Small and Medium Enterprises: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 668 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 155 Next Page Last Page

The following motion was moved by Deputy Willie Penrose on Tuesday, 25 November 2008:

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

[905]

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  I wish to share time with Deputy Simon Coveney.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  I thank and congratulate the Labour Party for putting down this motion which deals with a serious issue, one which the Government, however, has not yet realised. Question Time and other Private Members’ business has been devoted to the problems faced by small businesses and the threat to jobs, yet there is still no action or plan from the Government. This is an emergency. Serious problems are faced by small businesses. They cannot get cash or credit from the banks. Access to credit, overdraft facilities and short-term loans are an important tool for business. Without them, business cannot function. Unless one [906]is in a cash-rich business, there is a time delay in getting payments for products but the Government still has not realised this.

I hope the Minister of State, Deputy Martin Mansergh, will get this through to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. She has not a clue as to what is going on. Last week on Question Time, it was as if she was on cloud-cuckoo-land. The Minister for Finance also seems to be unaware of these problems. Last night he stated, “The banks are very conscious of what is expected of them under the guarantee in so far as business lending is concerned.” Are the banks conscious of it? The banks are not even conscious let alone conscious of what they are doing. They are not making money available to small businesses. Businesses that have been in operation for up to 50 years, returned profits and survived through thick and thin have had their overdraft facilities slashed, getting no access to credit and, if they do, it is at a high cost with terms and conditions that are not manageable. Meanwhile, Ministers come into the Chamber, smile, talk and glide through it all. They have no real awareness of the major problems faced by small businesses.

This will all hit home in January and February when the numbers on the live register go way up. Small businesses employ the majority of the workforce. The two or three employed in one business and the seven or eight employed in another, when combined, make up to 800,000 people, according to one Minister last night. Many of these jobs will be gone in the new year because businesses will not be able to continue unless some real action is taken.

There was nothing new in any of the ministerial speeches from last night. The Minister for Finance claimed, “financial supports focus on supporting start-ups”. That is the key to the problem. We need a change of policy that will focus grants and supports on job protection to keep what we have. While we want to see more job creation, it must be acknowledged we have a duty to protect the jobs we already have and keep small businesses alive. Last week I asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to examine these matters. I do not believe she has.

Apart from making money available, there are other services the Government can provide for small businesses to get them through these difficulties. The UK Government introduced a free company health check through its Business Link service. It covers areas such as effective invoice-chasing, debt management, credit insurance, maximising cash flow, marketing and business plans. I asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment about providing such a service to our small businesses and she looked at me as if I was making it up.

Small firms have been busy trying to grow their businesses. Any encouragement they received from State agencies was to develop and market new products. They were not given the other tools they needed to do business such as proper cost accounting, debt management, invoice-chasing and so forth. Will the Government make available professional advice to small businesses to guide and help them through these tough times? Accountants are often seen as watchdogs for the Revenue. That is not good enough. Accountants are well-trained to help guide businesses through these current economic circumstances. They, and other services such as the county enterprise boards, should be paid by the Government to do this. The Government has a duty and responsibility to step in and assist businesses with the help and advice they need. I want the Government to study and copy the UK Business Link system and others to help small businesses to survive through 2009. If it does not, many jobs will be lost.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  I commend the Labour Party for tabling this excellent motion.

Protecting jobs is the key issue facing the Government. Up to 10,000 people a month are losing their jobs while next year 100,000 people will lose employment. Job protection and job creation must be central to all the Government’s decision-making, outside the provision of [907]front line services. Small businesses are the main driver of our economy. Across the country, up to 1.2 million people have jobs in businesses employing less than 50 which when combined come to 56% of the entire workforce.

Many of these businesses are facing a lethal cocktail of plummeting consumer confidence and less public spending, less business-to-business spending, below-cost selling to generate cash flow and a credit famine from banks on overdraft facilities and lending. While short-term cash flow for otherwise healthy businesses is a problem, they cannot get cash or credit from their banks to carry them through a lean period. In recent weeks more than half of small businesses have been refused access to finance or an extension of existing credit lines. Of the 46% which were successful, nearly 40% could not meet the stringent conditions attached by their banks to secure funds. Most of these businesses have been in existence for ten to 20 years or more.

Last night I spoke to a retailer from a medium-sized clothes shop in a normally busy shopping centre, who explained in desperation that his operating overdraft facility had been cut by his bank from €70,000 to €7,000. These are impossible trading conditions in which to survive. The sad truth is that many businesses cannot and will not survive for much longer if conditions do not change.

The Government has a responsibility to act. As is becoming commonplace in the face of crisis, the Government commends itself for past actions no longer relevant to current challenges while the Opposition brings forward new ideas and initiatives to meet these challenges. While the Government still bleats on about how successful its bank guarantee scheme has been in saving the banking sector, the problems needing solutions have moved on.

Capitalisation of banks, from appropriate sources, and a change of approach from banks towards releasing funds to small businesses in need of capital are required immediately. This motion calls for definitive action from Government in a way that makes sense.

However, further measures can be taken at local level to assist small businesses. This evening I call on all local authorities, which have not yet agreed budgets, to freeze all commercial rates for next year.

Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  What about Cork County Council on which Fine Gael has a majority?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Allow the Deputy to make his contribution.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  While I accept that local authorities have a difficult budgeting job to do in 2009 as funding from central government has been reduced for next year, the shortfall must not be made up by targeting a business sector that cannot shoulder any further financial burden. Increasing rates will result in job losses by pushing some businesses over the edge. I am asking managers and councillors to prioritise the protection of jobs in their budget deliberations to allow small businesses to survive the financial storm that is blowing. If this does not happen, not only will jobs be lost unnecessarily but we will damage the rate base for local authorities for future years.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  I wish to share time with Deputies Michael McGrath, Collins, Michael Ahern, Kennedy and White. It is ironic that Labour and Fine Gael support a joint motion since they cannot agree anything on joint economic policy.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  It is not a joint motion.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is a Labour motion, we support it.

[908]Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Does Deputy O’Brien not know the difference between this and a joint motion?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Deputies should allow Deputy O’Brien to make his contribution.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  I will give examples of how neither of the parties can agree on economic policy. With all due respect——

Deputy Willie Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Deputy O’Brien would not know too much. He should look after the Greens. We will put him under a cabbage.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  We had the decency not to interrupt other speakers.

Deputy Willie Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  We are not talking balderdash.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  That is a matter of opinion.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Deputies should allow Deputy O’Brien to make his contribution.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  If the Members are going to shout me down and not listen to other arguments, that is why they are in opposition for so long.

Deputy Willie Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  We listen to proper arguments, ones that are soundly based.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I ask all Deputies to allow others to be heard with respect.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  We mentioned county councils across the country. The council in Deputy Coveney’s constituency, controlled by Fine Gael, has already passed the budget and increased rates.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  It has not. Cork County Council has not done so.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  I met people from the Irish Hotels Federation today and the council has not implemented a freeze.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Deputy O’Brien’s information is incorrect. He might correct his statement to the House. He should get his facts right.

Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Deputy Coveney would know a great deal about it.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Yes, I would. Fine Gael controls that council and will control much more after the next election.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  Thanks, Deputy Coveney. I am pleased to be given the opportunity after two minutes to speak on the Government amendment to the motion. The SME sector in Ireland is vitally important to the country, its economy and society as a whole. Indigenous businesses in the SME sector employ approximately 880,000 people. It is crucial that the Government continues to support this sector in what is undoubtedly a difficult economic environment. In the past 20 years we have seen the number of people at work in Ireland double from 1 million to 2 million.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Deputy O’Brien should not give us a history lesson. He should tell us what his party will do.

[909]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Deputies should allow Deputy O’Brien to speak.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  Whether Deputy Coveney likes it, we have seen employment in Ireland double from 1 million to 2 million in 20 years. Many things contributed to this achievement but one I would like to single out is social partnership. Before the late 1980s, businesses and workers faced continuing uncertainty, strike action was the norm and for employees to receive decent terms and conditions they had to enter into local bargaining with employers. This situation led to high unemployment, economic stagnation and massive uncertainty for employers and employees in the private and public sector. Social partnership will continue to be one of the main pillars of our economy and will assist Ireland in coming through these global difficult economic times. It was the foresight of successive Fianna Fáil Governments that led to social partnership at a national level becoming the norm, ridding the country of millions of days and euro wasted due to industrial action.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Are speakers required to speak to the motion?

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  It is crucially important for the SME sector that it has certainty of pay and conditions. That is why I and my Government colleagues fully support the national pay deal. The announcement by Fine Gael at its national conference that it would scrap the national pay deal that was agreed after careful consideration by Government, employers including SMEs, and unions strikes me as a blatant example of the short-sightedness of Fine Gael and its ill thought-out economic policies.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  We were being honest. Deputy O’Brien’s party should tell the truth.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  The much vaunted potential suitors in Labour have flatly rejected Fine Gael and Deputy Richard Bruton’s plan to bin the national pay deal.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  They are entitled to.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  Last weekend, any chances of the much publicised Mullingar accord being dusted off by the Opposition are dead in the water.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  We do not have an accord with the Labour Party.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  Not only did Fine Gael wish to ban the national pay deal, it proposed that increments due to workers under previous pay deals would not be paid.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I must call the next speaker.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Thank God.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  This was another proposal rejected by Labour. No wonder that over the past 20 years, Fine Gael has failed miserably to convince the electorate that it is fit to govern.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  That speech will save jobs.

Deputy Darragh O’Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  If Deputy English did not interrupt me so much I would have had more time.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Government amendment to the important motion before us. Small and medium sized businesses in Ireland are the lifeblood of the economy, with more than 250,000 of them employing more than 800,000 people. [910] SMEs are owned and controlled by people deeply committed to their business and to the well-being of our country. We welcome the progress in foreign direct investment in recent years, and the contribution of multinationals to our country but we are at the mercy of decisions taken at corporate headquarters of these multinationals in New York and Tokyo. As an economy, we can never allow ourselves to become overly reliant on multinationals and we must place an emphasis on supporting SMEs in any practical way we can. Access to credit is essential to SMEs in our economy. Otherwise, they will not survive and the consequences for our economy will be devastating.

For this and other reasons, the Government introduced the bank guarantee scheme and subsequently the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Bill, which was approved and enacted. The full details of the scheme were published subsequently. One of the purposes of the scheme was to support SMEs by protecting the stability of the financial institutions they rely on for credit and by maintaining the overall stability of the financial system in Ireland. The guarantee scheme has been successful in restoring access to normal liquidity levels for the banks. The scheme gives the Minister significant powers in respect of the lending practices of the banks, the appointment of representatives to the board and the credit committee of the institutions concerned. By virtue of the scheme the State has greater control in terms of the operation and practices of the banks. In the public interest, the Government must ensure the banks are not engaging in reckless lending, which perhaps happened in recent years. On the other hand, the Government must ensure the normal lines of credit essential to SMEs are open. The Minister made it clear that further steps would be taken, if necessary, to achieve these objectives.

That is why we have had the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, following the examination of the loan books of the banks and the capital adequacy provisions. Arising from the report, the Minister has been in detailed discussions with the financial institutions covered by the scheme discussing, among other issues, the possibility of consolidation of financial institutions in Ireland. While the PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that the capital adequacy requirements of the six banks covered by the scheme in Ireland meet the requirements of the regulator, the reality is that the international wholesale markets have set a different barometer in respect of capital adequacy requirements for institutions to whom they wish to lend.

Some economists have pointed out that we will revert to a more traditional banking system in Ireland, whereby banks will rely on the deposits they have on hand rather than accessing credit on the interbank markets. If that were true, short-term credit may not be as freely available to SMEs in the period ahead as it once was, when banks were overly reliant on accessing credit on wholesale banking markets. The banks have been vilified recently, and some of the criticism may be justified, but without them there would be no economy because the wheels of commerce would quickly grind to a halt.

The motion refers to the European Investment Bank facility of €30 billion which the banks in Ireland can access but that relates to medium and long-term capital requirements and not to working capital. ISME and other representative groups have pointed out that it is the lack of working capital or cash flow that is causing serious difficulty for businesses. We want the six banks to access that €30 billion and provide the funding to small and medium enterprises for medium and long-term projects but it will not solve the immediate issue of working capital, and we should be honest about that. There are some important initiatives in the budget to support SMEs.

The public sector reform initiative announced today will be of benefit to SMEs also because every small business interacts with local authorities, the Revenue and Departments. A leaner, more efficient public service will benefit SMEs along with every citizen in the State.

[911]Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  I wish to speak in support of the Government amendment. To pick up where the previous speaker ended in regard to the bank guarantee scheme, it is to the credit of the Government and this institution that we set up the scheme in such a timely manner. It is a major currency to have confidence within the banking system because it is the lifeblood of all our businesses and households. Setting up the scheme in the manner in which we did was vitally important and heralded across the world as a major initiative, and we all know what happened following that. All the other countries across Europe and in other parts of the world followed the initiative taken by the Government here and the Oireachtas.

It is important to point out that the scheme has not cost our Exchequer a single euro. The banks have been allowed to trade, and there was an influx of money into the country at the time it was set, which was vitally important to keep the show on the road.

In any discussion on the banks we must be mindful that banks are in business to make money but at the same time they have to take the long-term view, and I am not sure if they have been doing that recently in terms of the small and medium enterprises. We cannot say they are out to screw everybody but the impression is that they have been screwing people and not taking the long-term view. People who had the European Central Bank tracker mortgages benefited when the rates were moving but those on the other rates did not benefit as quickly as expected.

SMEs in general are under pressure, not just from banking but from a variety of factors. Of particular concern to me is energy costs. In the part of County Limerick I represent, in the mid-west region, I can point to up to a dozen sites that have planning permission approved for wind farms but the ESB — and I have taken up this matter with the regulator — will not allow the connections to proceed for the wind farms to commence. Producing free, clean energy would ultimately have an effect.

I agree wholeheartedly with what Deputy Coveney said about the local authority sector. Local authorities have a major role to play in this area, particularly in respect of waste water charges. Not only are many local authorities charging for water going into a premises but they have introduced the new concept of charging the same amount for the cubic metres of water coming out. Small businesses are getting hit twice, so to speak.

I echo the call made in this House that local authorities should consider culling much of the unnecessary overseas travel in which they indulge. Local authorities’ core functions are about housing, sanitary services and the provision of roads. There is no need for their members to travel around the world.

Another factor that has been brought to my attention is affecting small and medium enterprises. Last Saturday a number of sole traders, small and medium enterprise people, raised several issues with me at my clinic. They spoke about the return of the black economy, which is stronger than it ever was previously, and they are quite concerned about it. My next comment should not be construed as racist because I am merely echoing what was said to me. They told me that many of the new Irish or the non-Irish nationals, particularly those in the fringe construction sector, are engaging in “for cash” type jobs. These are not legitimately registered trades people, and that practice is having an impact on the ground.

Another area where the sole traders and the small registered contractors are experiencing difficulty is in regard to banks when they look for some extended credit to renegotiate their leases and help with their cash flow.

Regarding small and medium enterprises, we must bear in mind that many of them are family run businesses. It is not just the one job, so to speak.

I welcome the 16% increase in the allocation to the county enterprise boards. In my constituency recently, the enterprise centres received three grant allocations. Croom, Ballylanders and [912]Broadford, in County Limerick, each got a capital grant of €450,000 to develop enterprise centres which are crucial. I thank the Minister for that.

I will make one point on bank capitalisation. If the banks are to be capitalised we must look at a mix. The debate is centring on whether it should be Exchequer funding, public money or private money. It might be prudent to have a mix and the Minister is taking the right approach in not rushing in with a blank cheque drawn on the National Pensions Reserve Fund and handing it over to the banks. They should be given a chance to sort out their house internally without having to use the Exchequer funding.

Critics either in this forum or outside of it will blame the Irish Government for the problems in the Irish economy but they cannot blame the Irish Government for the problems in the world economy. We are a small island nation, and we should keep that in perspective.

Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to support the Government amendment. The amendment clarifies that the Government is acutely aware of the effect of the world-wide banking crisis on the economic activity of this country as well as globally.

The Government moved swiftly to ensure that the Irish banks did not go the same way as those in the United States, Britain and other countries. It must be made clear that the guarantee scheme was not implemented to save the bankers; it was to save the money of the ordinary people who had it deposited in bank accounts. It was implemented to safeguard the banking system, which provides the lifeblood of the commerce and the economic activity in the country. Without a smoothly operating banking system, the economic life of the country would grind to a halt.

Much has been said in recent weeks about the lack of credit. As Deputy Collins mentioned, the banks are in operation to make money and lending is one source from which they get their income but recently the banks, due to their shortage of liquidity, reverted to the strict criteria they had used for many years. In recent years they did not implement that criteria. That is what led to the crisis being experienced in the country and more so in other countries, especially the United States of America. The banks were brought out of their hold by the Minister for Finance with the guarantee scheme and they must now play their part to ensure that funds are available to legitimate applicants.

In recent years the Government has taken a number of actions to strengthen the competitiveness and productive capacity of the economy. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has an allocation of €495 million for 2009, an increase on 2008, for investment in small, medium and large industries through their agencies such as Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Authority and the county enterprise boards. The increase for city and county enterprise boards for the coming year is 16%, which shows the Government’s commitment to those micro industries.

Last Wednesday, the Tánaiste launched Enterprise Ireland’s strategy for internationally traded services which will focus on the growth and development of the services sector. It is interesting to note that for the years 2000 to 2007, exports in that area increased three-fold, the largest in any sector.

The importance of small and medium enterprises was recognised in the report of the Small Business Forum. In implementing the report recommendations, the Government has confirmed the central importance of the small business sector and its commitment to that sector. Examples of actions taken to date include the audit exemption increase from €1.5 million to €7.3 million, which I authorised as Minister of State in the Department.

[913]The 2006 budget included a package of measures designed to help the small business sector, including the extension and radical improvement of the business expansion and seed capital schemes up to 2013. There was an increase in the VAT cash accounting and VAT registration turnover thresholds. That was to simplify administration and reduce working capital requirements in small businesses. The innovation voucher scheme was launched and this scheme provides an incentive to small businesses to explore new ideas. The tech-check programme was also launched and this programme provides small businesses with an opportunity to access a highly subsidised independent technology check-up and to help them to identify ways to boost their productivity and profitability.

The 2009 budget announced tax relief measures for start up businesses by way of remission in corporation and capital gains tax in the first three years of their new businesses. The introduction of the better regulation programme to tackle regulatory burdens would be very helpful to small businesses particularly. I commend the amendment and offer my support.

Deputy Michael Kennedy: Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  I want to take the opportunity to address a few issues Deputy Varadkar raised last night. I want to reprimand the Deputy for his remarks in labelling the Tánaiste and the National Consumer Agency as saboteurs. If there are saboteurs in the Oireachtas, they are on the other side of this House.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  Is it anybody in particular?

Deputy Michael Kennedy: Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Deputy Varadkar’s comments on the recent IDA survey were not constructive and were deliberately set out to misrepresent the facts in the survey, which aimed to ascertain whether IDA clients would, if given the opportunity, decide to invest in Ireland again. Deputy Varadkar stressed that according to the survey 27% of foreign companies would locate themselves in the UK or elsewhere in western Europe. He did not mention that these 27% presented a range of reasons for not choosing Ireland, none of which related to Ireland and the support of the Irish Government.

Deputy Varadkar also did not mention the 82% of companies that rated Ireland as a good to excellent location for investment. He did not mention that 75% of companies with fewer than seven years of investment in Ireland would chose to invest in Ireland once again. Nor did he mention the 50% of companies who said if they were making their original investment all over again, they would again choose Ireland as the location. Picking, choosing and manipulating survey results to suit the Opposition’s agenda to drive down the Government’s reputation in the wider global economy is an example of sabotage.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  The motion is on small business, not foreign investment.

Deputy Michael Kennedy: Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Regarding public servants’ travel expenses, I share the view that public funds should be used only for stated purposes. Deputy Varadkar is very quick to criticise but I remember a time when his attendance at a conference in Malaysia was the subject of a damning article in his local paper, The Community Voice. The trip cost €3,000 then, probably €5,000 in today’s terms, and the conference was on urban planning. Deputy Varadkar — then Councillor Varadkar — was quick to defend his actions stressing that, “Just because Kuala Lumpur is in Asia, it is hardly alien from Dublin 15.”

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  The motion is not about Deputy Varadkar but about small business. Has Deputy Kennedy read the motion? It does not mention Deputy Varadkar.

Deputy Michael Kennedy: Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  My point is that Deputy Varadkar is quick to piously dish out his criticism, but less amenable to taking it. Similarly, he is more than willing to manipulate statistics and facts to suit his own agenda.

[914]Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, this cannot continue. This is an attack on Deputy Varadkar’s character. This motion is on small business and has nothing to do with Deputy Varadkar.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Deputy Kennedy has two minutes. Deputy English must allow the Chair to run the debate.

Deputy Michael Kennedy: Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  A survey by Fingal County Council — which is in my and Deputy Varadkar’s constituencies — indicated people there are more optimistic about their future and the local economy than they are about the national economy. The Fingal business and employment survey 2008 interviewed businesses across the county of Fingal and I am delighted to say these businesses have responded very positively for the most part. Such is the positive environment for local business in Dublin North that a local enterprise, Simtech, won not just the local Fingal Enterprise Board prize, but also received the top prize at the national enterprise awards.

This positivity, despite the negativity which is fed from those on the other side of this House, will serve Fingal well as we come through the downturn. This attitude will prepare businesses to come out the other side with renewed vigour. To this end, all local stakeholders — county councils, businesses and county enterprise boards — must work together to ensure all constituency and national business interests are given the best opportunities for success in the coming months.

Regarding any recapitalisation of the banks by the Government, I am satisfied that the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, will ensure that the banks are forced to give credit to businesses and private individuals through loans for future development and overdrafts. On the county enterprise boards, I am delighted this Government has supported two very successful enterprises in my area, including a new one starting up in Swords.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  I welcome the opportunity to take part in this Government debate on economic issues, particularly focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises. In such a debate we need to focus on and recognise the positives still there in our economy and the large array of supports and schemes available for small and medium-sized enterprises. We have a dynamic and well-educated labour force. We have flexible markets. The tax burden on labour and capital is low. Our participation in the euro provides insulation against currency speculation, and there is no greater example of the benefit of being in the euro than recent times. We have a pro-business society.

Regarding support for small and medium-sized enterprises, we must remember the important role played by State bodies such as county enterprise boards. I welcome some of the representatives from Carlow County Enterprise Board here this evening. They received a 9.4% increase for 2009.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  They need it all.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  Enterprise Ireland gives financial and non-financial support, for example access to Enterprise Ireland’s overseas office network, marketing, research, technical, technology and training advice and specific programmes aimed at entrepreneurs such as the enterprise start and enterprise platform. Enterprise Ireland’s high potential start-ups division works with the regional teams to encourage regionally-based, high-potential start-ups, and that is good.

One aspect of the motion that is to be warmly welcomed is the plan to reduce red tape for small businesses. I come from a business background for most of my adult life and the small [915]and medium-sized enterprises have to put up with significant red tape, such as multiple forms from the Central Statistics Office. The farming sector complains about red tape but small and medium-sized enterprises have a huge amount of red tape and we must get rid of it.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  What will the Deputy do about it?

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  Watch this space.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I have been watching it a long time.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  There is a lot of space all right.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  Government progress in acting on the findings of the report of the Small Business Forum is welcome, for example, the threshold for exemption from the requirement for companies to have their accounts audited has increased. The VAT registration turnover thresholds have also increased. Budget measures to help businesses are also very welcome. Deputy Stagg might be interested in this. The increase in the research and development tax credit from 20% to 25 % is welcome, as are the three-year exemptions from corporation and capital gains tax up to €40,000 for start-up companies and the increase in capital spending on science, technology and innovation.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  So everything is okay.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  I want to turn to something close to my heart. This country can turn itself around when Carlow aims to be probably the first green energy town in Ireland. The environmental challenge of combating climate change is the greatest moral imperative of our time. The global green technology sector is worth €284 billion worldwide. We must grasp that potential to support our sectors and business people through identifying and investing with the Government and businesses to create jobs in the renewable energy sector. We can do this. Germany has created over 200,000 jobs in renewable energy, and with the Government’s determination to see through the establishment of the task force on green enterprise jobs, we should do it. Ireland is only at 5% in manufacturing of green technology jobs.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Now is the Deputy’s chance to do something about it rather than talking about it; the Green Party is in government.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  We are indeed and we relish that chance. We will be able to build on that with support from the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Ryan, and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, to ensure the environment is right to push through these competitive, green-collar jobs, which are lasting and long term and will not drift to low-cost economies.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We have seen none yet.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  I commend the motion to the House.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I am glad Deputy White supports the motion.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I wish to share time with Deputy Tuffy.

The purpose of the motion is to focus on the real fear that is out there — fear of losing one’s job, fear of losing one’s home, fear of the unknown and fear of emigration starting all over again. However, the opportunities in the usual economies that traditionally accommodated outward migration from Ireland are fewer now than used to be the case. The need is for the [916]Government to take a grip, to convince people that it has a plan and, if not to inspire, to at least instil confidence.

The problems confronting the Government are exceptional — the Lisbon treaty, the banks and the economy. Any one of these issues is challenging; all three together is daunting. We, in opposition, should admit that but the Opposition would not be doing its job if it did not point out the Government has contributed significantly to the depth of the hole in which we find ourselves in respect of each of the three issues. Perhaps the Lisbon treaty referendum was unwinnable at the time but it was mishandled by the Government. On the banks, the Government has gambled the country’s solvency without any tangible results for the SMEs looking for the restoration of normal credit lines to maintain employment and to stay in business. On the economy, the Government has been amazingly unsure-footed and is flying in the face of the international trend by levying higher taxation without setting out any plan for economic recovery.

The failure to communicate confidence is worsening the gloom out there. People feel the Government parties are making it up as they go along. According to themselves, Ministers only engaged with the banking crisis when our banks were facing imminent collapse. I have never believed that version but that is the version fed out by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Minister for Finance. Since 30 September, the same Ministers have prevaricated as to the correct response, indeed as to any response, to the credit famine. At first they conveyed the impression that they believed the banks’ claim there was no need for capitalisation. Gradually they have come around to acknowledge the need to address capital adequacy ratios but assert that State equity would only be considered as a last resort.

As a result we are now gambling with private equity consortia whose routine practice is to come in, make a killing and get out. The senior Ministers then echo the banks warning that even after they are appropriately capitalised, it will not necessarily follow that they will resume normal lending. We are bluntly informed by bank chiefs, whose enterprises and personal wealth have been rescued by the taxpayer, that loans to deposit ratios will determine their lending policies during the recession. The same banks demonstrated little concern for loans to deposit ratios during the boom and, in some cases, encouraged reckless borrowing that threatens our economic recovery.

The international financial tumult, falling stock markets and fiscal crises are not always intelligible to all of our people but everyone understands the fear of losing one’s job. If Government cannot persuade banks to resume normal credit lines more and more people will lose their jobs. The figures are frightening. For the first time since 1999, the number at work has declined and almost 100,000 more people are on the live register than 12 months ago. Altogether more than 250,000 people are on the live register and the figure is rapidly climbing towards 300,000. The Government’s summer time mantra that “the downturn won’t be like the 1980s” is already wishful thinking.

The last thing this crisis needs is for viable small and medium enterprises to shed workers because the usual credit lines no longer apply. From the outside, one gets the impression the bank chiefs’ response to being bailed out is to resist Government cajoling that they should put their house in order. They do not apparently acknowledge their unique position in our economy and in our society. The Government seems to be expected to support them but they do not have to reciprocate. Who is to dictate the new architecture of banking in Ireland? It appears the Government is prepared to acquiesce in private capital funds dictating the shape of banking in the future. The Government should have drawn on expert opinion to fix a strategy that [917]would determine the new architecture rather than having the new architecture imposed on it by venture capital.

For example, it would be healthy for bank customers to have a third force in Irish banking, assuming the two lead banks can be recapitalised. If leaked documents about the Educational Building Society are accurate, then there would appear to be obvious synergies between the EBS, Irish Nationwide and Irish Life & Permanent plc. Why should Government acquiesce in Irish Life & Permanent plc becoming the icing on the cake for a new private consortium buying into, say, Bank of Ireland? We will have to live for a long time with the effects of the imminent restructuring. If the Government does not get it right, awful damage will be inflicted on our economy.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  The Government needs targeted measures for different categories of people signing on in order that as many of them as possible can take up jobs. For example, more needs to be done to address long-term unemployment. Research highlights that long-term unemployed people and their families are more likely to be poor and an initiative taken by Tallaght Institute of Technology, on which my father worked, involved training the long-term unemployed for jobs in Intel. More of this type of approach is needed.

The recent quarterly national household survey showed there was a decrease in the number of men at work of more than 32,000 and male unemployment increased by 58.3% compared to an increase of 37.1% in unemployed females. The vulnerability of men to unemployment in the current economic climate needs to be addressed. The largest decrease in male unemployment was in the construction sector. There is a need to ensure older men who worked in manufacturing or construction and who were let go are given assistance to find new jobs in order that they do not become long-term unemployed. Many issues arise for men and older women in this position. They usually have lower levels of educational attainment and age discrimination is a factor. We know anecdotally many employers will not hire older people and one is considered old when one is 40. Such people are less likely to emigrate because of family commitments at that stage of their lives. We must not return to the mentality that abounded when I finished college in the late 1980s that emigration is a safety valve. Many of my friends emigrated and never returned. We lose as a society when people emigrate to other countries apart from the loss they suffer. Many of them have gone on to have successful lives elsewhere.

Youth unemployment is another phenomenon. The rate of increase among people aged under 25 signing on the live register is much greater than that for other age groups. The percentage increase in this category between October 2007 and October 2008 was 71% compared to an increase of 57% in other age groups. This suggests people aged under 25 are more vulnerable to the increase in unemployment and, in some towns, the increase has been more than 100% over the past year. For example, the increase in the number of young people signing on was 120% in towns in Cork county. There have been big increases in certain areas, therefore, measures must be targeted on a geographical basis to tackle youth unemployment, in particular.

I refer to the steps taken in the past in places experiencing serious recession and youth unemployment. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal involved measures which involved the public sector and third level colleges in providing training and work experience to young people who were vulnerable to the depression. Similarly, the French Socialist Party when it was in government took measures specifically to help young people get back to work. New schemes could be introduced similar to the social employment schemes and the community employment schemes. As one who participated in the social employment schemes introduced by Deputy Ruairí Quinn, I realise there needs to be a much higher level of quality and training as part of any such schemes.

[918]The Government needs to arm itself with information about why particular groups are more vulnerable to unemployment than others, and what their needs are in terms of educational qualifications or any other needs, so it can put in place programmes that will train them and give them opportunities to get back into the workforce. There should be great emphasis on trying to create jobs and training people for the type of areas in which we need to create jobs in future, such as the environmental goods and services sector, information and computer technology, and so on. We need to get all of the agencies to work together, including third level colleges, which are not involved in this issue at all.

To conclude, the most important point in building our economy is to provide opportunities for jobs. This is not just about the economy. The reason we want jobs is so that people have a better quality of life. This should be our primary response. There needs to be a much more proactive approach than is the case at present. We need to make sure we give the necessary training and skills to have a sustainable economy in the future.

Deputy Mary Upton: Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  I welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate, which concerns an issue that is affecting more and more people as the days go by. The loss of 10,000 jobs every month makes stark reading for those people who are affected by this recession. The last time the Labour Party was in power in 1997, we were creating 1,000 jobs a week.

The current Government appears asleep at the wheel. It seems the Government is more concerned with the bigwigs in the banks and how they will fare rather than the people who are losing their jobs on a daily basis. This includes the small industries which, it would appear, have very little support and for which little concern has been shown. The current job losses are taking place in dribs and drabs — one here, two there — in small businesses such as the local bakery or launderette. These job losses do not make the headlines and they are not headline news except, of course, for those who lose their jobs. It is a headline for them when they have to put bread on the table and pay the mortgage, or when they are in fear of having their house repossessed.

In the local social welfare offices that impact on my constituency, the following changes have occurred since May 2005. In Thomas Street, the increase in the live register is 790; in Ballyfermot, it is 612; and in Bishop Square, it is 1,736. These 3,000-plus people are concerned about the bankers and the millions they have received in payments and bonuses for a job that was badly done, because it is the bankers’ mismanagement and cavalier attitude that has landed these unemployed people in a mess, with some of them about to lose their homes.

I spoke before about the cavalier attitude with regard to lending by some mortgage providers. For example, a woman on a community employment scheme was handed a mortgage of €150,000. Anybody who knows anything about CE schemes will know there was no commitment she would have a job after the three-year stint. Her home is about to be repossessed.

However annoyed ordinary people are with bankers, they are far more concerned that a solution be found to their immediate problems. They do not want to whinge about the bankers; they want something done. Instead of working to provide a solution, the former Taoiseach is acting as an adviser to hedge fund providers who are looking to take advantage of the situation in the Irish banks. We have a Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment who is paralysed into inactivity and has not shown any initiative in helping small and medium-sized businesses that are haemorrhaging jobs on a daily basis.

The Government has not recognised the true scale of the problem facing the country. In America, the key economic debate was on the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. Here in Ireland, it is between Mount Street and Main Street. Everyone I have met recently in [919]my clinics or on the streets of Dublin South-Central seems to recognise the scale of the crisis facing us and the effect this has on small Irish businesses and the opportunities for employment.

Yesterday, I met two workers in my constituency who had worked for 30 years in the construction industry but have now been let go from good, well-paid jobs. On their own initiative, they are now doing garden maintenance and cleaning windows. They are obviously upset by this but the key point they made to me was that whatever meagre income they are making, it was because of their own initiative. There did not seem to be anybody to offer them a helping hand to set up this small business, which they had to do themselves.

We talk about a deterioration in competitiveness and its effect on business, yet the Government continues to take steps to make it more difficult for companies to trade. Bord Gáis and the ESB both secured significant price increases in September — 20% and 17.5%, respectively — yet despite falling costs, prices have not gone down for small businesses and savings are not being passed on to the customer in any real way.

The VAT increase of 0.5% will add further to price inflation at a time when the retail sector is already forecasting one of the worst years in history. The announcement with regard to the VAT cut in Northern Ireland makes Irish retailers even more uncompetitive and will only exacerbate the exodus of Irish shoppers across the Border this Christmas.

A decade after the sale of Eircom, the country continues to lack a decent and affordable broadband service for businesses to utilise, which is absolutely vital in today’s business economy. Proper broadband penetration is as far away as ever in certain parts of the country. How can we expect business to thrive when it does not have access to basic facilities?

Most small businesses are operating on low profit margins yet they are very highly regulated. I have no problem with regulation, which is important, but the level of regulation and its cost to these industries is quite damaging and prohibitive for them.

The Labour Party calls on the Government to take a number of very basic, straightforward steps to tackle the lack of credit available to companies operating in Ireland. These common sense ideas should be taken on board immediately by the Minister and should not be allowed to drift.

On a positive note, I want to congratulate Ireland Inc. on having secured the European City of Science for Dublin in 2012. However, the one point I would make is that we must put in place the infrastructure to support start-up companies in science and technology if we believe in the mantra we all repeat regularly, namely, that science and technology is the way forward.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I welcome the opportunity to discuss this important Private Members’ motion and congratulate Deputy Penrose for tabling it on behalf of the Labour Party.

  8 o’clock

I utterly reject the Government’s amendment which begins with the now meaningless Government mantra for all it woes: “that the global banking crisis is impacting on economic activity across the global and Irish economies”. The word “global” is thrown in twice for good measure in case we missed it the first time. Of course the global economy impacts on Ireland’s very open economy but Ireland’s banking crisis is essentially a home-grown phenomenon. Ireland’s banks broke all the basic regulatory rules and handed out money with the reckless abandon of a drunken punter in Paddy Powers who thinks he is winning when in fact he is losing his shirt. The Financial Regulator also went to sleep on the job.

The collateral damage caused by the banks’ negligence is now causing serious damage to the economy. Already, the Government has had to bail out all the main banks with an approximately €500 billion national guarantee and has put the country’s financial integrity on the line. This action was supposed to stabilise the banking system and attract the necessary liquidity [920]into the banks’ vaults. However, six weeks on, the banking crisis is still upon us and the credit crunch is worsening daily. The banks are not lending to small and medium-sized businesses, as ISME’s spokespersons tell us daily. The recent ISME survey shows that 54% of small and medium businesses had sought credit or a credit extension from their banking institutions and had been refused, which is a colossal figure.

The banks do not appear to have the funds to make money available or they are deliberately hoarding any money they can collect to ward off the rainy day of their indebtedness, which has been created by their overexposure to the construction industry in particular. Small and medium enterprises are the back bone of the economy. They have created hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the country and the figures provided by the Minister recently were 250 small and medium businesses and a minimum of 800,000 jobs.

However, to continue to operate they need to borrow, they need overdrafts and they need a cash flow. The Irish banking system is failing them and in failing them the banks are failing the economy and much worse, they are contributing to redundancies and the dole queues. The 95,000 job losses in the past 12 months and more than 100,000 job losses projected by the ESRI for next year is the abyss facing many Irish families for the first time this Christmas.

What compounds this awful waste of human resources is the failure of the banks to access a ready source of funding that was specifically set up by the European Union to bolster small and medium-sized enterprises throughout the 27 member states. When the autumn summit of European Union Heads of State was held six weeks ago in Brussels the European Investment Bank, EIB, placed the sizeable sum of €30 billion on the table for the banks of the 27 member states to access and loan it to their small and medium enterprises to ensure they were well resourced and did not face a credit crunch in the present financial turmoil. It was specifically for this purpose.

To date, not one of the Irish banks has bothered to draw from this invaluable pot of money while 22 of the 27 member states have grasped the windfall with open arms and are busily using it to oil the wheels of business in their countries and protect the jobs of their citizens. The Irish banks are reported to have rejected this money because it is subject to EU regulation and will not give them the profitable return they became accustomed to during the halcyon days of the Celtic tiger. Their arrogance and unwillingness to change bad habits is costing this country dearly.

Yesterday, the Minister for Finance told us that the European Investment Bank has been in contact with some of the Irish banks. Why is it not the other way around? The Minister has admitted that he has urged the banks to utilise the facility — wonderful. What is the purpose of bailing out the banks with €500 billion of taxpayers’ money if the Minister cannot tell the banks that the viability of small and medium enterprises is as important as the viability of the banking system? There must be a quid pro quo. If the banks will not draw down and lend the money that is being offered to them on a plate then what is the purpose of the taxpayer saving them from collapse? They are not carrying out the job they are supposed to do.

Ultimately the buck stops with the Minister for Finance and it is not good enough for him to save the banks and state he is doing so and then stand idly by as they revert to their old discredited and irresponsible practices. Six weeks have passed since €30 billion was placed on the table by the EIB and none of this money is circulating in Ireland, money which could now be protecting Irish jobs in Irish enterprises and which was intended for that purpose. This is another example of the European Union at its best and the Irish Government at its worst.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I commend my colleague, Deputy Willie Penrose, for tabling this motion. I sat beside him last night during his opening contribution. He spoke about the real [921]effect of the downturn on his community. He spoke about a particular enterprise in County Westmeath and the effect on the man running it and on the entire community. All of us in the House represent such communities. They look to us to do something practical about the problems they see all around them. This is why we tabled this motion.

On many occasions, we have spoken about large job losses in our constituencies. I have spoken about concerns in companies such as Dell, which is a large employer in my constituency, and other companies where we have seen 100 or 200 jobs lost. Today, an announcement was made of a total of 240 job losses in west Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway. Along with these large announcements are the small numbers of jobs being lost in small businesses throughout the country. These are having a devastating effect on the communities concerned.

By and large, this involves viable businesses which are having problems with cash flow whereby because of the recession they cannot get access to credit. Realistically, these companies will be up and running and viable again in whatever length of time it takes to come out of the recession. In the European Union it is suggested that within a year or two we should be out of the recession provided the proper action is taken by governments of the European Union. It is a real contrast to what is going on in Europe to see what is happening here. We have a total lack of action and leadership from our Government.

Prior to coming to the House this evening I was watching the news at 6 p.m. I saw Mr. Barroso speaking on behalf of the European Union about a €200 billion fund which he urged member states to use to start their economies working and move out of recession. Immediately afterwards, the RTE correspondent stated that Ireland will not use this fund because we have overspent or the Government does not want to use it. It seems crazy that for a country which was so rich so recently we are now being told that we will not participate in this European attempt to climb out of the recession. We are not seeing any positive measures coming from the Government that will pull us out of recession and create the type of positive climate that will make people believe in Irish industries and companies. We should have already drawn down money from the small business operational fund, to which the Labour Party’s motion refers specifically.

All we can see is the Government standing idly by stating it hopes the banks will decide to use the fund. We need something more proactive than this. I suggest the credit unions might draw down this fund or that the Government should do so. Small businesses in every corner of the country are looking for somebody to take action and looking to the Government. We, in Opposition, tabled this motion to encourage the Government to take action.

We see small businesses which cannot get access to perhaps €10,000 or a small amount of money in terms of cash flow. However, €500 billion is guaranteed to the banks. Despite this, there does not seem to be any way in which the Government feels it can tell the banks to do something. My colleague, Deputy Rabbitte, referred to the fact that the banks are being extremely prudent now when they were anything but prudent in the recent past when they were profligately lending in all directions without any sense of proportion. Suddenly, they have become extremely prudent and will not lend to viable small businesses in all of our constituencies throughout the country.

We see how this affects real people. I know people who are preparing to emigrate and trying to figure out how they will rent out the house, what they will do with the dog and how will they afford to get to the country where they hope they might be able to get work. We see other people trying to figure out how they will pay their mortgages when their jobs are gone. I see small business people who cannot even get unemployment benefit because they are told on the basis of their tax figures from last year they had a good income. It is not accepted that now they have no income and they are finding it extremely difficult to get basic unemployment [922]assistance. The real world is demanding that action is taken. I hope this motion is a catalyst for the Government to take the type of action needed.

My colleague, Deputy Upton, referred to the role of science. I do not think people with good ideas receive the type of practical support that is needed and I want to cite one example from my constituency. Two young men, the Collison brothers, one of whom won the Young Scientist of the Year award a couple of years ago, came up with a great idea. However, they could not get funding in Ireland and went to Silicon Valley. Their company is now worth more than $1 million.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  They did not travel first class.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  We need practical solutions for the people who are crying out for help.

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Deputy John McGuinness): Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  Like the Opposition I welcome the opportunity to debate the issues associated with the SME sector in the current economic situation with the loss of jobs and so forth. However, one cannot take this debate without considering the world situation. I understand the comments of Deputy Costello concerning the global situation, which was mentioned twice. Let us consider the position throughout the world.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  To be sure.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  No one could have predicted the Americans would nationalise the banks and that a further €800 billion would be tossed into the USA economy, that China would do likewise in the past few weeks, or that the property sector there could be as effective as it is here. We are not immune from the impact of the global economy, because we have strived in recent years to be a part and parcel of the global economy and to take the benefits from it. We are now in a downturn, as is the global economy. The United States of America, Ireland and everyone else is dealing with this financial crisis. We could not but be affected by events. The measure of the Government and the economy is how we will emerge from the crisis. I disagree with the remarks of Deputy Rabbitte who promotes fear and talks of fear this and fear that. Recovery is about building confidence. This debate has not done much to build confidence in the small and medium enterprise sector, or to encourage job creation in that sector at home and we are aware of what is happening abroad.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  We have done so.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  It is important to recognise what is happening.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  The Minister of State could listen to some of our suggestions.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  The Opposition Deputies present should examine their counties and the work of the county enterprise boards, some 35 of which are doing an excellent job. The budget in my Department has been increased by 9%.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The money is waiting out there, but there is no control over the banks.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  The budget of the county enterprise boards has been increased by 16%. Some 2,700 companies and businesses are registered each month and 1,000 of those companies are registered by women.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  We all agree on that.

[923]Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  Today in Mullingar some 4,000 women met to discuss the promotion of their businesses, to discuss how to gain from State agencies and how to gain a better understanding of ways to create and grow their business.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  They are walking away.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  They displayed a confidence in the future and in what they could achieve within their own communities and businesses by way of job creation. I take my hat off to them. However, there are very few in the House who recognise their achievements.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  That is only what the Minister of State believes.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  There are very few on the Opposition benches who recognise the work of Enterprise Ireland on behalf of small companies. They consider the reverse scenario. Deputy Stagg is incorrect.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We are asking for——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Deputies should allow the Minister of State to make his contribution.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  The question is how ones deals with the situation.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We suggested to the Government what needs to be done.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  One does not deal with it by crying into one’s beer. One deals with it by standing up and taking the challenge to the outside economies.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Minister of State should direct his contribution to the Chair and I can engage with the other Deputies.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  This is more fun.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  They are engaging with me and distracting me from the Chair. Enterprise Ireland should be used in the same way as the county enterprise boards, whereby there is seamless availability of support, funding, mentoring systems and continued education.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Minister of State should not mislead the House.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  That is what Irish business is doing. Irish business people are travelling abroad in numbers. Some €24 million was accrued in Latin America during the last trade mission and some €65 million on the trade mission to China. This was not done by Enterprise Ireland, but by Irish companies which are putting their money where their mouth is. They are going abroad and creating a footprint in those markets, which are very difficult to break. Irish businesses are not afraid to enter the BRIC countries, namely, Brazil, Russia, India and China. These people are creating a market for themselves, creating jobs for the country, sustaining jobs at home and paying taxes.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Everything is rosy in the garden.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  I recognise there is a issue with the banks.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Let us hear it.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  It is important that we record the matter. Deputy Stagg has delivered a great deal of negative comment.

[924]Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  We have not. That is very misleading.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  I would not like to be looking into his glass. Of course we must deal with the banks. I recognise there is an issue with how they draw down that money from Europe. I believe there is a necessity on the part of Government to urge and pressurise and to ensure that the small and medium enterprise sector is supported to the extent that it continues to be viable in the future.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Deputy means we should force them.

Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  The small and medium enterprise sector has created 800,000 jobs. Some 95% of these companies emerged from the activities of county enterprise boards, Enterprise Ireland and the activities of the IDA.

Let us consider the knowledge economy and research and development. Although we lost 70 jobs in County Kilkenny today, I respect what happened there. I will support the workers to ensure their rights are secured. However, there is also a positive story involving Merck Sharp & Dohme in County Carlow which is building on the knowledge economy and creating jobs. They are not politicians; they are business people putting money where their mouth is.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Minister of State should organise a little cash flow.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I wish to share time with Deputy Eamon Gilmore.

The Minister of State, Deputy McGuinness, will be making a grant available for the fairy tales of Enterprise Ireland. I congratulate my colleague Deputy Willie Penrose on putting forward such a positive motion which focuses on the need for small and medium sized businesses to get access to working capital.

Last September, the European Investment Bank, EIB, announced a new package of loans amounting to €30 billion for small and medium sized businesses in Europe. Some €15 billion of that sum will be made available during 2008 and 2009. Despite the acute difficulties faced by Irish small and medium sized businesses in accessing working capital and investment financing, there has been no sign of the banks making their share available to firms. The Minister of State gave no indication that there has been a change in the position of Irish banks, or that they would make available the EIB funding. This must happen as a matter of urgency.

The Labour Party has tabled questions to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Mary Coughlan, on the matter. She has referred to discussions with the banks and, apparently, some of the banks are considering this action. It seems the reason the banks do not wish to make these funds available is that the profit margin from such activity is not high enough. If the banks are not prepared to do it, perhaps the Minister of State, an enterprising person, could do so in the spirit of Mr. Seán Lemass? Will the Minister of State find a way of unleashing this money, as Deputy Penrose suggested? Some 22 European countries are using this fund but Ireland is not. The matters referred to by the Minister of State make no difference in this regard.

At present, small and medium enterprises throughout the country are being squeezed hard. We heard yesterday there will now be a 6% differential between our VAT rate and that charged in the North, some 90 minutes drive north of Dublin, Athlone, Sligo or Donegal. One can shop in the North a good deal more cheaply that here and such a price differential is what we are competing against.

The Minister of State mentioned the situation in the Irish banking sector. We acknowledge there is an international situation which makes the position of Irish banks especially difficult. However, it is our own home-grown construction bubble which has caused major problems. Last night, Deputy Penrose referred to long-standing construction firms, or firms allied to the [925]construction industry, which are now making redundant people they have employed for decades because they simply cannot continue to operate without reasonable support from the banks. They need working capital.

What is the solution with which Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Finance are so taken? The Minister wants to invite private equity funds such as the Carlyle Group and JC Flowers to rescue the Irish banks. This is like being rescued from a whale by a shark. What is the difference? If these groups take a stake in the Irish banks they will require the investment to be turned over or flipped within a period of three to five years. There will be substantial job losses in the short term in what was previously considered good, stable employment in the banking sector.

At the same time there is a National Pensions Reserve Fund and a National Treasury Management Agency about which the Government often boasts. However, the Government has decided to sideline these agencies rather than have them take an active role in providing a flow of credit to Irish businesses, small and large throughout the country. Those is Fianna Fáil would be well-advised to be wary of the day private equity funds come knocking on the door, posing as good samaritans to respond to our financial difficulties. The solution to our problems lies partly within our own resources. We should also take up the invitation from the European Investment Bank to use the funds it has made available. However, we should look to the resources of the State and make an equity injection into the banks that are profitable and sound, but which need to be recapitalised. Is it some kind of bizarre ideology that is holding Fianna Fáil back when even people such as George Bush are acknowledging that some kind of State investment in the banks may be appropriate to save a sound financial system? Does the Minister not recognise that if this State made an equity investment, for example, through preference shares with a coupon rate, it would be possible to convert these and then sell them at some profit to the taxpayer when we experience the upturn we know will eventually come? What I find terrifying is the mention of “made men” in all the weekend papers. They are suggesting that the former Taoiseach and people with Drumcondra affiliations are, to quote Royston Brady in the television documentary, “like something out of ‘Goodfellas’”. Made men are circling the Irish banks to offer their help by selling us out not just to venture capitalists but to vulture capitalists. Is that all the Government has to offer?

Deputy Penrose has made admirably concise and detailed proposals that would help firms of the type he is talking about — a firm that has given good employment in a rural area outside Mullingar but is now letting up to 140 people go. The Minister of State himself has a very successful record in business. I ask him to give some serious attention, in the context of his own responsibilities, to the positive proposals put forward by the Labour Party. The Minister should not be afraid of an active State. An active State would save tens of thousands of Irish jobs. The vulture capitalists will only gobble them up.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I join with my colleagues in complimenting Deputy Willie Penrose on tabling this motion, and I thank all Members of the House who contributed to the debate. The Minister of State, Deputy McGuinness, spoke just now about the need for confidence. Unfortunately, what he had to say does not give a great deal of cause for confidence in the Government’s handling of the problems facing small businesses. I refer to his description, for example, of the global economic crisis. He implied that the nationalisation of the banks by the United States Government and the injection of money into the economies of the United States and China by their Governments are problems. That is not the problem. That is the sound of other governments solving the problem, something that is in scarce supply in this country. If his only answer to owners of small businesses who are short of credit and are worried about whether they can keep going until the end of the year and into the new year is that the Enterprise Ireland mentor is at the end of the line, I am afraid that is not much comfort either.

[926]Deputy John McGuinness: Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  That is to misrepresent what I said.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is not a mentor that small businesses are looking for now. It is money and credit. It is a means by which they can keep going for another period of time. Incidentally, the Minister, in responding to this motion yesterday was also wrong when he gave the impression that the EIB funds could not be used for working capital. In fact, they can be used by way of a two-year loan, which is very much at variance with what the Minister had to say.

This Labour Party motion is a call to action to help small businesses weather the worst economic climate for a generation and to save jobs which our economy is haemorrhaging every week. There is a real crisis and it requires real, practical solutions. While members of the Government spent the last two months clapping themselves on the back for giving a blanket guarantee worth €500 billion to the banks, thousands of people lost their jobs. Almost 12,000 were added to the live register in October alone. While the Government was congratulating itself for its quick thinking in saving overstretched big property developers, hundreds of small businesses were going to the wall for want of modest credit from the bank. It has not stopped since. The Government is still congratulating itself in its response to our motion. The response commends the Government for promoting, “through the realisation of the objectives of the scheme sustainable lending practices and the appropriate availability of credit for the enterprise sector of the economy”. That is fantasy. Where are the facts? A total of 100,000 people have joined the live register in the past 12 months, the sharpest rise since records began. Buried in that figure is the story of small businesses having to shut up shop in every community, town and city in Ireland. In the absence of official data from the Central Bank, the best available information comes from ISME. In a recent survey, it found that 54% of companies surveyed had been refused applications for new finance or the extension of existing credit lines. These were not new companies, but businesses of long standing. Small businesses employ one in every four industrial workers and one in every two employees in the services sector. In all, almost two thirds of the entire workforce are employed in small businesses, the majority of which are Irish-owned. They are the backbone of our economy, and they are feeling the strain. They are feeling the strain because consumer confidence is low and nothing has been done to rally it, and because there is less money in people’s pockets and so many households in which someone has lost his or her job. Most of all, they are feeling the strain because the very banks which got a no-questions-asked bailout from this Government are now withholding normal lines of credit.

Big developers who cannot pay the interest on their massive loans are having that interest rolled onto their debt. Is that what the Government means by “sustainable lending practices”? If that is the case, where is the “appropriate availability of credit” that will sustain our small businesses and save jobs? It appears that instead of saving our economy, the banks are strangling it. It is clear the guarantee devised by the Government gave it no power to influence what the banks did with it. It can request that the banks avail of the European Investment Bank’s facility for long-term lending to SMEs, but it cannot require them to. In addition — surprise, surprise — the banks have so far refused to access it.

The likely consequences of any deal the Government strikes with the vulture capitalists currently circling our banks pose an enormous risk to our economy. Private equity is only being considered as an option because the Government has lost its nerve. Why would Ireland consider private equity investment — the ultimate in quick buck capitalism — when governments elsewhere have refused to deal with this sector? A private equity deal might address the immediate problem, and doubtless there would be another blizzard of spin about decisive action, but how are the Irish economy and the banking system to deliver the returns that private equity demands? How many jobs will be lost? How much value destroyed?

What the Irish economy needs now is a long-term view. How can the Government be assured that the public interest — that of having a bank system that serves households and businesses [927]— will not be squeezed out by the private interest of these private equity groups? What about the effect on this country’s reputation abroad? If the Government does this deal, how can any other Irish company raise money through the Irish Stock Exchange? The word will be out that when the going got tough the Government brought in private equity.

We are in the middle of a national crisis. The rate at which jobs have been lost over the past 12 months is unprecedented, and there is evidence that it is getting worse. What we need is practical action now and practical solutions that will make a difference to small businesses, which are on the brink of letting people go. The motion put down by the Labour Party calls on the Government to do a number of simple things of which it is perfectly capable. Frankly, I do not understand why it has refused to accept these. We want to establish a small business operational fund, drawing on the €15 billion made available by the EIB for lending to small businesses. If the banks will not access the fund, the State should establish some mechanism by which small businesses can access it.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Hear, hear.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  We want to help the cashflow of small businesses by having all Government Departments and agencies settle their bills within ten days instead of 30 days. The UK Government has already decided to proceed with such a measure. We also want the Government to establish a monitoring group comprising representatives of the Government, SMEs, and banks to monitor the lending practices of financial institutions, for the simple reason that the banks are telling the organisations representing small businesses one thing and then doing the very opposite in practice. There needs to be an independent mechanism by which their lending practices are reviewed. We want to strengthen the role of county enterprise boards and remove the cap on the number of jobs that can be created by them. These modest proposals should not be dealt with in a partisan manner in this House. Unfortunately, the Government is blind to the problems currently being faced by small businesses throughout the country. Rather than accepting the modest proposals outlined in the amendment and doing something with them, the Government has moved a bland and self-congratulatory amendment that will do nothing to assist small businesses and even less, frankly, for the Government’s own credibility.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 70.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret. Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinnes, John.
Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James.
Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom. Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J.
Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.

Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

[929]The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 69.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby. Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James.
Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.

Question declared carried.


Last Updated: 07/10/2010 15:26:58 First Page Previous Page Page of 155 Next Page Last Page