollution control works continue to be available under the farm improvement programme operated by my Department.

In so far as the operational programme for the control of farmyard pollution is concerned, the position is that the EC Structural Funds allocated to Ireland under this measure have been fully committed, and it has not been possible to deal with any further applications under this scheme for some time. It may, however, be possible to re-open the scheme in the coming months. In any event, I will be seeking to ensure maximum support for continuation of the control of farmyard pollution scheme in the context of Ireland's submission for the next round of Structural Funds.

My Department is currently drawing up a scheme to give effect to the Agri-Environment element of Common Agricultural Policy reform. The aim of this measure is to aid farmers who undertake to engage in farming practices compatible with the requirements of protection of the environment and maintenance of the countryside.

  217.  Mr. Noonan (Limerick East)    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    the reason a suckler grant has not been paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  Further investigation [1889] is necessary to determine if the person named is eligible for grants under the 1992 suckler cow premium scheme.

  220.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of his cattle headage grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The application of the person named for grants under the 1992 cattle headage scheme is being processed at present and if found in order payment will be made shortly.

  221.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of his suckler cow grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person was paid his grants under the 1992 suckler cow premium scheme in mid-February 1993.

  222.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of his cattle headage grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person was paid his grants under the 1992 cattle and equines headage and special beef premium schemes in early February 1993. My Department is awaiting documentation in connection with his application for grants under the 1992 suckler cow premium scheme and when this has been received the question of payment of grants to him under this scheme will be considered further. His December 1992 application for grants under the special beef premium scheme will be processed in due course.

[1890]

  223.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of his suckler cow grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  The person named is not a 1992 suckler cow premium scheme applicant.

  224.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of a suckler cow grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This person's application for grants under the 1992 suckler cow premium scheme is being processed at present and if found in order payment will be made shortly.

  225.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry    when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment of a beef premium grant.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh):  This applicant's 1992 special beef premium scheme grant is being processed at present and if found in order payment will issue shortly.

  226.  Mr. Sargent    asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade    his views on whether five year plans and targets address the need for a more long term national tourism strategy; and if he will, as a matter of priority, commission a long term national tourism plan of this type.

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. McCreevy):  The current five year plan for tourism expires this year. I am at present examining proposals from a number of representative bodies, tourism agencies and the recent report of the Tourism Task Force on the future development of Irish tourism. This work is being done as part of the preparation of a new plan for the sector up to the end [1891] of 1977 and among its priorities will be the achievement of Government growth targets as set out in the Programme for Partnership Government.

The next tourism plan will again take account of the role to be played by EC Structural Funds in tourism development. It will also have regard to more long term strategic objectives for Irish tourism and to the furtherance of such objectives.

  227.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade    the reason for the 104 per cent increase in grant-in-aid under Vote 35 subhead C. 2 in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. McCreevy):  The sub-head in question covers the provision of grant-in-aid to An Bord Tráchtála to facilitate the making of payments in the current year under the market development fund scheme. The increase arises from the ongoing approval of companies and the phasing of payments to firms over the period October 1992 to March 1993.

  228.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade    the extent to which the agriculture and food sector benefited from the market development fund.

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. McCreevy):  As Minister for Tourism and Trade, my responsibility is to determine policy measures which assist the export of Irish firms and to provide resources to An Bord Tráchtála for its marketing programmes, including the market development fund. The day-to-day operation of the market development fund has been handled by a special management team led by an assistant chief executive from An Bord Tráchtála and drawn from the relevant State bodies. Grant approved by team are paid by An [1892] Bord Tráchtála. I have, therefore, no responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the fund or for decisions on individual applications.

  229.  Mrs. Owen    asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications    for names of persons appointed as directors to the board of a company (details supplied); the date of the company's next AGM, the names of returning directors who were appointed under article 37 of the company by companies (details supplied) at the latest AGM, the total amount paid to each director and the chairman for the year up to the latest AGM; and the amount of income which was paid by or on behalf of his Department.

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen):  I have no statutory function in relation to the appointment of directors, the amounts of directors' fees or the holding of annual general meetings of the company in question. No funds have been paid to that company by or on behalf of my Department.

  230.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications    to state if he has received any recent communication from Iarnród Éireann requesting funding towards the provision of a commuter rail service from Kilcock, County Kildare; if so, if favourable consideration may be given to such a request in 1993; if his attention has been drawn to the need for such a service in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen):  The Deputy's question concern's a matter of detail relating to the day by day administration of Iarnród Éireann. Accordingly, I have no function in the matter.

[1893]

  231.  Mr. Bradford    asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications    his views on the document Feasibility Study of a Natural Energy Park at Mallow, County Cork which was submitted by Cork County Council in 1992; and if, in view of the possible benefits, including job creation, which would accrue from the natural energy park, he will support the project.

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen):  In 1990, my Department reached agreement with the EC Commission whereby 70 per cent of the cost of carrying out this feasibility study would be made available to Cork County Council under the EC Valoren Programme in addition to 55 per cent of the cost of developing a goethermal production well. I understand that in the light of the study it is now proposed to appoint consultants with a view to undertaking a detailed viability and marketing study of the proposal and subject to this, have a detailed design produced.

The concept of a natural energy park based on naturally occurring geothermal water is worthy of further consideration and the potential for the development of this project in the context of the overall promotion of renewable energy sources will continue to receive attention in my Department.

  232.  Mr. Hogan    asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications    if he will give details of the progress, if any, which has been made regarding the installation of MMDS throughout the country; his policy on the safety element of this particular system; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen):  MMDS systems are now operational in counties Louth, Wexford, Dublin (North), Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny, Limerick, Kerry, Galway, Cork, Roscommon [1894] and Sligo with in excess of 24,000 subscribers in total. The provision of MMDS service to specific areas within an MMDS franchise is a matter for the licensed operator concerned. If it emerges that satisfactory service is not possible in an area from a licensee's primary transmitter, technical solutions for the provision of service unique to each such area must be devised by the licensees with consequent unavoidable delays in the provision of service to these areas.

The technical specifications laid down by my Department for licensed MMDS systems require operators to comply with the safety guidelines laid down by the Non-Ionizing Radiation Committee — the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection since May 1992 of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) on the limits of exposure to radio frequency magnetic fields in the frequency range used by the operators.

  233.  Mr. McCormack    asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht    the total allocation for the Gaeltacht amenity road scheme in 1992; the exact location in each Gaeltacht area where this money was spent; and the amount of money allocated on each project.

Minister of State of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. P. Gallagher)(Donegal South East):  Ceadaíodh £368,968 san iomlán do bhóithre sa Gaeltacht i 1992. Seo a leanas an sonraí:—

Bóithre a ceadaíodh deontais ina leith i 1992

£
Contae Dhún na nGall
Bóthar áise chuig tithe Charlie Doogan agus James Boyle, Roisín, Ailt an Chorráin 600
Bóthar áise lámh leis an reilig ag Cruit chomh fada le tithe Charlie Sweeney, John Gallagher agus James O'Donnell. 1,200
[1895]Bóthar áise ón bhóthar contae ag Mín na Leice síos go dtí teach Chris McGonagle. 1,500
Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Ann McEochan agus Mary Ann Trimble, Na Farragáin, Leitir Mac An Bhaird. 300
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Declan agus Cathleen Bonner, Dirlaught, Leitir Mac An Bhaird. 1,000
Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Billy O'Donnell agus James M O'Donnell, Lackenagh, Ailt an Chorráin. 650
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Agnes agus Patrick McCalliog, Madavagh, Leitir Mac an Bhaird. 1,000
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach John agus Patricia Gallagher, Doire na nGriall, An Dúchoraidh. 400
Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe John O'Donnell agus Peter Boyle, Béal Cruit, Ceann Caslach. 600
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Chonall Uí Chuireáin agus portach do cheathrar eile ag Bogach, An Charraig. 900
Bóthar agus deisiúcháin ag riachtanacha ar na casáin ag Ardán Naomh Peadair, An Clochán Liath. 2,500
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Séan agus Helen Uí Chnáimhsí, Madavagh, Leitir Mac an Bhaird. 600
Bóthar agus obair dhraenála riachtanach in aice le tithe Séan McGinley agus Wille McFadden, Glaiseach. 400
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Brendan agus Anne Uí Chnáimhsí, Glaiseach. 500
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Manus Roarty, Muine Beag, Dún Lúiche. 400
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Manus agus Mairéad Uí Dhomhnaill, Cró na Shallóg, An Clochán Liath. 500
Bóthar chuig an reilig ag An Charraig. 2,000
[1896]Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Joe Chambers agus Biddy McDermott, Bun an Inbhir. 1,000
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach John agus Kathleen Boyle, Shallogans, Baile na Finne. 500
Obair riachtanach ar an bhóthar agus an carrchlós lámh leis an ionad pobail sa Chlochán Liath. 3,500
Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Tom McCarthy agus Martin McFadden, Carrickcoyle, Bun an Leaca. 600
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Joe agus Patricia Gallagher, Fanaboy, Gort an Choirce. 600
Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Brigid Gallagher, Eddie Boyle agus Mary Atkins, Keadue Uacht., Ailt an Chorráin. 600
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Gerard Moy, Crockamore, Ailt an Chorráin. 300
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Dan Sweeney, Keadue, Ailt an Chorráin. 300
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Dan agus Shirley McGee, Loch an Iúir. 400
Bóthar portaigh ó bhóthar contae Chnoc Fola/Mín an Chladaigh os comhair teach Madge McFadden. 1,500
Bóthar portaigh ó theach Patrick Murray i dtreo Chnoc Fola thar na “Dippers”. 750
Bóthar portaigh i dtreo na farraige idir Cnoc Fola agus Mín an Chladaigh. 750
Bóthar portaigh ón bhóthar os comhair teach Tom McGeever, Glasarchú. 600
Bóthar portaigh an Choirbhín ó phríomhbhóthar an Choirbhín via teach Tom Sweeney i dtreo teach Joe Boyle. 1,000
Bóthar portaigh ó theach Paddy McFadden, Mín an Iolair, go dtí barr na sléibhe. 1,000
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Rory agus Fionnuala McMonagle, Caiseal, Gort an Choirce. 600
Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Kathleen Gallagher, Anagaire. 600
[1897]Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Joe Gallagher, Lettercaugh, An Clochán Liath, agus go dtí tailte le Fred Gallagher, Peter Gillespie agus Mary Gillespie. 500
Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe le Bríd Gallagher, Patrick Doogan, Kit Logan, muintir Uí Bhriain, Mín an Chladaigh Íocht. 500
Droichead lámh leis an bpáirc pheile ag Aphort, Árainn Mhór. 2,500
Bóthar contae ag Machaire Loisce, An Bun Beag. 3,500
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag Léim an Ghadhra go dtí teach Dhéaglán Uí Maolmhuaidh, Léim an Ghadhra. 2,000
An droichead ag Cróibh Bán, Ard an Rátha. 3,000
An bóthar ag Leargain na Saothar, Ard an Rátha. 1,500
An claífort ag teach Phádraig Uí Canainn, Gleann Geise, Ard an Rátha. 2,500
An droichead ag teach Phádraig Mhic an Ghoill, Gleann Geise, Ard an Rátha. 5,000
Bóthar chuig tithe Mhic Grianna, Uí Chnáimhsí, Uí Ghallchóir agus Ní Dhubhthaigh ag Druim na Cart, Anagaire. 750
Bóthar ar chlé chuig tithe Rushe, Walsh, Comerford agus Uí Ghallchóir agus daoine eile ag Srath na Corcra, Doirí Beaga. 1,500
Bóthar chuig teach Sheoirse Uí Chnáimhsí agus talamh le muintir Uí Bhaoill agus daoine eile ag Céideadh Uacht., Ailt an Chorráin. 600
Bóthar chuig teach Fheilimí Uí Mheallaigh agus talamh le Doiminic Ó Meallaigh agus daoine eile ag Na Farragáin, Leitir Mhic an Bháird. 500
Bóthar chuig teach Dhónal Uí Chnáimhsí agus chuig An Cnoc ag Doire Leac Chonaill, An Dúchoraidh. 600
Bóthar ó chrosbhealach Bhóthar an Tearmon ag Machaire, An Clochán Liath, thar teach Uí Dhochartaigh chun na farraige (ar thaobh na láimhe deise). 1,500
Bóthar chuig tithe Uí Chnáimhsí agus Uí Ghallchóir ag Bun an Droichíd, An Clochán Liath. 500
[1898]Bóthar chuig tithe Shéan Uí Dhónaill agus Ghráinne Uí Dhónaill ag Machaire Gathláin, Doirí Beaga. 700
Bóthar chuig tithe Mhic Aoidh agus Uí Chonacháin ag Srath na Corcra, Doirí Beaga. 750
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag Dobhar Lár chuig na portaigh. 1,000
Bóthar ón bhealach mór i Rann na Feirste chuig teach Fannie Ní Ghallchóir. 800
Bóthar ó theach Mháire Uí Fhearraigh ag Cró na gCúig Fhia, Croithlí, chuig teach Mhicheál Uí Fhearraigh. 700
Bóthar go tithe Uí Bhaoill, Uí Dhomhnaill agus Ní Shearcaigh ag Leac Beag, ar thaobh na láimhe deise den bhealach mór ón Chlochán Liath go Ailt an Chorráin. 1,300
Bóthar chuig tithe Éamonn Uí Ghallchóir, Nuala Ní Ghallchóir agus Hannah Ní Ghallchóir ag Rann na Feirste, Anagaire. 700
Obair riachtanach ar an bhóthar agus na díoganna soir le hais Óstán Ghleann Bhéigh go teach Sheán Uí Dhuibhir, Bóthar na Trá, Machaire Gathláin. 1,250
Bóthar thar an poll snámha ar chlé go tithe Uí Thuathail, Hamilton agus Mullis ag Cnoc na gCaorach, An Clochán Liath. 600
Bóthar idir teach Phádraig Uí Dhuibheanaigh agus teach Phádraig Uí Ghlacáin, Machaire, An Clochán Liath. 800
Bóthar chuig teach Dhónaill agus Máire Uí Bhaoill agus talamh le muintir Mhic Giolla Easbuig, Mhic Monagail agus daoine eile ag Seascann na Rón, An Clochán Liath. 700
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag Bóthar na Cé, An Clochán Liath go tithe Mhic Amhlaoibh agus Uí Bhaoill. 600
Bóthar go tithe Mhic Aodha agus Ní Ghibhlín ar an sean bhealach ag An Mín Mhór, An Clochán Liath. 900
Bóthar go tithe Mhic Chumhaill, Ní Shearcaigh agus Nic Ruairí ag Bun an Bhaic, Croithlí. 700
[1899]Bóthar go tithe Eoin Uí Bhaoill agus Thomás Uí Bhaoill agus gnó le Seosamh Ó Baoill ag Mullach Dubh, Ceann Caslach. 700
Bóthar go tithe Phádraigh Uí Bhaoill agus Nóirín Ní Chúláin ag Ard Donn, Gaoth Dobhair. 750
Bóthair ceangal ó theach Jimmy O'Donnell, Leab Rannach, i dtreo Aphort, Árainn Mhór. 800
Bóthar ó sheanteach Sheosamh Mhic Aoidh go tithe Nóra Ní Ghallchóir agus daoine eile ag Doire Uí Fhrighil, An Fál Carrach. 1,000
Bóthar agus díoga in aice le tithe Seán McGinley agus Willie McFadden, An Glaiseach, Bun an Leaca. 400
Bóthar an Ghleanna, An Glaiseach, Doirí Beaga. 750
Bóthar portaigh ón phríomhbhealach lámh le teach Tommy McGinley, Glenhola, Gort an Choirce. 750
Bóthar ag Cloch Bhuaile, An Clochán Liath, go portaigh le Pius Ó Baoill, Philip Ó Baoill, Cathal Ó Gallchóir, Eddie Mac Suibhne agus daoine eile. 700
Bóthar go tithe Eddie Ó Gallchóir (Gracie) agus Micheál Ó Gallchóir ag Pluchóg, Árainn Mhór. 400
Bóthar an Chuirín, Gleann Cholm Cille, go teach ceanntuí Sheán Uí Bheirn agus talamh le muintir Mhic Giolla Easbuig, Uí Chuaig agus daoine eile. 1,000
Bóthar portaigh ón chrosbheallach ag Cruimlín, Málainn Beag, Gleann Cholm Cille, go dtí na portaigh. 1,000
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag Na Caislíní, Cill Chartaigh, ag dul i treo teach Shéamus Uí Eigeartaigh agus talamh le muintir Uí Bheirn agus daoine eile. 500
Bóthar go dtí tithe Uí Dhochartaigh, Uí Dhomhnaill agus Mhic Aodha ag Srath na Circe, An Charraig, ar an taobh eile den abhann ó mhonarcha Earagail Éisc. 1,000
Bóthar ó Dhroichead Leitir, Cill Charthaigh, go tithe Uí Chanainn, Uí Ghallchóir agus Uí Eigeartaigh. 800
[1900]Bóthar ag Cró Uachtarach, An Charraig, ó dheas chomh fada le tithe Chaitlín Bn Mhic Giolla Cearra agus Chathal Ó Baoill. 1,000
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag Uimeascán, Cill Charthaigh, ag dul i dtreo teach Phroinsias Uí Bheirn agus talamh le muintir Uí Dhúgáin agus daoine eile 1,000
An bóthar uachtarach ag Acharach, An Charraig, go tithe Uí Mhaoldomhnaigh agus Uí Riain. 1,000
Bóthar go dtí an piara ag Cruit, Ceann Caslach. 1,250
Bóthar portaigh ag Caorán Ruairí, Na Gleannta. 1,000
Bóthar ó phríomhbhóthar Mhachaire Chlochair thar tithe Eibhlín Nic Giolla Chomhaill agus Chonal Mhic Giolla Bhríde chomh fada le teach Shéamus Mhic Giolla Chomhaill agus sealla S. Mhic Giolla Bhríde. 950
Bóthar go tithe John Gallagher, Seán Ó Dónaill, Frankie Herron, Eddie O'Donnell, Dobhar. 800
Bóthar chuig tithe Bn Neilie McHugh agus Máire Bn Uí Ghallchóir ag Crahnaguige, Croithlí. 500
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag teach Nora Reddan, Doire Fad, Craoslach, go dtí an portach agus go dtí carrchlós an chlub iascaireachta. 1,000
Bóthar ó theach Bhrian Uí Dhochartaigh go dtí teach Mhicheál Uí Dhochartaigh, Doibhleann Mór, Carraig Airt. 500
Droichead go dtí feirmeacha agus tithe le Séamus Mac Buidhe agus Jack Doherty ag Sraith Greadaigh, Tearmann. 2,000
Bóthar go teach A. Ó Raghallaigh agus go dtí an portach ag Tulla, Carraig Airt. 500
Bóthar go dtí teach Mary O'Donnell agus feirm Bhríd Murray, Fawnes, Tearmann. 500
Bóthar ó theach Phádraig Uí Ghallachóir go teach Phroinsias Uí Rúnaí, Ceann a'Largaidh, Na Dúnaibh. 700
Bóthar go dtí an reilig ag Clontallagh, Na Dúnaibh. 1,000
[1901]Bóthar ó theach Shorcha Nic Bhroghain go teach Sheán Uí Bhroghain, Meall Mór, Na Dúnaibh. 1,000
Bóthar ó theach Róise Nic Ghallachóir go teach Sheán Uí Bhuidhe, Dún Duain, Na Dúnaibh. 1,500
Bóthar ó theach Danny Curran, Baile an Teampaill, An Fál Carrach, thar teach Eddie McHugh i dtreo teach Barney Curran. 1,000
Bóthar chuig tithe Simon Rodgers agus Rose Elliott, Na Farragáin, Leitir Mhic an Bháird. 400
Bóthar go dtí teach Con McHugh agus talamh ag Doire Leacht, Leitir Mhic an Bháird. 500
Bóthar go dtí tithe le Seán Ó Gallchóir, Máire Uí Ghallchóir agus Biddy Uí Ghallchóir ag Stranabrooey, Doire Beag. 1,000
Bóthar go dtí tithe le Bridie Coyle, Teague Coyle agus Hugh Coyle, Seascann Beag, Doire Beag. 1,000
Bóthar i dtreo teach Bhríd Ferry, Machaire Clochair. 500
Bóthar i dtreo tithe le Harry O'Brien, Denis O'Brien, Donal O'Brien, Michael O'Brien agus Peter O'Brien, Mín Lárach. 1,000
Bóthar i dtreo tithe le muintir Keyes agus muintir Mhic Fhionnlaoich, Renny, Leitir Mhic an Bháird. 500
Bóthar ó theach Dhonncha Uí Bhaoill go teach Bhrian Mhic an Bháird, Leac Aonach, Ailt an Chorráin. 1,750
Bóthar i dtreo tithe le muintir Cannon, Ross agus Meehan, Mín Lárach. 650
Bóthar go tithe John Curran agus Michael Doogan, Caoildruim Íocht., Gort an Choirce. 300
Bóthar i dtreo le Paddy O'Donnell, Andy O'Donnell agus Ann O'Donnell, Mín an Iolair, Gaoth Dobhair. 500
Bóthar chuig tithe Jimmy McGeady agus Paddy Curran, Glaiseach Uachtarach. 600
Bóthar chom fada le teach Joe Gallagher, Fanaboy Uacht. 400
[1902]Bóthar i dtreo tithe mhuintir Mhic Suibhne agus Harkin ag Proclais, An Fál Carrach. 600
Bóthar chuig tithe Bridie Kelly agus Hiudaí Greene, Rann na Feirste. 350
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Micheál agus Nancy Mhic Géidigh, Mín na Loch, Cnoc Fola. 500
Deisiú bóthair agus glanadh carraigeacha ag Cloch Glas, Ailt an Chorráin. 1,000
Bóithre contae ar Árainn Mhór. 10,000
Bóithre sa Ghaeltacht Lár: 2,000
Ardbatt
Meenlaharry 2,000
Craoghs 2,000
Bóthar ó theach Anton Coll go teach John Columb, Ardaí Beaga, Gort an Choirce. 1,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach James agus Bríd Breslin agus talamh le Cáit Ní Ghallchóir, Béal na Cruite, Ceann Caslach. 750
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Hugh agus Séamus McDevitt, Lorg na Learcáin, An Clochán. 1,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Lanty Molloy agus talamh le Paul Molloy, Léim an Ghadhra, Gleann Cholm Cille. 800
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe Rose Boyle, Paddy McHugh agus Michael Boyle ag Fál an Ghabhainn, Árainn Mhór. 800
Bóthar agus díoga lámh le teach Chonall Uí Domhnaill, Sliabh Síon, An Fál Carrach. 600
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Frank Walsh agus talamh le Joe Joyce agus Sean Ward, Mín a' Leineacháin, An Clochán Liath. 1,000
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe Shéamus McGarvey agus Nóra McGarvey, Baile Lár, Doirí Beaga. 800
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe John Mór Diver, Bridget Ferry agus Madge agus John Healy, Bun an Leaca. 650
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe Timothy Boyle agus Patsy Hannigan, Roisín, Ailt an Chorráin. 700
[1903]Áit pháirceála taobh leis an bhóthar lámh le tithe James Neil McBride agus daoine eile ag Mín Doire na Slua, Anagaire. 200
Bóthar tithe Phádraig agus Nóilín Mhic Cearainn, Drimlaughdrid, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird. 500
Bóthair ó Mhíobhaigh, Na Dúnaibh, chomh fada le teach Liam Mac Nuadhait. 1,000
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe Devenney agus De Bhailís, Machaire, An Clochán Liath. 1,000
Bóthar ceangail ó bhóthar Mhín Beannaid/An Clochán Liath go dtí an bóthar áise a théann thar tithe le Máire Breathnach, Niall Ó Cnáimhsí agus daoine eile ar aghaidh go dtí an Sean Stáisiún Traenach ag Cnoic Átha Mór, Mín Beannaid. 1,250
Bóthar a fhreasalaíonn ar sé theaghlach in aice an locha ag Glasarchú, Bun an Leaca. 1,000
Bóthar ag teach Fred P O'Donnell, Croithlí. 150
Bóthar go tithe Patrick McGarvey agus Máire Ní Bhaoill, Baile an Droichid, An Bun Beag. 500
Bóthar portaigh ó bhóthar contae Chnoc Fola/Mhín an Chladaigh os comhair teach Madge McFadden agus chuig portaigh le Hugh Doogan agus Paddy McFadden. 500
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe John Gallagher (Hill) agus muintir Mhic Suibhne, Seascann na Rón, An Clochán Liath. 800
Bóthar go teach Shiobhán Nic Dhómhnaill, Mín an Boligáin, An Clochán Liath, agus ar aghaidh go portaigh. 1,000
Casán coise ag Ardán an Athair Mhic Daibhir, Caiseal, Gleann Cholm Cille. 750
Bóthar chuig tithe le Nigel McFadden agus Paddy McFadden, Cnoc Fola. 400
Bóthar taobh le teach Margaret agus Dermot Gallagher, Dún Lúiche. 400
Bóthar ón bhóthar contae ag An Druim, Creafort, go dtí talamh agus teach le Pádraig Ó Ludhóg agus Seán Ó Marlaigh. 1,000
[1904]Bóthar go tithe le Michael Ferry agus John Gallagher, Bóthar an tSéil, An Clochán Liath. 500
Bóthar go dtí portaigh le Hugh Brennan, James Brennan, John Brennan agus Gerry Gibbons ag Droimleathdhroid, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird. 500
Bóthar chuig tithe Uí Dhomhnaill, Mhic Suibhne, Nic Aoidh, Mhic Chonaill agus Uí Ghrádaigh ar chúl na cúirte liathróid láimhe le fad na páirce peile ag Baile Chonaill, An Fál Carrach. 1,200
Bóthar chuig tithe an Dr Ó Ruairc, muintir Uí Ghrifín agus daoine eile ag Baile an Easa, An Fál Carrach. 1,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach agus talamh le John & Rose Harley, Anagaire Thoir. 500
Bóthar chomh fada le teach agus talamh le muintir McGettigan, Meendrain, An Clochán Liath. 500
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Katie Duffy, Túr, Croithlí. 350
Bothar chomh fada le teach le Connie Gallagher agus talamh le John Harley ag Rann na Móna, Anagaire. 600
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Bridie O'Donnell, Céideach Uachtarach, Ailt an Chorráin. 250
Áit pháirceála (“lay-by”) ar thaobh bhealach Rann na Móna, Anagaire, idir bealach an “Saltpetre” agus bealach “White Cross”. 150
Bóthar/balla cosanta ag reilig Árainn Mhóir. 6,000
Contae Mhaigh Eo
Droichead ag Doire Easa, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh. 5,000
Bóthar ag teach an Uasail Dominic Ginty, Tamhlacht, Baile Chruaich. Usáideann muintir Inis Bigil é. 3,000
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Terence Dever, agus duine eile ag Sáile Thiar, Acaill. 2,100
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Seán Patton, agus cúigear eile ag An Trá, Bun an Churraigh, Acaill. 3,500
Bóthar ag Eaglais Bhun an Churraigh go tithe John Sweeney agus muintir Fleming. 1,900
[1905]Bóthar portaigh ag Mám, Bun an Churraigh. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Michael Lavelle agus duine eile ag Dubh Éige, Acaill. 2,000
Bóthar chuig tithe le muintir Uí Dhuibhir, Uí Fhearraigh, Uí Phiotáin agus daoine eile ag Maoth Mhuilinn, Béal Fearsaid. 3,700
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe le muintir Curley, Stonefield, Ceathrú Thaidhg. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe Michael J McGrath agus John Connolly, Cill Ghallagáin, Ceathrú Thaidhg. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le teach an Uasail Séamus Ó Murhcú agus talamh le triúr eile ag Ballinaboy, Barr na Trá. 2,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach an Uasail Pádraic Ruddy agus talamh le ceathrar eile ag Carne, Béal an Mhuirthead. 2,000
Bóthar isteach chuig an tsráidbhaile chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Martin McGuire agus daoine eile ag Gort Breac, Poll an tSómais. 2,000
Bóthar Piper atá mar bhóthar ceangal idir dhá bhóthar contae ag Imleach Beag Theas. 2,000
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Anthony Barrett agus beirt eile ag Ballymacsheeran, An Geata Mór. 2,000
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Anthony McDowell agus beirt eile ag Cornboy, Ceathrú Thaidhg. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe an Uasail Seán Ó Loideáin agus daoine eile ag Trianlár, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh. 1,400
Bóthar chomh fada le teach an Uasail Tom Eirbrand agus talamh le muintir Hoban ag Glensaul, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh. 900
Bóthar portaigh ag Barr na hAbhna, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh. 7,000
Bóthar chuig tithe John O'Malley agus Peadar Malone ag Leitir Inín, Tuar Mhic Éadaigh. 8,500
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe John Ruddy agus Patrick Reilly, Páirc an Locha, Bun na hAbhann, Béal an Átha. 2,000
[1906]Bóthar chomh fada le teach Larry agus James Carthy, Tullachán Bán, Gaoth Sáile, Béal an Átha. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le tithe Patrick King agus Mrs. Reilly, Roycarter, Dubh Thuama, Béal an Átha. 1,500
Bóthar ceangail ó bhéal Deirg go Port Urlainne. 1,000
Contae na Gaillimhe
Bóthar Bhaile Lár, Ros an Mhíl, ón bpríomhbhóthar go dtí teach Thomás Seoighe. 3,000
Bóthar ag Corr na Rón Thiar, Indreabhán, ón bpríomhbhóthar go dtí an crosbhóthar ar thaobh na farraige. 2,000
Bóthar ag Corr na Rón Thiar, Indreabhán, sios go dtí teach Andy Breathnach. 1,800
Bóthar Chartúr Caol, Indreabhán, ón bpríomhbhóthar go teach Mháire Ní Fhlatharta. 1,000
Bóthar Bhéal an Átha, Indreabhán, ón bpríomhbhóthar go dtí an fharraige chomh fada le teach Mhicheál Uí Churraín. 1,300
Bóthar na Minna, Indreabhán, ón bpríomhbhóthar go dtí an fharraige thar teach Mhic Dhonnacha agus teach Uí Chuinn. 3,000
An Tuismeáin, An Cheathrú Rua, bóthar brainse i dtreo teach Mhicheál Uí Choistealbha. 150 slat. 2,000
An Tuismeáin, An Cheathrú Rua, bóthar brainse i dtreo teach Mháire agus Mhicheál Ó Dubháin. 2,000
An Claidhneach, An Cheathrú Rua, ó phríomhbóthar na nOileán i dtreo teach mhuintir Mheachair. 3,500
Bóthar ag Turloch, Rosmuc (“Ring Road”) isteach go teach Réamann Uí Mhainnín. 4,000
Bóthar Chladach Ó Dheas, Ros Muc. 1,500
Bóthar ón séipéal go Siléar, Ros Muc. 1,200
Bóthar ag Ard Mhór, Cill Chiaráin, ón bpríomhbhóthar ó thuaidh go dtí teach Bolger. 1,200
[1907]Bóthar síos chun na reilige agus chun na trá ag Muighros, Carna. 1,200
Bóthar síos chuig an reilig ag An Trá Mhór, Muighinis, Carna. 1,200
Bóthar síos chuig teach Bheartla Uí Oibicín, An Trá Mhór, Muighinis, Carna. 1,200
Bóthar an Chaoráin, Baile na hAbhann, ón bpríomhbhóthar go dtí teach Pheadar Cáit. 1,200
Bóthar na Baintrí, Baile na hAbhann, go dtí an reilig. 2,000
Bóthar Bhaile na hAbhann. 1,000
Bóthar ar aghaidh teach Mhicheál Breathnach, An Cnoc, Indreabhán, i dtreo na farraige. 1,200
Bóthar Ghleannach Muireann, Casla, i dtreo teach Myles Costello. 2,500
Bóthar Bhothúna, An Spidéal. 3,000
Bóthar portaigh ó Na Formaoile Thiar, Bearna, go dtí Na Poillíní. 3,000
Bóthar portaigh an Túir, An Spidéal. 3,000
Bóthar portaigh Fhionnáin, Seanaphéistín. 4,000
Bóthar go dtí reilig Chnoc na hAille ón bpríomhbóthar. 3,000
Bóthar Mheall Rua, Carna, chomh fada leis an trá. 3,000
Bóthar Thobar Mhuire síos chuig an trá i Ruisín na Mainíoch, Carna. 2,000
Bóthar Dhoire Ruis, Ros Muc, ó dheas chuig an gcladach ó theach Bartley Loftus. 2,000
Bóthar portaigh ag Inbhear, Ros Muc. 1,000
Bóthar an tSléibhe ón bpríomhbhóthar i dTír an Fhia ag ceangal le príomhbhóthar na Trá Bháine. 2,000
Bóthar an Talamh Bháin, Leitir Móir. 1,500
Bóthar an Droma, Leitir Móir, ó theach Mhicheál Uí Loideáin go teach Dharach Mhic Donncha. 2,000
Bóthar ag Cuan na Loinge, Béal an Daingin, ó theach Phádraig Ó Súilleabháin go teach Thomás Uí Annracháin. 2,000
[1908]Bóthar go dtí an páirc peile ar an gCnoc, Indreabhán. 2,000
Bóthar ag Casla ón bpríomhbhóthar i dtreo teach Dhónall agus Gertrude Mhic an Iomaire. 2,000
Bóthar an “Chommon”, Lochán Beag, Indreabhán. 2,500
Bóthar chuig an reilig, carrchlós agus balla ag Reilig Mhuighrois, Carna. 10,000
Contae Chiarraí
Bóthar chuig teach Phádraig McGill agus talamh le ceathrar eile ag Sussa, Imleach Mór, Cill Áirne. 7,830
Bóthar go tithe le Breandán Ó Súilleabháin agus daoine eile ag Droumalonhert, Glencar. 5,000
Bóthar ag Doora, Máistir Gaoithe, Cill Áirne, isteach go dtí na foraoiseacha. 4,438
Bóthar go tithe agus talamh le Úna Ní Ghrifín agus Jack Martin, Rinn Chonaill, An Daingean. 2,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Mhicheál Uí Gealbháin, Léim ar Leith, An Daingean. 3,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Sheán Uí Phroinsias, Seana Choill, Baile na nGall, Trá Lí. 2,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Sheán Uí Dhubhda, An Clochán, Trá Lí. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Phádraig Uí Loinsigh agus láithreán do theach eile atá á thógáil ag An Clochán, Trá Lí. 700
Bóthar go tithe le Labhrás Ó Slatarra agus daoine eile, An Gleann Mór, Dún Chaoin. 1,500
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Sheán Uí Chatháin, Cill Mhic an Domhnaigh, Ceann Trá. 1,000
Bóthar chomh fada le teach Mhicheál Uí Shé, An Coimín, Baile na nGall. 1,000
Bóthar chuig tithe mhuintir Uí Ghrifín agus daoine eile ag Lios Póil. 1,500
Bóthar go tithe mhuintir Tyers, Uí Chinnéide agus daoine eile ag An Ghráig, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh. 700
[1909]Bóthar na gCloch — bóthar ceangal ag Baile an Éanaigh, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh. 1,000
Bóthar an Chlocháin/Cheann Trá. 2,000
Contae Chorcaí
Bóthar chuig tithe Phádraig Uí Chuana, muintir Lehane agus muintir Uí Mhuimhneacháin, Gort an Éadain, Cill na Martha. 3,100
Bóthar chuig tithe Sheán Uí Chonaill agus muintir Dhuinnín ag Cloich Oighne, Rae na nDoirí. 5,200
Leathnú an bhóthair i Sráidbhaile Chill na Martra. 10,000
Contae na Mí
Lána Coroon. 7,500
Lána Uí Bháille. 6,500

  234.  Mr. McCormack    asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht    if there is a scheme available to improve recreational facilities in primary and post-primary Gaeltacht schools; if so, the amount of resources allocated under that scheme during 1992; the location where the money has been allocated; and the amount of grant in each instance.

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. P. Gallagher,Donegal South West):   Níl aon scéim shonrach ag mo Roinnse faoi mar atá i gceist ag an Teachta. Nuair a aithnítear, áfach, go bhfuil gá le háiseanna áirithe chaithimh aimsire ag scoileanna Ghaeltachta agus nuair is léir go rachaidh na háiseanna sin chun tairbhe ní amháin do na scoileanna ach don phobal Gaeltachta áitiúil, bíonn mo Roinnse sásta iarratais ar chúnamh mar sin a mheas ar an tuiscint shoiléir nach bhfuil cúnamh ar fáil ón Roinn Oideachais don togra céanna.

Ar an mbonn sin ceadaíodh na deontais seo a leanas i 1992:

[1910]Scoil Áiseanna Deontas
Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair Páirc Imeartha £10,000
Scoil na mBráithre, An Daingean Trealamh Gleacaíochta £4,500
Iomlán £14,500

Ní miste a lua nach bhfuil ach soláthar airgid an-teoranta ar fáil le freastal ar iarratais den chineál sin.

  235.  Mr. McGinley    asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht    the number of applications for a new house grant/renovations received in his Department from the Galway Gaeltacht during 1992; and the number of approvals in each case.

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. P. Gallagher,(Donegal South West):   Seo a leanas an t-eolas:

Líon iarratais a fuarthas i Cásanna a ceadaíodh i
1992 1992
Deontais do thithe nua 68 51
Deontais feabhsúcháin 377 399

Baineann roinnt de na cásanna a ceadaíodh i 1992 le h-iarratais a fuarthas roimh 1 Eanáir na bliana sin.

  236.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Health    the progress, if any, which has been made for Ireland to establish its own donor bank for heart valves; the costs involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  I understand that the establishment of a donor bank for heart valves is a joint venture between the Blood Transfusion [1911] Service Board and the National Cardiac Surgical Centre. It is hoped that the bank will be in place from April 1993.

This new programme will utilise many resources already available at the Blood Transfusion Service Board including a microbiology laboratory and liquid nitrogen storage units. The cost per valve which will be borne by the hospitals will be £250 approximately.

I understand that there is a shortage of heart valves in this country and the establishment of this new service will alleviate difficulties and delays in treating patients in Ireland.

  237.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Health    when a person (details supplied) will be called for a heart by-pass operation.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  The Deputy will be aware that this patient's name is on the waiting list for surgery at the National Cardiac Surgery Centre, Mater Hospital, Dublin, but the hospital is not in a position to give a precise admission date at this time.

The scheduling of admission to hospital is a matter for the consultant concerned and every patient is assessed to determine their medical priority. Should the patient be concerned about his condition, I would advise him to return to his general practitioner who is in the best position to emphasise the urgency of his case directly to the consultant.

  238.  Mr. J. Higgins    asked the Minister for Health    the number of people awaiting serious operations for orthodontic treatment in County Mayo and the waiting period for these operations or treatment.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  Children seen by the Western Health Board's school dental service from Mayo are [1912] referred for screening for orthodontic treatment in accordance with guidelines issued by my Department. Urgent cases, such as cleft palate, are treated as a matter of urgency. There has been a significant improvement in the level of orthodontic services in the Mayo area as a result of the additional money made available since 1990. A total of 700 children are currently receiving orthodontic treatment. A full time Consultant Orthodontist has recently taken up appointment with the Western Health Board which will result in further improvement in the provision of orthodontic services in the region. This appointment will enable the board to develop a comprehensive orthodontic service and will facilitate the provision of training in orthodontics for the board's dental staff. According to a recent return made to my Department by the Western Health Board the position regarding orthodontic treatments in County Mayo is as follows:

Numbers awaiting treatment Waiting period
Category A Nil
(category of greatest severity)
Category B 278 12-18 months
Category C 67 12-18 months

The waiting period will be further reduced when the newly appointed consultant orthodontist is fully operational.

  239.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Health    if he will give details of the prenatal testing services available in Ireland; if he will develop these services; and are women being funded by his Department or the health boards to have this type of testing carried out abroad.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  The position in relation to prenatal testing services in this country is that routine tests to determine immunity and blood type are widely available throughout [1913] maternity hospitals and maternity units. In certain hospitals and in selected cases, ultrasound, amniocentesis, and cordocentesis are performed where recommended by the clinician.

In relation to the development of the prenatal testing service which is linked to the medical genetic counselling service, the Deputy will be aware that special funding was provided in 1992 by my Department to enable the establishment of an integrated medical genetics counselling service at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. I am pleased to report that a Consultant Medical Geneticist is currently being recruited to direct this service. It is intended that a full range of tests will be provided at the Crumlin Centre, and that counselling will be non-directive in nature. Two additional medical genetic counselling centres outside Dublin will be developed as resources permit.

Health boards have, from time to time, referred patients abroad under EC arrangements for medical genetics counselling.

  240.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Health    if he will allocate the necessary funding to provide for the development of the premises of the National League of the Blind in Ireland at 35 Gardiner Place, Dublin 1; if he will provide a day care centre for all blind people; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  In common with other Members of the House, I have just received within the last few days details of the proposed development of a day care centre by the National League of the Blind.

I am arranging to have this examined by my Department in consultation with the Eastern Health Board.

[1914]

  241.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Health    if he will give details of the amount the North Eastern Health Board will receive under Vote 41 subhead B1, subhead B2, subhead B3 and subhead B4 in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  The Deputy is aware that the Government has approved a sum of £1,678.443 million as the net non-capital provision in respect of health services in 1993, as published in the abridged Book of Estimates. My Department is currently in the process of determining individual agency allocations and it is my intention to notify figures to agencies shortly.

  242.  Mr. Bell    asked the Minister for Health    the result of the investigation by an expert medical group set up in 1982 to examine the case of the administration of Triple Antigen Vaccine in 1973 in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; if he will make the full report available to Members of Dáil Éireann or if he will make it available to the parents of this person or his legal representatives; the reason no reply was given to the letter of 28 September 1992 addressed to the secretary of his Department from a firm of solicitors acting on behalf of this person and his family; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin):  An Expert Medical Group was established in 1977 to examine cases of possible adverse reactions to the pertussis vaccination.

In the course of their deliberations the Group collected information on cases brought to their attention. This information included, in some cases, the batch number of the vaccine given. However, I would not feel it appropriate for me to release any information obtained by the group as it was obtained solely for the purpose of their investigations. This was conveyed to the solicitors acting for the person on a number of occasions in 1985.

The specific information being sought in the case raised by the Deputy was not made available to the Group and this has [1915] been conveyed to the solicitors acting on his behalf in reply to the letter of 28 September 1992.

  243.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Education    if the collection time of students from Glengarra, Burncourt, Cahir, County Tipperary, travelling to schools in Mitchelstown, could be altered in order that these students are not the first to be collected each morning and returned home last each evening; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Breathnach):  Because this is the first inquiry that either my Department, or the County Cork Transport Liaison Officer who operates the scheme on my behalf, has had on this matter, I am not in a position to answer the Deputy's Question.

If the Deputy would supply the name and address of each of the pupils involved, I will have the matter investigated. The outcome will be conveyed to the Deputy as soon as possible.

  244.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Education    if she will provide any grant aid for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary, pursuing a beauty therapy course; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The institution is not recognised by my Department for the purposes of third level students grant schemes.

  245.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Education    if she will approve grants for persons (details supplied) in County Tipperary under the 1992 higher education grant scheme, as in this particular case their grants were only awarded provisionally in 1991; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

[1916]Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The 1992 Higher Education Grants Scheme does not apply in the case in question, as, with the exception of mature students, that scheme does not apply to students who had commenced their current studies in approved institutions before the commencement of the 1992/93 academic year.

It is understood from Tipperary (South Riding) County Council, the body statutorily entrusted with the administration of the Higher Education Grants Schemes in this case, that the candidates in question were awarded grants (partial maintenance plus full fees) in respect of the 1991/92 academic year, and that, in relation to 1992/93, both candidates were deemed ineligible for grants in accordance with the terms of the schemes as a result of increased reckonable means.

  246.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Education    if she will provide funding for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary in 1993; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  Approval has been given to the vocational education committee in question to proceed with the preparation of tender documentation. The question of proceeding further will be considered later in the year in the light of available funds and my Department's other commitments and priorities.

  247.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    if the necessary finance has been provided under Vote 27. K1 for the new Kilmessan National School, County Meath and for the extension to the Robinstown National School, County Meath in the Estimates for the Public Service 1993.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  I am glad to confirm that I have [1917] included the project for Kilmessan in the National School Capital Programme for 1993. Tenders will be invited shortly and the project should proceed to contract in the second half of the year.

Because of other demands, deemed to be of higher priority, which had to take precedence, it was not possible to include the extension of Robinstown National School in the National School Capital Programme for 1993. Tender documents for the project have been prepared and it will continue to be considered for inclusion in the programme in the light of available resources and other commitments and priorities.

  248.  Mr. Currie    asked the Minister for Education    if she will ensure the retention of the current level of teaching posts at St. Peter Apostle National School, Neilstown, County Dublin in view of the inclusion of this school in her Department's scheme for designated disadvantaged areas, the findings and recommendations of the North Clondalkin Task Force and other factors (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The staffing of a national school is determined by the enrolment in the school on the 30 September of the previous year.

In the case of St. Peter Apostle Junior national school there were 355 pupils enrolled on the 30 September, 1991. This number warranted a staff of Principal plus 11 assistants for the 1992/93 school year. The school also has the services of a full-time remedial teacher, a concessionary teacher under the special scheme for schools serving disadvantaged areas and an assistant in charge of a special class.

There were 326 pupils enrolled in the school on 30 September 1992, a drop of 29 pupils compared with the preceding year. While the staffing arrangements for the 1993/94 school year have not yet been finalised, an enrolment of [1918] 326 would warrant a staff of Principal plus ten assistants.

In the case of St. Peter Apostle Senior national school there were 350 pupils enrolled on the 30 September, 1991. This number warranted a staff of Principal and 11 assistants for the 1992/93 school year. The school also has the services of a full-time remedial teacher, a concessionary teacher under the special scheme for schools serving disadvantaged areas, two assistants in charge of special classes.

A home-school liaison teacher is shared between the schools. There were 306 pupils enrolled in the school on the 30 September 1992, a drop of 44 pupils compared with the preceding year. While the staffing arrangements for the 1993/94 school year have not yet been finalised, an enrolment of 306 would warrant a staff Principal plus 10 assistants.

My Department will be in touch with the authorities in both schools regarding staffing as soon as the arrangements have been finalised.

  249.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Education    if her attention has been drawn to requests for the provision of extra facilities at Longwood Vocational School, Enfield, County Meath; if she will give favourable consideration to these requests in 1993; if the necessary funds for the works in question will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  I am aware of the position in relation to this school.

Following examination of the needs of this school the County Meath Vocational Education Committee has been given approval for the replacement of two prefabricated classrooms. The vocational education committee is currently considering how the new classrooms can be best provided and the matter will be considered further by my Department when the vocational education committee's detailed proposals are received.

[1919]

  250.  Mr. Gilmore    asked the Minister for Education    the discussions, if any, she has had with the management of St. Catherine's College of Home Economics, Blackrock, County Dublin; if she intends to allow the college to be closed; the plans, if any, she has for the college; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  I have not had any formal discussions to date with the management of St Catherine's College of Home Economics since my appointment. Plans for the future of the college will be developed following full discussions of all relevant factors and following discussions with all concerned interests.

  251.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    the way in which the £19.944 million under Vote 29 subhead J. (i) in the Estimates for Public Services 1993 will be distributed.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The 1993 allocation of £19.944 million represents an increase of £4.2 million or 27 per cent on the 1992 out-turn. This provision will be targetted generally in all the colleges at enhancing capacity, upgrading facilities and supporting the restructuring of programmes aimed at economic growth and job creation. Among the projects to be funded in the regional technical college sector are the extension of information technology facilities at Athlone, Limerick and Cork; hotel training at Galway; staff research facilities at Waterford; finalisation of works at Tallaght; a new Multi-purpose Centre at Sligo; extensions at Dundalk and Tralee, and the planning of information technology facilities at Carlow and Letterkenny. It also includes major projects for the Dublin Institute of Technology at Cathal Brugha Street and Bishop Street.

[1920]

  252.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    the amount which each Committee will receive from the £194.891 million under Vote 28 subhead F. in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The 1993 financial schemes for the individual vocational education committees will be determined following receipt and examination of the 1992 financial accounts of the 38 vocational education committees.

  253.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    if she will give details of the schools which will benefit from the £24.5 million under Vote 28 subhead L. in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The capital allocation for postprimary schools covers equipment and resource grants, small capital projects and emergency repairs, the provision of temporary accommodation to meet increased enrolments, site/property acquisitions and major building projects. The vast majority of schools will benefit from the 1993 allocation to one degree or another.

As well as providing some £11 million to meet contractual commitments from projects completed or in progress, the allocation includes some £10 million which allows 15 major projects and 14 small capital and emergency projects to commence in 1993. The balance of £3.5 million is for equipment and resource grants, site and property acquisitions and prefabricated accommodation.

  254.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    the way in which £7.51 million will be spent and the reason for the increase under Vote 27 subhead H. in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Education (Ms Breathnach):  The Estimates of £7.51m under Vote 27 H in the 1993 Estimates for the Public Service provides for the day to day running costs of the five Special Residential [1921] Schools for Young Offenders. These costs include the remuneration and superannuation of non-teaching staff, as well as the maintenance of pupils and other non-paying expenses. Also covered by this Vote is the expenditure on courses in child care for staff of these schools and the transport services for home visitations by pupils. A new centre for boys and an expanded centre for girls were opened on a phased basis in 1991. Both these centres reached full operational capacity, with full staffing in late 1992. The increased provision in the Vote for 1993 takes account of the centre being fully operational for the full year.

  255.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    if she will give details of the schools in receipt of the sums of £2.584 million in 1992 and £3.142 million in 1993 under Vote 27 subhead E. in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  Vote 27, subhead E. provides funds for grants towards the employment of caretakers in national schools. A total of 244 caretaker posts serving 316 primary schools were grant aided from Vote 27 E at a cost of £2.514 million in 1992. In 1993 the number of caretaker posts being grant aided under Vote 27 E is 275 serving a total of 353 schools. The increase in numbers is due to 31 caretaker posts serving 37 schools which funds had formerly been provided for by the Department of Labour but from now on provision will be made in the Education Vote. The provision for 1993 is as stated in the question, £3.142 million.

  256.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    the way in which £16.411 million was spent in 1992 and if there are agreed projects in 1993 for the £17.407 million under Vote 26 subhead B 9 in the Estimates for Public Services 1993.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  The 1992 provision of youth and sport was expanded on the following programmes:

[1922] Youth Programmes

£
Youth Service Grant Scheme 4,129,499
Disadvantaged Youth 5,178,400
Youth Information 492,250
Gaisce
(The President's Award)
150,000
Youth Exchange 150,000
Local Voluntary
Youth Councils 45,000
Political Education Officers 28,000
Comhairle le Leas Oige
(City of Dublin VEC Youth Committee 525,100
Miscellaneous 59,751
Total £10,761,000

Sports Programmes

£
Aid to National Governing Bodies of Sport 2,560,217
Aid to Elite Programmes 1,006,915
Facilities Programmes 136,303
Sport for All Programmes 972,649
Tourism Programmes 12,134
Local Level Programmes 807,500
Youth Programmes 120,000
Miscellaneous Programmes 34,220
Total 5,649,938

It is intended to continue to provide funding for these programmes in 1993. The precise allocations will be determined at an early date.

  257.  Mr. Hilliard    asked the Minister for Education    if the necessary finance has been provided under Vote 28 subhead L. in the Estimates for Public Services 1993 for the proposed Ashbourne and Dunboyne Second-Level Schools, County Meath.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  Provision has been made, in the 1993 estimate, for the proposed Ashbourne second level school. As the planning of the proposed second level school for Dunboyne is at the preliminary stage, no provision has been made for it the 1993 estimate.

[1923]

  258.  Mr. Nealon    asked the Minister for Education    if her attention has been drawn to the poor state of repair of St. Mary's Boys National School, Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, where the windows are completely rotten and unable to retain glass, the roof of the prefabricated building is leaking, classrooms show evidence of rat infestation, the furniture is antiquated and there is no floor covering, ventilation in the classrooms is poor, the staff room is completely inadequate, the roof of the corridor is leaking; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that because of these conditions and the failure to do anything about them over a long period despite repeated promises, the Irish National Teachers Organisation called an official strike of their members teaching there on Friday, 19th February, 1993 which was wholeheartedly supported by the parents of pupils there; when she intends to provide funding to do the necessary work, and when work will commence.

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach):  I am aware that St Mary's National School is in a poor state of repair. Notwithstanding the fact that planning had commenced on the provision of a new extension at the school the question of amalgamation with the Convent National School is now being considered. This is because preliminary indications are that there probably would be sufficient accommodation in the Convent National School to accommodate the entire boys and first primary school population in Carrick-on-Shannon in future years. My Department is in consultation with the school authorities in the matter.