Bruton, John

Wednesday, 8 February 1995

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 448 No. 7

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Order of Business.

It is proposed to take Nos. 5, 6, 1, 2, 3 and No. 4, which shall be taken at 3.50 p.m. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) The Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p....More Button

May I reply?More Button

I said all I propose to say about that matter when it was raised yesterday. Deputies who wish to express their views on these issues will have ample opportunity to do so during the debate.More Button

This is a matter of concern but, as I said, Members can express their views in the House later. It would be inappropriate for me to confirm, or otherwise, anything that appears in newspapers.More Button

I do not know if Deputy Ahern remembers the “Soundbyte” programme and a comment on a budget he introduced where one of the contributors said there were two versions of his budget: one presented on “Mo...More Button

That is devastating stuff. (Interruptions.)More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Meeting with Alliance Party.

Was asked: if he will report on his recent meeting with the Alliance Party.More Button

The Tánaiste and I had a very constructive meeting on 3 February with an Alliance Party delegation comprising Dr. John Alderdice, Mr. Seamus Close and Mr. Seán Neeson. This was the third in a series o...More Button

Yes.More Button

Obviously this matter was not discussed at my meeting with the Alliance Party because that meeting was held before the event to which the Deputy referred. I am not in a position to comment on the mat...More Button

There is no question of a delay in the publication of the framework document. Much progress has been made on the issues which remain to be dealt with. A few issues remain to be settled and they are ...More Button

The idea of people and parties forming a bloc is particularly unhelpful. It is very important that parties on all sides of the traditional divide keep an open mind on the framework document until it ...More Button

To my recollection I do not believe they expressed particular concern in that regard. The Alliance Party indicated it is not in favour of a general amnesty for paramilitary prisoners, something which...More Button

The factual position is that substantial progress was made at every meeting which took place between officials to date. The number of issues on which the sides are at variance has been reduced steadi...More Button

That matter did not arise at the meeting. It is most unlikely that it would have arisen because the suggestions made about arrangements between the two Unionist parties became public knowledge subseq...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Declarations of Financial Interests.

Was asked: if each Minister of State has made a declaration of financial interests; and if not, if he will be requiring them to do so.More Button

All Ministers of State have furnished me with a declaration of their financial interests.More Button

I do not believe there is, but I will review the declarations closely from that point of view. I received some of the declarations recently and I will examine them to satisfy myself that there is no ...More Button

Any publication of their interests by Ministers has been on an individual basis and has been their own decision in response to queries from a particular newspaper. No obligation has been placed on an...More Button

I hope so.More Button

I think that problems of conflict of interest can arise whether one has a brief that transcends one or more Departments. The general considerations apply in all cases. It would be my intention to en...More Button

I do not have the dates of the declarations. If the Deputy wishes to table a question on that matter I can have it examined. All I can say is that all the requisite information has been supplied to ...More Button

I would have to go back over the files to satisfy myself on that issue. The question the Deputy asked was whether they had made a declaration. The answer is “yes”.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Extradition Arrangements.

Was asked: the specific changes, if any, which have been introduced since November 1994, in the Attorney General's Office in relation to the handling of extradition matters in the wake of the Brendan Smyth affai...More Button

The new extradition arrangements, which were put in place by the former Attorney General, Mr. Harold Whelehan, SC, following the Brendan Smyth case, continue in operation under the present Attorney Ge...More Button

The latter is a separate question. In regard to the first two questions it is arguable that the role of the Attorney General in these matters is quasi-judicial. The difficulty is that it raises ques...More Button

The second part of the Deputy's supplementary is a separate question; it is an attempt by the Deputy to ask the third part of her last question in a different form. It would be better if she tabled a...More Button

Deputy Ahern is asking about the general role of the Attorney General's office, its long term reform, accountability for it and matters of that kind which have been referred to by Deputy O'Donnell. I...More Button

Obviously the person who failed to notify it would be responsible.More Button

I have been careful not to attribute blame to anyone.More Button

That is a very good question and I compliment the Deputy on the way he put it. Obviously he is applying his courtroom skills to good effect.More Button

The official who fails to take certain steps laid down in the guidelines for handling cases would have to accept responsibility, but obviously the Attorney General would have to accept responsibility ...More Button

I will not be drawn into making judgments about Mr. Harry Whelehan. Deputy Cowen will probably remember that the person who made the relevant judgments in this House was Deputy Albert Reynolds.More Button

That matter will be dealt with in the light of the findings of the investigation. I will not be drawn into making judgments that prejudice or anticipate the findings of a committee of this House.More Button

Members of the House from either side should not attempt to draw me into making judgments about this case.More Button

This is a matter the House has resolved will be dealt with in a particular way. Whatever relationship Fianna Fáil had with Mr. Harold Whelehan, is a matter for that party.More Button

I am sorry I did not reply to that question.More Button

To the best of my knowledge no additional staff have been assigned, but new procedures have been introduced.More Button

It is wrong for Deputies to anticipate the findings of the committee and the presentation of its evidence.More Button

This matter will come before the House in the normal way and the House will draw its own conclusions about it. It is wrong for Deputies on any side of the House to attempt to draw this matter to publ...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Office of Director of Public Prosecutions.

Was asked: the number of staff in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; when a review of the efficiency of the office was last undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The number of staff in the office is 28, of whom 12 are lawyers. However, one of these legal positions is filled on a job-sharing basis. The efficiency of the office has been the subject of constant ...More Button

There is a difference between efficiency and accountability. The independent Director of Public Prosecutions and his office must operate to the highest standards of efficiency. I encourage all office...More Button

It is important to point out that section 2 (5) of the Prosecution of Offences Act, 1974, which established the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, states specifically that the director sha...More Button

The establishment of the independent office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was a major step forward in the sense that it took the decisions about prosecution in particular offences out of the ...More Button

I will draw the attention of the Attorney General to the points made in the House, but I have to repeat my concern about any attempt to create a highly undesirable situation where the decisions taken ...More Button

I do not expect that the latter will happen. In regard to the former, I have already answered that question.More Button

No, I will not because it would not be a good idea. If I were to do this I would politicise the decisions about prosecutions in individual cases; people who knew they would have to account politicall...More Button

I look forward to publication of the report and have no doubt that the Director of Public Prosecutions will take due note of any findings reached by the Committee of Public Accounts in the matters ref...More Button

I will consider that possibility but I do not intend to make a decision in these circumstances without investigating the matter further. I express some surprise that the Deputy and his party who hel...More Button

The Deputy's question refers to the efficiency of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and not to the separate matter she has now raised. I urge the Deputy to put down another question s...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - URBAN Initiative.

Was asked: when a decision will be made on successful projects under the URBAN initiative in view of the needs of the north Dublin area.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Famine Commemoration.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has in relation to commemorating the 150 anniversary of the great famine in 1995, not only in Dublin but also in the regions.More Button

Was asked: if he will provide funding to local authorities to enable them to carry out improvement and restoration works on former workhouses and burial grounds which survive in their original state in view of t...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Western Development Partnership Board.

Was asked: if he has met with the Western Development Partnership Board since taking office; if the action plan to be prepared by the partnership board is available; if he intends to publish this report; and, if...More Button

Financial Resolutions, 1995. - Financial Statement, Budget 1995.

He has a persecution complex.More Button

Financial Resolutions, 1995. - Financial Resolution No. 1: Excise — Tobacco Products.

I move Financial Resolution No. 1: (1) THAT in this Resolution— “the Act of 1977” means the Finance (Excise Duty on Tobacco Products) Act, 1977 (No. 32 of 1977);More Button

I will deal first with the last issue the Deputy raised. The introduction of tax stamps for cigarettes is designed to help minimise sales of smuggled cigarettes. When the stamp regime is introduced ...More Button

I am as inexperienced at this as anybody. When do I speak?More Button

The powers dealing with tobacco smuggling go back to the Customs (Consolidation) Act, 1876, which provides that any person who improperly imports a product into the State without payment of duty is gu...More Button

Five minutes will do.More Button

You are.More Button

Many points were raised in the course of the debate and I hope I will manage to answer most of them. The total revenue derived from cigarette taxation is £522 million. The increase in revenue this y...More Button

That is taxed tobacco. Obviously there was a further increase when one includes illegally obtained tobacco. Consumption of tobacco is only 7 per cent lower than it was in 1994, a relatively steady ad...More Button

That is correct.More Button

It is not necessarily unfair. It has been settled policy for some time to discourage tobacco consumption by tax measures. That there has been a disproportionate increase in the tax on cigarettes in ...More Button

Deputy Cullen has made a valid, if disorederly, interjection about big supermarkets. That situation is covered by the undertakings given by manufacturers not to allow increases in the rate of egress ...More Button

Was he chewing them, or smoking them, or was the Deputy chewing them? Was he offered one? My understanding is that the Deputy was not offered one.More Button

There are 1,100. I do not have information in response to Deputy Cullen's question. There are mixed views on this. Many are interested in reducing cigarette sponsorship of sporting events because ...More Button

They contribute excise duties to the Department of Finance which assists the Department of Health with its programmes of public expenditure on health. However, I am not aware of any direct contributi...More Button

The Deputy will be aware from his work in other areas that in terms of cigarette consumption it is very hard to estimate the point of diminishing returns. It depends very much on general conditions, ...More Button

Financial Resolutions, 1995. - Financial Resolution No. 2: Income Tax.

I am quite happy to deal with the matter that Deputy Bertie Ahern has raised if it would be of assistance to the House.More Button

Yes.More Button

I will deal with Financial Resolutions Nos. 2 and 3 but I will deal first with the matter that Deputy Ahern has just raised. I appreciate the way in which it has been raised. It has come to my attent...More Button

No.More Button

Financial Resolutions, 1995. - Financial Resolution No. 3: Income Tax.

I move: (1) THAT, as respects any payment or crediting of relevant interest (within the meaning of Chapter IV (Interest Payments by Certain Deposit Takers) of Part I of the Finance Act, 1986 (No. 13 ...More Button

They can still use the covenant.More Button

The same thing applies to a mortgage if there is a change in the mortgage tax relief.More Button

I do not propose to respond to all the points raised, but Deputy Martin raised a very interesting matter, one which occurred to the Government when considering this issue. He referred to the possibi...More Button

Deputy O'Dea and others made interesting points about people who may be affected, not merely by this measure but by the long term arrangements. In the debate of the Finance Bill Deputies may refer to...More Button

Twenty six thousand students benefit.More Button

I apologise, 38,000 people in general benefit. I thought the Deputy was referring to students.More Button

I will supply the Deputy with as much information as possible but it may take a week or two.More Button

What about Athlone?More Button

I do not know how to do that.More Button

That is quite improper.More Button

I am not an exemplar of probity.More Button

I apologise. I am still listening to what the Deputy is saying.More Button

Yes.More Button

How does that relate to covenants?More Button

Most of these are corporate covenants and they are not affected.More Button

Nothing.More Button

No, it is not.More Button

I wish to comment on a few points made by a number of Deputies in the debate. Some Deputies expressed concern about the cost of maintenance of students in third level. They pointed out, quite justly,...More Button

I know the point Deputy O'Rourke is making. I am merely putting another point. I understood what the Deputy was saying.More Button

I am putting another point which the Deputy had omitted to make which is relevant when calculating costs in regard to postgraduate students. If their means are below a certain level they qualify for f...More Button

The position was aptly put by Deputy Batt O'Keeffe where he pointed out that the abolition of third level fees will be a popular measure. To listen to some speakers one would think there was somethin...More Button

Furthermore, it is worth pointing out — and this was not mentioned by anyone in the debate and it is quite surprising — that the biggest benefit from any tax allowance and, in particular, a covenant t...More Button

In fact, a tax relief on a covenant system of support for third level education is regressive in that the more one earns, the more one benefits.More Button

The point that Deputy Ahern and others made was that we had a peculiar system of third level education support with high levels of support at the bottom of the income scale — those who were below the ...More Button

——or even lower, and I will concede the point to Deputy O'Rourke if it is 1 per cent, come from that group. It is fair to ask ourselves why that is the case because fees are certainly not a problem f...More Button

One of the ways in which that will be changed will be by the abolition of fees because the fact that third level education will now be free will create a sense that it is now accessible to people. It...More Button

I accept that from a rational point of view, as the Deputies pointed out, if they take the trouble to make the inquiries, they will find their income is below a level where the fees do not arise. By ...More Button

I may be proven wrong but I believe there will be a similar disproportionate sense that third level education is now open to all in society by virtue of the decision to abolish the fees.More Button

We should not categorise people. We should be willing to listen to an argument from any quarter, regardless of its provenance.More Button

They will certainly try.More Button

We did not bring that up.More Button

Financial Resolutions, 1995. - Financial Resolution No. 4: General.

I move:More Button

Written Answers. - Westmeath Population Statistics.

Was asked: the population in each of the years 1981, 1986 and 1991 of each area within the Delvin and Coole rural districts of County Westmeath; the population decline in percentage terms; and the plans, if any,...More Button


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