Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2009: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 676 No. 5

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Section 1 agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Amendment No. a1 is in the name of Deputies Burton, Bruton and O’Donnell and amendments Nos. a1c, a1d, a1f, a1g and a1j are related. The amendments will be discussed together.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I move amendment No. a1:

I ask that a list be provided of the groupings of the amendments. I have a list of my individual amendments but do not have a comprehensive list that includes those from the Minister. Is it available?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That list is on its way and will be distributed as soon as it arrives.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I appreciate that. Does the Minister have a copy of my amendment?

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan): Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I am checking that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We are dealing with amendment No. a1, a proposed new section. Does the Minister have a copy of the amendment?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I do not seem to have amendments in the name of Deputy Burton.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I have a copy of it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We must ensure everybody has a copy of all the amendments.

[77]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I would not like to have the Minister turn the amendment down because he did not have a copy of it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The amendment is in the name of Deputies Burton, Bruton and O’Donnell.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Does it begin with the words, “Any advance contributions”?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The proposed new section states:

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I have a copy in front of me. Does the Minister have a copy?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Yes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Deputy might make her contribution and the House could catch up with her.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  This amendment is similar to an amendment moved by the Labour Party on the night of the debate concerning the bank guarantee scheme and recently with regard to the pension levy on public service pensions. The proposed amendment is very simple in that it states that bankers’ pay should be capped at the same level as that of the Minister for Finance.

I do not have to explain the idea. I heard from reports of the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis last weekend that in his warm-up speech to the Taoiseach’s address, the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, described the bankers as having done great damage. He did not mean the ordinary bank staff but the people at the top echelons of the banks, those on the boards, chairpersons and particularly the senior executives and some of the people in Anglo Irish Bank who ended up, as the Minister said when the revelations about directors’ loans emerged, did enormous damage to Ireland’s reputation. The Minister for Transport is reported as having said that the damage done by the bankers was as bad as the damage done by Cromwell but that Cromwell at least did not just have a purely financial motive.

If the Minister for Finance shares the analysis of the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, and those who attended the Ard-Fheis who gave him a standing ovation — which the Minister for Finance who was there can confirm, if he can remember, as it often difficult to remember the details of Ard-Fheiseanna and party conferences as they tend to become blurred in one’s mind immediately after the event — there is now an opportunity to revisit Cromwell. I would be astonished if the Minister did not accept this amendment.

I recall the famous quote Cromwell made in regard to the King in a speech he gave to the Rump or Long Parliament in the 1640s or 1650s when he said “In the name of God, go!” I have already said in regard to the Taoiseach, Deputy Cowen, and particularly the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, that I was surprised they did not also recall Cromwell’s comments because they were famously subsequently quoted by a high ranking Tory MP, Mr. Amery to Neville Chamberlain after the disaster of Munich when Mr. Amery said that Chamberlain had done as much as he could do and that he should, “In the name of God, go!”

Given that members of Fianna Fáil were discussing bankers and Cromwell at the weekend, they might revisit the history of Cromwell. If the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis enthusiastically charac[78]terised the behaviour of some senior bankers as being in the same category as what Cromwell did to Ireland, the pillage, burnings, lootings and so on, except that this was economic damage inflicted on this country in a terrible way, why then is Fianna Fáil shy and reluctant to act? We know that members of Fianna Fáil are not normally shy, reluctant, backward or unwilling to step out into the spotlight. Therefore, it must be asked why are they so unwilling to take action against the bankers, action that makes perfect sense?

We are not being so radical as to say, as per the Roundheads, “Off with their heads”. We are simply saying that their pay should be limited to the same level as that of the esteemed Minister for Finance. His salary package before the various levies are applied is just under €240,000, his ministerial expenses from what we know are approximately €60,000 or €70,000 and every Minister has a chauffeur driven car, with the car supplied by the State. That package adds up to approximately €350,000. In the name of God, to paraphrase Cromwell, why can the pay of the bankers not be restricted and why can the Minister not do that now?

This Bill is concerned with handing over €7 billion of our money to the banks in order to rescue them. We are agreed on the principle that the banks need to be rescued, particularly our two big banks, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland, because they are fundamental to our economy. They operate in every town and village in Ireland, are critical to the supply of credit to small and large businesses up and down the country and to retaining, maintaining and stabilising employment. Jobs is what this is about.

When he was in the House some hours ago the Taoiseach confessed that the Government anticipates that the jobless total, the number of people who will be unemployed, by the end of this year may have reached 450,000. That is a national tragedy, as big I suggest to the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, as the tragedy Cromwell inflicted on this country and the damage that the bankers have done recently.

Why is the Government reluctant to limit the pay of the bankers? I have heard the Taoiseach say on a number of occasions that there is a committee of senior mandarins and other great people working on this and I understand they have been working on it since last Christmas. We were told today that we are facing another harsh budget sometime in the first week of April. We were told that the hole that the Government proposes to plug is €2 billion to €2.5 billion or maybe more in terms of income tax increases to address the fall in the tax revenue announced in the Exchequer figures yesterday, and an increase of €1 billion to €1.5 billion in spending, apparently due mainly to increases in the numbers of people signing on the live register and claiming unemployment and to increases in demands for medical cards as a result of people being unemployed.

The Minister will look to the ordinary taxpayer in this respect. Make no mistake about it, we will be looking for Fianna Fáil to address the issue of the people who got so much out of this economy in the good days and had the opportunity to avail of the tax shelters to which the then Minister Charlie McCreevy was addicted and the then Minister, Deputy Cowen, did not have the courage to close. They made the bubble in the economy worse. Yet, from what we hear from Fianna Fáil they will not be targeted, rather it will be the ordinary family, that of a husband and wife with two children in their 30 to 40s who will pay even more come the first week in April. In view of this why can the Minister not agree to cap the salaries of the bankers?

If the Minister has a better amendment I would be happy to withdraw this one. I am sure Fine Gael will also co-operate to allow the Minister to change the figure. If it comes up to €300,000 or €350,000, I will not quibble. I heard the chief executive of Allied Irish Bank say the other day that he expects his salary will have come down to approximately €700,000 this [79]year. God love him, that is terrible. He was earning €2 million or €3 million a year and his salary has gone down to €700,000.

I do not believe that the families who will have to bear the brunt of the new wave of tax increases the Government seems to be about to propose in April can accept very great pain and hardship unless there is some notion of fairness. Fairness in terms of the bankers is seeing them return and undo some of the damage they have done to the economy. We are putting our shirts on this measure by putting €7 billion into the banks. We are not saying to the bankers that they should join the dole queue and see what it feels like for the 450,000 people who may be unemployed by the end of the year but we are saying they can join a gold plated dole queue by restricting themselves to the salary, emoluments and the compensation package of our Minister for Finance. What can be wrong with that? A sign of leadership is needed from the Minister. I encourage him and I hope he can accept this Labour Party amendment.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  We tabled a similar amendment, but it does not appear to be on the list of amendments.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Is it? We have not received it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is on a separate list. There is not a consolidated list of amendments. It is a similar amendment to this amendment.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  What is it reference number?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We are taking amendment No. a1 in the names of Deputies Burton, Bruton and O’Donnell.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Okay, my apologies.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  For clarity, similar amendments being discussed with amendment No. a1 are amendments Nos. a1c, a1d, a1f, a1g and a1j.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I will speak to amendment No. a1. Our amendment is amendment No. a1.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Yes.

  4 o’clock

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I note that the Minister has stated that he has received the report on executives in the covered institutions. I ask him to make the contents of that report known to the House during Committee Stage. Perhaps we could withdraw this amendment if he let us know exactly what the report stated and we could move on the measure. The public can see €7 billion of their money being invested into the two main banks. We all wish for a sound banking system. However, the people are paying €1.4 billion on the pensions levy and will face having to pay €2 billion on the income levy alone. Many of those provisions are hitting people on modest incomes. We are looking for fairness and we tabled the motion in that light. As the Minister is now in possession of the report on the remuneration of the executives in the covered institutions, he should now advise the House of the contents of the report, including its recommendations. In the spirit of co-operation that the Minister calls for from the Opposition and which we are now bringing forth, we would like to be able to consider the report and work in partnership in terms of its contents. I hope the Minister will accept our amendment in the light of co-operation. The Minister is in possession [80]of the information and it is incumbent on him to make the details of the report known to the House today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Would Deputy Bruton like to contribute at this stage?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  No. I would like to hear the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I call Deputy Morgan to be followed by the Minister.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  My amendment is slightly different in that it proposes to insert the following:

I am sure many people know that our Ministers and Deputies are far too highly paid. In light of the significant bank of opinion that shares that view, offering to reduce the salaries of these banking executives to a level equivalent to that of a Minister is reasonable and probably far more generous than what the majority of people would like to see it. I believe they would wish to reduce it substantially more. In recent weeks we heard that one of these characters was earning more than €3 million plus bonuses per annum.

I understand that at a time when the Celtic tiger was running mad with developers, speculators and all sorts of characters coining it and making large fortunes, obviously these bankers lost the run of themselves, which is fair enough. The problem I have is that they did not even earn the money. We have only to look at the mess they have helped create around us. Clearly the banking sector has been a major contributor to the reputation that we now have internationally, where the level of trust in financial institutions is on the floor. It will be extremely difficult to improve that level of trust and begin to get the economy moving again.

I acknowledge that the banks play a pivotal role in the running of any economy. However, we need to ensure the executives have their feet on the ground. They are highly paid and contributed substantially to wrecking the economy. The least we should expect of them now is that they would take a level of salary that is supported by this House. That would send a strong message to society generally and particularly to low and middle-income earners who are hurting badly. Many public sector workers when they look at their wage slips tomorrow will see that the pensions levy will have kicked in in some cases and its impact will begin to hit home. Painful as that is, at least if people in this category saw others, particularly bank executives, sharing the burden it would be some comfort to them. This is our opportunity to send that very clear message to the bank executives and the public generally.

I have tabled another amendment on this matter. The bonuses those executives received in each of the past three years should be handed back. In many cases people were acting, to say the least, very dubiously while they were receiving those bonuses. Therefore it is my very strong view that they earned those bonuses through means other than fair play. It is critical that those bonuses be handed back.

I agree entirely with Deputy O’Donnell. The Minister has the report on the executives’ remuneration. Will he share it with us? Can he at least give us the conclusions of the report to allow us evaluate them?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  When the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Bill was before the House, many Members expressed reservations about the levels of remuneration and bonus [81]arrangements that were in operation for senior banking executives. That debate continued in the discussion on the scheme the Government drew up on foot of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act in connection with the guarantee. The Government listens to views expressed on all sides of the House. During the debate on the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Bill the concerns expressed by many Members at various times of day and night were very carefully noted in my Department and the scheme was drawn up in the light of concerns expressed by Deputies on all sides at that stage.

The decision to establish the Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee was taken on foot of the scheme approved by the House and reflected concerns raised by Members of this House. That committee has now reported. I have not as yet had time to consider the details of the report and therefore I am not in a position to put it before the House today. In any event before I take any decision on the recommendations, I propose to bring the report to Government for its consideration.

I can, however, say that the basis of the report is to consider the salaries and remuneration arrangements that apply to the chief executives, chairmen and directors of the different covered institutions, establish what the salaries in comparable commercial institutions in Irish life are and recommend scales of remuneration in accordance with that basic comparison. That is the basis upon which the committee has drawn up its recommendations. As I said they will be before the House in due course.

I wish to emphasise that this committee is not some method of kicking this issue to touch. It is the means of raising and dealing with the issue in the context of the deliberations of the House itself last autumn. That said, I appreciate that because of what has come to light in the banking sector since then, Deputies are anxious to make statements about what they deem to be an appropriate level of remuneration. However, I need to await consideration by the Government of the report and its decision in that regard. Prior to the recapitalisation decision the Government insisted on having certain preconditions on remuneration laid down. Those preconditions were without prejudice to whatever would be recommended by the committee. So, for example, Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland agreed an immediate curtailment of salary and remuneration of 33%. No performance bonuses will be paid for senior executives at the capitalised institutions. No salary increases will be made in 2008 and 2009. In addition the non-executive directors’ fees were reduced by 25%.

That was done as a basic commitment or precondition of the capitalisation itself. We are now in possession of a report that covers the salary scales, which will be dealt with expeditiously by the Government. However, the basis of the report is a scientific assessment — not a popular assessment — of what comparable companies in Irish life obtain. It is worth noting that the balance sheets, for example, of the two main financial institutions bear a substantial relationship to the gross domestic product of the economy itself. These two institutions are very important and the report should be considered in that context. Again, the matter will be brought to Government and a decision will be made on it in due course.

In so far as legislative provision is required, which is what these amendments are about, legislative provision to deal with this matter exists in the guarantee scheme. The legislative provision in the guarantee scheme is wider than any legislative provision that can be inserted here because the legislative provision inserted here would only apply to a capitalised institution which under the legislation could only be one of the three quoted credit institutions on the Irish Stock Exchange. The legislative provision that is already in existence covers six institutions and it is important that those six guaranteed institutions all have their senior executive level remuneration dealt with in an orderly way. That is what I propose to do.

[82]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister’s remarks have made me very angry and people listening in to the Minister’s comments will also be very angry. I do not know if the Minister realises how frightened, angry and despairing many people are out on the street.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Of course I realise it.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is astonishing for the Minister to suggest that the method of assessing the salaries of these people by means of a review committee of top people is a scientific method of assessment as compared with——

What was the word he used? He said it was scientific as opposed to——

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  He said “popular”.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is “popular”. There is a place in every country for popular feeling, particularly when we are listening to the representative of the government which has driven the economy into a ditch.

I recall all last summer another scientifically based report on which the Taoiseach ducked, dived and weaved for six or seven long months, namely, the report on the remuneration of higher paid public servants, including the Taoiseach and senior politicians who were Cabinet members. The consequence of this scientifically based report on remuneration for top people has been that we now have the highest paid President in the world and the Taoiseach is certainly the highest paid leader in the European Union and earns far more than the President of the United States. We also have a Governor of the Central Bank who earns more than the Governor of the European Central Bank. If we are returning to planet reality, what are these scientific assessments of top people’s salaries?

I heard the Minister of State responsible for labour affairs on RTE two weeks ago giving a very scientific comment on the salaries of people on the bottom of the scale, when he clearly suggested the minimum wage was up for consideration as being unaffordable in the context of our current economic situation. Yet, the Minister for Finance can come in here and say what he has just said. We have actually been too soft with Fianna Fáil and with this Government, which has driven the economy to ruin. It should get out now and follow Cromwell’s dictum — in the name of God, go.

There is a lengthy article in The New York Times of last Saturday which is most interesting. There is a widespread movement in the United States which has a great deal of merit, which is to look for a clawback from senior bankers in regard to the compensation they took, particularly in recent years when they drove the bond markets, stock markets and, in particular, bank shares to ever more dizzying heights, and took their compensation accordingly. While I am sure they will do so in due course, I do not know if anyone has done an analysis of the compensation packages of top bankers over the past five to ten years. However, from newspaper reports, it would appear the chief executive and chairperson of Anglo Irish Bank would in salary and compensation have earned somewhere in the region of €20 million in addition to pension contributions. We must remember that even under the revised guidelines for top people’s pensions in the private sector, it is possible now to accumulate a pension fund of more than €5 million and to have 20%, or €1 million of that paid out tax free from the pension fund of these retiring bankers. Moreover, it is a safe bet to assume their pension funds are in the many millions of euros.

I am utterly shocked by the notion the Minister would tell the House that because the net assets of the balance sheets are large, a scientific method of assessing salary is appropriate. The assets of the balance sheet are large but what we are discussing today is putting in €7 billion [83]because many of those assets have turned out to be fool’s gold in terms of loans on property and construction. In this regard, Allied Irish Banks said on Monday that the likely losses over the next couple of years may be contained, it hopes, around the €8 billion mark. Two weeks ago, Bank of Ireland said it hoped its level of likely losses over the next two to three years can be contained around the €6 billion mark. If there was any logic, not only would we not make the soft offering of keeping the bankers’ salaries at the level of Ministers’ pay, we would look for a clawback in regard to their pension funds and in regard to the money that was paid to them and helped them to indulge in utterly reckless behaviour.

Clearly, the Minister has the report. I am disappointed he was not able to share the contents of this scientific study. Does he think science is beyond us? I did not do science in school because I did not have an opportunity but I could learn pretty quickly if he would offer me this scientific report. I simply do not understand this, particularly when I saw the Fianna Fáil delegates cheering to the echo proposals that Fianna Fáil would get tough on bankers. Perhaps when Fianna Fáil is out in Citywest, it is talking to more ordinary people, the kind of people who support Fianna Fáil up and down the country, most of whom have the best interests of the country at heart. However, when it comes to dealing with the bankers, Fianna Fáil has another set of criteria and it is then scientific. This is like George Bernard Shaw with regard to scientific socialism. We now have scientific capitalism from this Minister to determine bankers’ pay.

I remind the Minister that we are now a byword throughout the European Union and the world for extraordinarily excessive payments to top people in both our public service — Ministers, the President and the Taoiseach — and our banks. Part of the recovery of our reputation will be to say “that was then, this is now” and that we have reined in these types of payments. If this scientific report is to compare salaries with other similar companies, what exactly does that mean? The average remuneration for top executives in publicly quoted companies in Ireland has drifted further and further above the €1 million to €2 million mark. When one takes into account the pension contributions which attract tax relief and which are very special arrangements — it is not like the civil servants having to pay 6% in pension levies — where they can accumulate up to €5 million and distribute €1 million of that tax free, we are being offered a suggestion that there is a scientific methodolgy in all of this. I want the Minister to re-think this matter.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I am surprised by the Minister’s response given what he has said about the need to have a dramatic change in the banking culture. Let us not forget it was by buying into risks which these executives did not understand that we are in our present position. If they had any science about them they might not have been doing this sort of thing. Bogus science was behind the enormous explosion, particularly in the way packages and derivatives were handled. Even in Ireland, this was evident in the way they were willing to price land for a potential beyond any realistic value.

It is the nature of the job in a reformed banking structure that should dictate what these people are paid, not the nature of jobs in other sections of the private sector. The point has been made, not only in this House but elsewhere, that one of the problems in the commercial world in recent years was the way in which senior executives catapulted their remuneration into the outer stratosphere, compared to what others working in their institutions were paid. This was partly responsible for the decline in the system and was a sign of a decay in the way it worked. Rather than look at the pattern of executives elsewhere who have been infected by this approach, we must look to the nature of the banker’s job in the modern changed environment the Minister is trying to establish. That should tell us what they should be paid. We should set the standard much closer to what a senior public servant or a chief executive of a [84]modest semi-State body earns. These are not people at the cutting edge of technology. Banking is an age-old system and it was done best when done on the basis of common sense and prudence. It was about trust in relationships and bankers understanding the client and his or her needs as well as those of the bank. We must get back to that.

I am not reassured by the Minister’s resumé, not having read the report. He appears to be telling the House that we can expect the top earners in the Irish Stock Exchange, or somewhere similar, to tell us what these people will get. We are in a different world. Let us not forget that what is unique about banking is that when things go wrong he and I and the rest of the taxpayers in the country must step up to the mark, take the knock and guarantee the banks. They are not on their own in a raw world where they must take all the consequences of their bad decisions. As we have seen to our cost, we carry the consequences of such decisions.

I am disappointed the Minister will not give us some insight on what is contained in the document. If he was told by this committee that he must set banking salaries towards the high end of earners in the Irish Stock Exchange, he should tell the committee “No”. What we are looking for is much more like a semi-State body, or senior public servant level, and that the banks be run on a different basis because the way banking went was an aberration. We want a much more modest approach to banking based on relationships, trust and a new model. The Minister should tell these people that if they want huge earnings, banking is not the world for them.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I ask the Minister to listen to what is being said in the House, particularly to what Deputy Burton said some moments ago. It may not be what I am looking for but she suggested ministerial level pay or something slightly above that, as proposed by the other amendment before the House, or perhaps something marginally above that again.

I am prepared to compromise and the Minister has heard the same from other Deputies. We are not trying to shoehorn him into an untenable position. We can have a conversation about this and arrive at a reasonable proposal that will enjoy the support of the entire House. That would be an immensely more practical solution than the proposed scientific examination. One must ask whether the comparable scientific examination takes into consideration that many people in these other industries are also grossly overpaid, as the previous speaker mentioned. People lost the run of themselves during the so-called Celtic tiger era. Some bankers and other characters were going around like emperors of old, for goodness sake. The only thing missing was people carrying them on a grand seat at shoulder height. It was ridiculous. They were like peacocks strutting around.

Did the group which made the scientific examination consider that the massive salaries and huge bonuses those executives were getting might well have encouraged the greed that led us into the crisis we are in now? I do not hang everything on the bankers’ necks. There was a deregulatory regime, speculators and the Government looking the other way while it all happened. However, I want the bankers to carry their fair share and I want all of us to get real about the situation and bring it back to practical levels.

We do not ask that their salaries be reduced to the level of a Deputy’s salary. I would like them to be reduced to my salary, which is not that of a Deputy. It is worth advising the House, and the Minister will know this, that the Sinn Féin Deputies and Senator take the average industrial wage. We survive on that. If we can do it why can the bankers not do the same? I do not even ask them to come to that position. We are prepared to compromise and to be reasonable in this matter.

[85]A previous speaker was right. The biggest cheer of the night at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, judging from the part I saw on television, was when the Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, said he was going to hold the bankers to account and rein them in. I am sure there would be a cheer at the same decibel level from this House if the Minister were to exercise his power, rein them in and deal with them. If we miss this chance today in the Dáil I have no doubt the gate will be open for them again. I do not see the Minister or his Government making any serious attempt to rein in these characters. Here is the chance to do it, to give public leadership and be fair and reasonable in this matter, once and for all. Even doing that is to be unfair, but none the less my party will go along with it in this case.

I hope we can go back to the good old-fashioned level of honesty within banks. I do not refer to quills or pocket watches or that kind of detail. We will settle for less than that but we want the honesty and integrity that went with that era. The bankers could demonstrate they are prepared to go there if they agreed to take the kind of salary cap we wish to impose.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  How lengthy is the report on remuneration? How many pages?

Acting Chairman: Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  The Deputy should continue.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  It has been submitted to Cabinet. That question is not in order.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  This report is critical. It was brought in with the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008 and the guarantee scheme. The Minister spoke about 33% for the banks but that percentage comes off a very high base and bears no comparison to a person affected by the pension level, be to 3% or 4%, or with the 1% levy for a person on low income. Deputies are lobbied about that.

This report is highly critical with regard to the entire area of recapitalisation of the banks. The Minister told us he has a report in his possession. I suspect it is not very lengthy and he has not told us when he got it. I would like to know when he received it. Why would it have to go to Cabinet? Why can the Minister not provide us with details in the House in respect of what is in the report?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The report was received yesterday. There was a Private Members’ motion and an amendment and an amount of legislation to bring through the House. It is open to a Minister to bring any matter of public importance to the Government for decision. This is a matter of sufficient public importance to require a Government decision. In answer to what Deputy Bruton indicated, I agree with him that this is a very important issue. This is the reason that on foot of the guarantee arrangement we put in place a scheme which provided for a scientific determination of this issue. This scientific determination rests not just on a comparison with comparable positions but also takes into account the fact, as Deputy Bruton pointed out, that these institutions are guaranteed. This is something the committee has to take into account and it also has to take into account the fact that these institutions are capitalised. All those factors are being taken into account by the committee in its report. I can confirm that much to the House because I do not want the work of the committee to be misrepresented in any way.

This is an important issue about which we are all very anxious. As I have said many times both in the House and outside of it, the existing salary levels of senior executives in banks are way out of line with appropriate and comparable norms in private sector employment. That is the reason the committee was asked to do this exercise. It has completed the exercise and decisions will be made in due course. The reference to the 35%, the abolition of bonuses, was contained as a basic commitment in the capitalisation of these institutions but this precedes the recommendations of the committee, which will now be considered by the Government.

[86]With regard to Deputy Burton, I listen to her when she is discussing accounts but when she wanders into history I become worried because, of course, that famous cry, “In God’s name, depart”, uttered by one of Cromwell’s supporters, led to the establishment of a military dictatorship in England for a period of a decade and a half. I hope her similar echo does not have a similar consequence for this country.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  It was not much worse.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I know the Minister is an historian and I am not. However, I think that was the high point of English republicanism. Last weekend when Deputy Noel Dempsey invoked Cromwell, I think it was as one republican party to another on our sister island. I felt the hand of history was hovering over Deputy Dempsey and it might have given him a clout at any point.

Is the Minister serious, a scientific report as opposed to popularism and popular discussion among the unscientific and uneducated in the House? On what planet is the Minister living? Is he afraid? Has he read the report?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Who suggested the Deputy was uneducated?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Has the Minister had the time to read the report? A bit like the Anglo report——

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The report arrived yesterday.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  One would imagine it would be hot off the presses and into the Minister’s hands and that he would be very anxious to read it. The Minister is indicating to the House that the scientific basis of this study will put these bankers on a comparison for payments with the top people in the top companies in Ireland. He indicated that these are companies with very large balance sheets with, as I said, very large holes. There are bigger holes in their balance sheets than there are in the national accounts. We are being asked to stay our hands on a perfectly reasonable amendment to cap their salaries at €250,000 by law in this Bill for the duration of the period that these gentlemen avail of the State’s hospitality of the guarantee. What could be possibly wrong with that? Is the Minister afraid that some of these guys are going to quit? Is he afraid that some of the people who brought the banks to ruin would walk out and leave because they were no longer getting as much money as they were used to? I am not sure I would be desperately upset if some of these guys took a walk. The only reason we might need to hold on to them is to find out what they were up to in order that we can try to repair the damage. What is the Minister’s reason, particularly given that the remarks of the Minister, Deputy Dempsey, seemed to get an enthusiastic reception at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis from the assembled Roundheads in the audience? They seemed to almost want it to be “off with their heads” for the bankers. They were in a real republican mood. If Mr. Michael Foot, who wrote a biography of Cromwell, had been there he would have said this was true inter-island co-operation and admiration from one set of republicans to another republican long deceased but who is regarded in England as a republican hero even if he is regarded in Ireland, and rightly so, as a terrible despot.

I appeal to the Minister to have courage. If he were to accept this amendment, would the rest of his Cabinet collapse because bankers would be restricted to around the same salary as Cabinet members? I think they would learn to live with it and I recommend the amendment.

[87]Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  One of the issues we discussed with the Minister in the committee last week was the status of people who have received very substantial pay-offs from the banks. The Minister indicated that legal advice would be required to determine the status of those payments. Has the covered institutions remuneration committee taken such advice? One of the aspects which people find extremely galling is the notion that people who were at the heart of the banks when they got into this hole would walk away and be given Rolls Royce packages even if the Minister is resolving — we do not yet know what the resolution is — to bring in a new regime. Has this been studied to see if there is scope for bringing sanity into the packages of those who are leaving?

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  There is a public expectation that the issue of the banks will be put on a proper footing now, once and for all. That expectation extends to proper regulation being put in place which will oversee these banks and which will ensure the carry-on in which they were engaging will end once and for all. The sackings the public expected have not happened. Those who have left have gone, I understand, on very good terms. There is significant public disquiet, indeed anger, about this aspect. This legislation should be a first step in correcting this mess, this carry-on and crisis in the banking sector which was largely self-created. To be paid at the level of ministerial pay should be more than adequate for any of them. It is beyond me why the Minister will not accept the amendment. The majority should have been sacked anyway.

Why will the Minister not share the report with the House? Is it confidential? What does the report contain that could be confidential if it is a scientific report, as the Minister stated, with levels measured against other industries? What is wrong with sharing that information with the House? What is the secret? Is there something that may damage the public interest to prevent the Minister publishing the report now, this afternoon? I ask the Minister to elaborate as I would be happy with that at least.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  When does the Minister propose to bring this remuneration report before the House?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  As I indicated, I intend to bring the report before the Government and that is the reason the report is being treated as confidential. This is the normal practice with reports which are brought before the Government. I do not know if there is very much I can add to this discussion because the core point is that this House agreed last October to a method of determination of senior executive pay in all six covered institutions and not just the particular institutions that are the subject matter of this Bill. I have made it clear to the House that this committee has taken into account, not alone the mandate given to it by this House, but also the fact of the guarantee and the capitalisation. On that basis the committee has recommended definite caps on executive pay which will set a guideline for all executive pay within financial institutions. That is the situation. It is useful to use these amendments as a peg for providing this discussion, but that is the position and decisions will be taken on foot of that.

With regard to the query about payments that were made to particular institutions in relation to severance, that is a matter for them. However, with regard to Anglo Irish Bank I can tell the House that, of course the board of the bank, now under public ownership, can obtain legal advice in respect of any such payments.

With regard to the Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, and the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, I would not like Deputy Burton to be left with the impression that this was some form of mutual admiration society between the Minister and Oliver Cromwell. My understanding of [88]what Deputy Dempsey said is that the bankers had visited indignities on the Irish nation similar to those that had been visited on it by Oliver Cromwell.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 76.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. 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 Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. 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 John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
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 Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. 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 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 Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
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 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 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 Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.



Níl
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 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 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 John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, 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 Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael.
Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James. 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 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 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 Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
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 Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
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.

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

Amendment declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Amendment No. a1a is in the name of Deputy Burton. Amendments Nos. a1e and a1h are related. Amendments Nos. a1a, a1e and a1h are being taken together.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I move amendment No. a1a:

The purpose of this amendment is that, in respect of any financial institution to which funds are paid out of the National Pensions Reserve Fund under this Bill in excess of a cumulative total of €7 billion, no additional money over that €7 billion will be given to the institutions unless the proposal to give them extra funding over the €7 billion comes back to the floor of the Dáil where there will be an opportunity to debate it in the House.

  5 o’clock

This is rushed legislation which is giving excessive powers to the Minister to give €7 billion today to Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland. We agree in principle that those banks must be recapitalised but as I suggested in discussions on earlier parts of the Bill, it is possible that the €7 billion is inadequate and there is a power in the Bill whereby if the amounts prove to be inadequate, the Minister might not have to come back to the House to debate that. This Minister may be willing to indicate that he will come back to the House but there is no actual requirement to do that. We are moving this amendment to ensure that if this Minister or a future Minister seeks to put more funds into these banks from the National Pensions Reserve Fund or otherwise, they will be obliged to return to the Dáil and debate it in the Dáil. The banks are getting a great deal of money and because this legislation is being rushed through the House, we are concerned that the powers being granted to the Minister in this respect are excessive.

[90]Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Fine Gael has tabled a similar amendment. The purpose of this legislation is to put moneys from the National Pensions Reserve Fund into the two main banks — AIB and Bank of Ireland — but as the legislation currently stands, can the Minister put funds into the listed financial institutions, AIB and Bank of Ireland, and Irish Life & Permanent, without bringing it back before the House? We are tabling an amendment that anything in excess of the €7 billion allocated to the two main banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, from the National Pensions Reserve Fund could be allocated only on the basis of a resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas. Does this Bill entitle the Minister to put additional funds into the listed banks without bringing the matter before the House? I commend this amendment to the House.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I support this group of amendments, one of which, a1h is my own and states:

It is a reasonable belt and braces approach to deal with this fund, which is so critical to people’s futures and pensions, and ensures is it protected at all times. I do not know why the Minister would not accept any of these amendments. They are being brought before the democratic institution and give representatives of the people their say in the Chamber. It would not need to be a long project or process. Money in excess of €7 billion could be moved to one of the institutions concerned quickly if the need arose. I have a hopeful expectation the Minister will accept the essence of these amendments.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Amendment No. a1e is grouped with these amendments in the names of Deputy Burton and me. We would like some clarification. It is extremely important to remember this is taxpayer’s money. The Minister mentioned advanced contributions in the order of €3 billion. Those contributions should be restricted purely to investment in these financial institutions with specific reference to ensure the flow of credit.

We have also looked to ensure the institutions which receive funds from the National Pensions Reserve Fund publish a quarterly report to the Houses of the Oireachtas, detailing the increased lending they have provided to enterprises and first-time purchasers. I note some Fianna Fáil backbenchers have also made this point and agreed with me. There is a 10% increase in capacity for small and medium-sized businesses within the proposed scheme and a 30% increase in capacity for first-time buyers.

We need to know exactly what the institutions will do, how many people they have considered for loans, how many loans they have granted and the terms by which such loans are advanced so that the House can see they have honoured their commitments. We need to see the number of loans they are granting, the number of people involved, the amounts granted and the number of applications refused. Ultimately, there is a danger we will lose sight of the main function of the recapitalisation of the banks, which is to ensure funds flow to small business.

We are discussing this Bill in light of the fact that the Government is now looking to find €5 billion. The worry is it will take funds out of the economy. It is critical the banks ensure we do not have a situation where there is further contraction in funds from banks. In amendment No. a1e we put forward two very straightforward measures. The first is that the advanced contributions would be specifically used to invest in the financial institutions concerned. The second measure, given the reason for this recapitalisation is to ensure the flow of credit in the economy, [91]that any institutions involved — the two currently involved are AIB and Bank of Ireland — must publish a quarterly report detailing the increased lending provided to enterprises and first time buyers to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Last night, during the Private Members’ debate, the Minister built his speech around co-operation with the Opposition. We are introducing proposals and the Minister, in terms of the remuneration committee on higher executive bankers, has refused to provide the report to the House. He effectively evaded the question, which I take to be a negative.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I answered the question.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  The Minister did not answer the question.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I said the closed matters were brought to Government in the House——

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  After it has been brought to Government, can the Minister then bring it before the House? Is he giving that commitment?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The matter will be dealt with on that basis.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Is the Minister giving a commitment to the House that we will see the contents of that report?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Of course.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I am glad to hear that. In that spirit, I hope the Minister will look favourably on the amendments we have proposed. The main issue is the flow of funds to small businesses and first time buyers. We need to see clear evidence it is happening and to date we have not. We are being asked to vote on a Bill which is giving €7 billion of taxpayer money to two institutions.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I agree with Deputy O’Donnell. The most important matter is to ensure resumption in the flow of credit from the banks to the economy and those who wish to borrow money for consumer, commercial and business purposes. That is the core objective of all our work here.

There has been a great deal of concern voiced by the Deputy, me and others to the banks about the flow of credit to viable businesses. There is a great deal of evidence of cash flow financing difficulties. Falling demand for credit has played a role but the perception of limited credit availability is very damaging at a time of fragile business and consumer confidence. That is why the Government decided to conduct an independent review of bank lending to provide an accurate picture of the current position of bank lending to small and medium sized enterprises in Ireland, and that review will report within a short time frame.

AIB and Bank of Ireland have agreed to fund this independent review, which will be managed jointly by the banks, Government and business representatives. Consultants will be appointed to conduct the review in the coming days. I agree with Deputy O’Donnell. I am not sure that changing the provisions of this legislation would have any impact on this issue. I am not satisfied it will but I share his concern and it is something we have to address. It is the most important issue of all.

Regarding Deputy Burton’s amendment, she wants the ministerial direction to be cleared in advance by the Houses of the Oireachtas. I considered this amendment carefully. The Bill provides that the Minister for Finance may give directions to the NPRF Commission only in [92]circumstances where the Minister is of the opinion, having consulted the Governor of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator, that the direction is needed to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy or prevent serious damage to the financial system.

The Minister for Finance must have that power without having to go to the House in advance. The details of any investment will emerge in the annual report or can be elicited by way of a parliamentary question, but the power must be given to the Minister to make the actual decision because it is made to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy or prevent serious damage to the financial system. It is important that a Minister can act urgently in such circumstances.

Under the credit institutions legalisation, the Minister could transfer funds to the NPRF for the purposes of investing in a listed credit institution in the context of recapitalisation, without any resolution of the Houses. Therefore, the Minister can follow an indirect route to secure the same objective. In those circumstances, I do not see any great advantage in accepting the amendment proposed by Deputy Burton, although I understand and accept the spirit in which she tabled it. I agree it is a fine question.

Clearly, were I to exercise power under the credit institutions legislation it would show in the Exchequer statements. Under this legislation it would be shown in the annual report or be elicited by way of a parliamentary question.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Is the amendment being pressed?

Deputy Brian O’Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  I am somewhat disappointed with the Minister’s reply. He made the point that if there was a serious disturbance in the economy, the Minister would have to act urgently. Such a serious disturbance would require funds beyond the €7 billion provided for in this Bill. The Minister would be able to flag his position publicly but when significant State funds are being directed to banks, it is only proper in a democratic society that the Members of both Houses would have the opportunity to debate and make a decision on what he proposed. The Minister made an argument based on serious disturbance and urgent action. Action on the legislation was not urgent in the sense that the money was not transferred immediately. The intention to do so was flagged and this brought stability. I have a serious concern about the dilution of the function of the Oireachtas and its democratically elected Members in not having a say on major decisions, which have enormous implications for the State.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  There is a willingness to accede to the request for the Minister to handle the transfer of the sum of €7 billion and give direction to the institutions. However, this is hardly loose change. How far could the Minister go beyond €7 billion, given no cap is provided for? It is fair and reasonable that the Minister should return to the House in order that Members could tease out how much more than €7 billion would be transferred and get to the bottom of all the issues. How much more than €7 billion does the Minister anticipate he might need, even in an emergency? Does he believe there is a threshold above €7 billion that would tweak his instincts to revert to the House for a debate? If the amendments are not accepted, perhaps he would elaborate on that.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  One of the main debates today is the need to find €5 billion in savings through increased taxes and expenditure cuts. However, €7 billion of taxpayers’ money is being put into the two main banks under this legislation. When AIB published its annual accounts, reference was made to the €3.5 billion being provided by the Exchequer through the NPRF in the context of its core tier 1 capital ratio. The bank has not received the money but this signal gave stability to the market. The Minister is seeking approval to amend the rules [93]governing the NPRF in order that it can take direction on investments from the Minister of the day. We cannot agree to a scenario where he or she can provide whatever amount is required by the banks without reference to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Minister will not be prevented from doing his job. If the banks require money, he has signalled his intention to bring legislation relating to this before the Oireachtas to seek approval to provide additional funds from the NPRF to the two main banks. It is extremely important that such a provision is brought before the Houses. Will the Minister clarify this?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I understand the concerns expressed by Members but we should focus on the realities rather than on abstractions. The reality is I fear the House would know all about it had I to invest or give a direction on a sum in excess of €7 billion. The Minister must be given freedom of manoeuvre regarding this legislation because it concerns investment in particular institutions. Currently, the pension fund does not seek prior parliamentary approval for the investments in which it engages, which is crucial.

When this investment is completed, the remainder of the fund will consist of ordinary shares in companies all around the world, which have been acquired for the fund or on its behalf. I have made it clear in public debate and on the record of the House that the rapid disposal of those assets would result in a considerable loss to the pension fund. A decision on my behalf to give a further direction would entail a loss to the fund itself and, therefore, would take place in considerably difficult circumstances for the State. That is the reality of the position relating to a sum in excess of €7 billion.

Deputies could retort about the borrowing option available to the pension fund to finance credit institutions. As I made clear on Second Stage, we have frontloaded the Exchequer contribution to the pension fund for the next two years to secure the bank capitalisation and, therefore, that option could not be invoked for two years at the earliest.

With regard to the practicalities of the position, a theoretical issue has been raised. The Minister must have some freedom of manoeuvre in this matter. Were circumstances so grave that the ordinary shareholdings the State holds in the fund had to the disposed of to fund further investment in credit institutions, that operation would have to be conducted in secrecy prior to its disclosure.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Under the legalisation, funds can be provided both from the Exchequer and non-central funds to the NPRF.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  That is correct.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  State assets could be sold and the money realised provided to the NPRF. In that case, taxpayers’ money would be involved but there would be no accountability. We are not interfering with the Minister’s role in dealing with the banks but the amendments provide for accountability to the Houses of the Oireachtas on the use of taxpayers’ money. The Minister stated earlier he cannot direct the NPRF on its investment. However, under this legislation, the Minister will direct the fund’s administrators to invest €7 billion in the two main banks, which is completely different. The issue is whether they can achieve liquidity on the international markets. To do so, their core tier 1 capital levels must be well above the minimum, as the minimum is irrelevant in the current environment on the international markets.

Where a 4% core tier 1 capital ratio was the norm, investors are now seeking a ratio of more than 8%. The Minister directed a number of weeks ago that €3.5 billion be invested in both AIB and Bank of Ireland. They were then able to go to the markets and state their liquidity ratios for core tier 1 capital had increased.

[94]Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  There is no direction yet. A signal was made.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  The chief executive officer of AIB clearly stated his core tier 1 capital ratio had increased to 8.5% but this was qualified subsequently as being the case after the €3.5 billion is provided by the Exchequer via the NPRF. The amendment is reasonable, as it does not restrict the Minister from dealing with the banks and giving them the security they need. It ensures proper debate on the use of taxpayers’ money.

We are being watched by people who are losing their jobs. In the past four months, nearly 100,000 more people have gone on the live register. We must explain to them an investment of €7 billion in the two main banks. The Government will increase taxes on people who are already hard pressed and reduce expenditure to correct the public finances. This is important if we are to restore the international markets’ confidence in our economy and banking sector.

We need proper accountability for further funds invested in the banks. The mechanism through which the Minister can provide the banks an assurance would not be interfered with. In the public interest and the spirit of co-operation, we want him to debate in the Houses the signing of the cheque.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I thank the Minister and his officials for their courteous and helpful briefing on this legislation. The Minister did not respond to my question on the ceiling. Section 3(c) states:

I appreciate that his officials must examine it for a moment. It appears that the potential for the Minister’s direction of the institutions’ funding will be endless. I do not know whether he would clear the entire financial cupboard into the banks were they in such difficulty, but the prospect could arise. Given the level of funding, the Minister can see why we would like an input in deciding on what amount beyond €7 billion would be invested in the banks.

I will keep talking to allow the Minister time to get his brief. Section 3(c) raises the prospect of a significant addition, as we are also discussing assets. Perhaps the Minister will elaborate.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The Deputy referred to section 3(c). I do not know whether we are speaking to that section, but I will address it. I appreciate——

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Is it not relevant?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I will try to help the Deputy. The section allows the fund to accept funds or assets for its benefit from sources other than the Central Fund if so directed by the Minister. Currently, the commission can only accept contributions from the Central Fund, which previously included a surplus of tax receipts that could have been transferred on the 1% basis to the pension fund. The Central Fund might also include the proceeds and the realisation of sale of a State company.

The effect of the section is to allow funds or assets other than funds in the Central Fund to be transferred by the State. I hesitate to give examples because we have no current proposals, but shares in State-owned companies, State-owned lands or——

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  An Post.

[95]Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  ——this building could, in theory, be transferred into the pension fund under this section.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Is the Minister suggesting that?

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  That is what I said. It is endless.

(Interruptions).

Acting Chairman (Deputy Jack Wall): Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The Minister, without interruption.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The crucial point is that there are no current proposals to do so. However, Deputy Morgan is right in that we are taking power to do so.

Regarding the core issue of the amendment, the Minister must form an opinion after consultation with the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator and only to deal with serious disturbances or potential serious damage to the financial system. Clearly, the Minister must have this power. The question being raised is why the Minister cannot be prevented from exercising the power without parliamentary approval. While I appreciate Deputy O’Shea’s point, the Minister requires this power to deal with emergency circumstances.

The example used in the amendment relates to the Minister proposing to exceed the €7 billion limit. Currently, were the Minister to issue a direction to the commissioners to exceed that limit, they would be required to sell shares, a commercially sensitive matter that could not be discussed in the House in advance. The commissioners would need to dispose of the shareholdings at the maximum possible value. The idea that we could have an extensive parliamentary debate before the exercise of such a commercial decision is wrong. It would not be desirable or in the public interest to advertise to the entire investment community that Ireland was required to fire sale some of the equities it held in a pension fund. For this reason, the power is not subject to prior parliamentary approval.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I seek clarification. The National Pensions Reserve Fund is entitled to do its business independently. If it wishes, it can invest in any asset.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  We are discussing a power of direction.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  If the Minister has that power, he will be removing the commission’s discretion. Regardless of whether he is investing funds from the Exchequer or elsewhere, he is using taxpayers’ money. Obviously, he cannot interfere with the NPRF.

This issue comprises two elements. The commission has its own role and can invest in assets on which it believes it will get a maximum return. A different situation is arising wherein the Minister will direct the NPRF to invest in banks using €4 billion of its current cash and another €3 billion in front loading. In future, the Minister might give it a direction to invest further funds or he might invest Exchequer or other funds in the NPRF. This is an important matter, given the level of funding to be invested in the banks. According to Citigroup, the two banks will require an additional €3 billion. Other groups believe the figure will be higher. The situation will arise. The Minister refers to an emergency.

The key issue is the use of taxpayers’ money. This is a question of €7 billion, not €100,000. Given the €5 billion today, the amount is put in context. The amendment is designed to ensure that the banks meet their minimum core tier 1 requirements. How much funding will flow to customers and small businesses? The Minister has pointed out that this is key.

[96]The amendment is reasonable. The Minister would still be able to carry out his functions in terms of recapitalising the banks if necessary. Given the level of funding and the dire condition of the public finances, the public would expect a debate. Every euro counts, but we are discussing €7 billion.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  The Minister’s reply made my point. He stated jovially that Leinster House could be sold to save the banks. As this Government already has sold off Aer Lingus and a Fianna Fáil Government previously sold off Eircom, a good track record exists in respect of selling off State goods.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The Eircom proceeds were put into the pension fund.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I know that. How much will it cost now to put in place proper broadband and infrastructure across the State to create competitiveness and jobs? I argue we are paying a far bigger price in respect of our competitiveness and job creation opportunities lost because of what happened then. My point is that €7 billion is more than enough. According to section 3, the amount the Minister in theory could put into the institutions is endless. This is the reason I consider it reasonable to request that a reference to this effect should be included.

Moreover, it need not be funds, as even assets can be transferred, by which I assume is meant that the value of such assets may be transferred. Effectively, they could be mortgaged into the institutions. This is the aspect that concerns me.

Deputy Brian O’Shea: Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  As for selling Leinster House, a not inconsiderable number of people would consider that to be a very good idea. I see the relevance of the Minister’s arguments regarding a serious disturbance in the financial system, the need to sell shares in a fire sale context and the need to proceed by way of secrecy in that instance. However, this must be balanced against other considerations, not least the primacy of Parliament. I take it that in a scenario in which the Minister would seek to exceed the €7 billion limit, he would be obliged to get Cabinet approval and obviously this would be done in a highly confidential setting.

While I do not intend to press the amendment at this point, I will leave it open for Deputy Burton to table it again it on Report Stage. Essentially, I am trying to balance both considerations. I can see the logic underlying the Minister’s argument in respect of alerting the market and damaging the State’s resources, were the word to go out that the Irish State intended to dispose of shares in an emergency scenario. I agree this would not be in the national interest, were this to be flagged to the markets. At the same time, I seek a way in which the primacy of Parliament and the democratic need for issues of such importance to the State to be dealt with by public representatives on behalf of the people, while listening to their views in that context, would be taken into account. I will not press the Labour Party amendment and will, by leave, withdraw it with the option of returning to it on Report Stage.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  To clarify, Fine Gael tabled a similar amendment. Has it been included in the amendment list?

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I am not aware of it. Three amendments have been linked together.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Although it has not been included on the list, Fine Gael tabled it as an amendment.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  The amendments are in the names of Deputies Burton, Bruton and O’Donnell.

[97]Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  They are different amendments.

I do not expect that those who manage the National Pensions Reserve Fund would invest in the banks of their own accord. This is being done because the Minister is directing them to make that investment.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Yes, this is the reason for this legislation.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Precisely. To follow on from this, as matters stand, there is nothing to stop the Minister from putting funds into the National Pensions Reserve Fund in the morning, if he wishes, by way of front-loading. The point is that were the Minister to invest such moneys into any of the listed institutions, the matter should be brought back before this House to be discussed and approved. It is as simple as that.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I wish to make a brief point before the Minister responds. I would not be completely opposed to giving discretion to the Minister, if I thought this threat was realistic. I refer to a scenario that was of such urgency that the Minister could not come back before the House for approval. However, our banks have been in trouble for a very long time and even under this recapitalisation proposal, they will not draw down the money until after their own extraordinary general meetings. They will not abandon procedures for their shareholders or if they so intend, Members should be informed that in these extraordinary times, the banks will set aside the interests of shareholders while dealing with the survival of their institutions. However, the Minister is asking the shareholders of Ireland Incorporated to set aside the interests of the shareholders, who Members represent, to push through this emergency measure.

I do not see how the circumstances the Minister envisages could be so time sensitive or such matters of life and death that the Government could not make an announcement to the effect that it intends to invest in X, Y or Z bank and that the Minister will go before the House in the normal way with an item of legislation to get its sanction to use the pensions reserve fund. In the normal course of events, the Government has a majority in the Dáil and in such circumstances, in which an emergency had arisen, it would be likely to have some support from the Opposition or at least an understanding. Consequently, I am unsure whether the case has been made.

If I thought the banks were going to their convocations or whatever they have — the Bank of Ireland has some highly elaborate old statutes — to state they were abandoning their procedures and that in the event of them being obliged to seek more Government recapitalisation, there would be no EGM and their shareholders would wake up one morning to find this has happened because of an emergency, in other words, if there was a quid pro quo, I then might agree that Members of the Dáil must recognise that these were extraordinary emergencies and that they must suspend their disbelief. However, I have not heard such a case being made and the normal procedure, whereby the Government gets the approval of the House for spending taxpayers’ money, should continue to apply.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  First of all, this is not a normal position. Deputy O’Donnell refers to billions of euro of investments. The NTMA issues bonds worth billions without reference either to me or the House. The State must engage in commercially sensitive operations. The lending of money by or borrowing for the State is a commercially sensitive operation. I do not arrive in this House and ask for prior clearance for the NTMA to engage in such borrowing.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Absolutely not.

[98]Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Likewise, this section is to deal with a commercially sensitive context. As Deputy Bruton may not have heard my previous explanation, I will repeat it. When the investment is made in the recapitalised institutions, the sole assets remaining in the pension fund will be equities or ordinary shares. Surely the State cannot advertise in advance its intentions to dispose of them? Any disposal of such assets must be done under conditions of strict confidentiality.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Is the Minister talking about disposing of equities or acquiring more?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  While I do not state I am minded to do this, were I to give a public direction to the pension fund to invest further in the three credit institutions, of necessity, the market then would infer that the pension fund would immediately need to dispose of an amount of its shareholding. That is a commercially sensitive operation and that constitutes market sensitive information. The Deputy is asking me to accept this amendment and disclose to the markets in advance, through a Parliamentary debate, that such a direction should be given. That is not possible.

To get around that problem, Deputy O’Donnell postulated an entirely different set of circumstances, as did Deputy O’Shea, in which somehow I would transfer funds from the Central Fund into the pension fund and then direct the pension fund to make an investment in a credit institution. I accept this is theoretically possible but this could only be done in the public domain because of the scale——

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Minister could come back before the House.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  If the Deputy bears with me for a moment, there is no market sensitivity attached to that operation because it would be done exclusively with State moneys. It would necessarily have to be disclosed by me because it would emerge immediately and in any event, in the Exchequer accounts in a matter of days. I wish to make one further point in reply to Deputy O’Shea, who grasped my point. I took great care in drafting this legislation to restrict the scope of possible investment to a credit institution listed on the Stock Exchange. I did so because, in addition to the safeguards that exist in regard to the disbursement of public moneys, there are also substantial Stock Exchange safeguards relating to disclosure in respect of investment in credit institutions. Were we required to invest in a building society, for example, that would have to be done outside the immediate context of this legislation.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I do not mean to be obstructive on this issue. The National Pensions Reserve Fund has shareholdings in companies quoted throughout the world. People are not basing their determination of the value of these internationally traded shares on the investment strategy of the National Pensions Reserve Fund. The Minister had no compunction about talking openly for weeks and months about the possibility of recapitalisation from the National Pensions Reserve Fund. This was not so highly sensitive a prospect that the Minister could not dream of releasing even a comma about the possibility it would take place.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  All my public comments made clear that such recapitalisation would be funded from realisable assets within the fund.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  We were given a figure of €4 billion and there was talk at an earlier stage of a larger sum being required. It was not clear at all stages that the Minister intended to produce the double contribution from the State in one year. I do not want to be made a fool of in this matter. There was speculation that the National Pensions Reserve Fund might [99]have to sell some of its shareholding to be in a position to make this investment. This did not happen in the end, whether because the Minister decided not to do so or because the board informed the Minister that the losses would be too great or that it was locked in at a certain price or whatever.

These proposals were not of such extraordinary sensitivity that the Minister could not dream of whispering to the Members of this House that, by the way, more taxpayers’ money might be required for the banks. The Minister, quite rightly, was open and willing in his announcements that the Government would stand by the banks and would recapitalise them from the National Pensions Reserve Fund. We on this side of the House have been asked to back off to some extent in questioning what we have been told is this very reasonable legislation because of its emergency nature. However, there is the question of the right of the House to have positive motions put before it and to have a chance to approve them. We were obliged to accept the legislation introducing the public service pension levy last week. In the case of the legislation to bring Anglo Irish Bank into State ownership, we accepted half a loaf where we were of the view that the Dáil was entitled to a greater say in how that matter was implemented. I suspect we are being sold a pup here and that it is not so highly confidential and critical an issue that the Minister could not say to the House that he intended to move from €7 billion to €10 billion or some other figure.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Any such investment by the Minister or the National Pensions Reserve Fund would come to light in a matter of days. As a matter of practical commercial reality, the Minister cannot conceal such an operation.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  The Minister is missing the point that we live in very uncertain times. It was always accepted that the National Pensions Reserve Fund would be used as a vehicle to recapitalise the banks. It is generally acknowledged by most commentators that these two banks will require further recapitalisation. It is generally accepted that this recapitalisation will come from the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  These matters are not generally accepted. The Deputy has referred to the views of Citigroup which has itself gone through three capitalisations. It is hardly an authority on the subject.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  The figures are clear. After being recapitalised to the tune of €3.5 billion, Allied Irish Banks will have a tier 1 capital ratio of 8.5%. The bank had an operating loss of €122 million in 2008 and expects further losses in 2009 and 2010. It will make a bad debt write-off of €1.8 billion for 2008 and there are indications that the figure for 2009 will be between €2.9 billion and €4 billion. These figures do not add up. The likelihood is that the bank will require additional funds. That is in the public domain. It is generally accepted that the funds will come from the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  It is not. I have not said that. The Government has not committed itself to that.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  If the banks require further funds, where will that funding be found? We cannot borrow the necessary amounts, so the National Pensions Reserve Fund is the only option.

Deputy Bruton’s proposal is reasonable. Taxpayers will not stand for a situation where more of their money is put into the banks without there being some discussion in the Dáil beforehand. It is as simple as that.

[100]Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I have no plans to put further taxpayers’ money into the banks. I made it clear at the time of the recapitalisation statement that this was our strategy in regard to recapitalisation and that the next matter we have to examine is the control and elimination of the risks associated with certain assets in the banking system. I made that clear at the time of the recapitalisation announcement.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Amendments Nos. a1b, a1i and a1l are related and may be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I move amendment No. a1b:

This amendment is self-explanatory. Its purpose is to put information into the public domain and on to the floor of this House in respect of what is being done with the taxpayers’ money that is being taken from the National Pensions Reserve Fund and put into the two banks. As a long-standing member of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service, I am aware that the National Pensions Reserve Fund produces an annual report. However, like many other such reports, it is issued a long time after the relevant year end and is, of its nature, quite generalised.

In the case of the National Pensions Reserve Fund, its annual report includes detailed reports on all the equity investments the fund makes in thousands of companies throughout the world, including tobacco and armament companies. The Minister has indicated there may be changes in this regard in view of ethics concerns. With a Green Party conference pending, we may be in a position to look forward to a stronger ethical base to National Pensions Reserve Fund investments. All the recent lists feature well known names such as Haliburton and companies with tobacco investments. I met the chairman of the National Pensions Reserve Fund at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service some time ago to discuss these matters. He undertook to follow, on a voluntary basis, the United Nations guidance code on ethical investment. I understand the Green Party, as part of its negotiations for Government, received some indication that this ethical basis might be transferred into law. That would apply to all these thousands of investments in managed funds of different types, run by the various brokers who, in effect, are investors on behalf of the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

What I am talking about in this amendment is rather different. It proposes the publication of an annual report in respect of the funding provided under this Act, which relates to the covered institutions and the €7 billion in recapitalisation funding to Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland. In addition, later sections of the Bill deal with the extension of regulation to derivative products, in particular to contracts for difference. The annual report of the National Pensions Reserve Fund will not contain any report on contracts for difference. Contracts for difference are now down the Swanee but the matters the report could refer to would include how these banks manage their affairs from a prudential and regulatory point of view.

This is our money. It would have been sitting in a pension fund for social welfare and public service pensions after 2025. This money was not to be touched until 2025 and we need to know what is happening to it.

[101]It is not beyond the wit of some clever person on the Stock Exchange, as part of a hedge fund or in a private equity company, to buy up Bank of Ireland and AIB shares very cheaply. In three years time this investor would have a controlling stake in ordinary shares, subject to the provisions of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act and the powers of the Minister under that Act. The heist of the century will be possible. In The Irish Times recently someone wrote that those in balaclavas stole only €7 million from Bank of Ireland last Friday while those in white shirts and ties have taken billions. We get understandably worried by those with shotguns and balaclavas robbing banks in the traditional way but we must be more worried about white collar criminals stealing whole banks from under the noses of the taxpayers. It is not beyond my capacity to imagine a private equity fund or a hedge fund buying the bulk of the shares at cheap prices, given that they are all but valueless at the moment, and one would be in a very powerful position vis-à-vis our Government. In two or three years time, when we hope the banks will have cleaned out the worst of the bad debts and got back to base in respect of capital, the banks become an attractive position to hold onto in private equity or in a hedge fund style for a further three or four years before selling, as was done with Eircom.

We want reports in this House on a regular basis to set out what is happening to the money we have given the banks. I saw a report by Transparency International, which sought better accountability and to combat corruption around the world. What this group had to say about Ireland was very interesting. It referred to a lack of accountability as a key weakness in our system. It has been a hallmark of this Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat Government for the past 11 years that it gives as little information as possible. Hence, freedom of information access was dramatically reduced by the Government.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  We are now a Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I am not sure that the Green Party has got involved in this, to be fair to it. God love them, they do not know where they are since they joined Government.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Deputy Gogarty gave us a description of it.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Deputy Morgan should not go there, that referred to duvets. The country prospered at the same time as the concept of freedom of information. I am not a capitalist but capitalism thrives in a free market where complete knowledge is the hallmark of being able to make good decisions on how to allocate capital among competing companies and projects. Closing down information means that we do not know how the banks are doing. One must be very skilled to understand the annual report. The Anglo Irish Bank report was 150 pages long and it told us almost nothing. There were statements about this, that and the other and the auditors told us that everything was dandy. We need the capacity to debate reports in this House or, more appropriately, before the relevant Dáil committee. We are trying to restore Ireland’s reputation and I suggest this is a course to be recommended. The Minister referred to his fears about the previous amendment and information being disclosed about what the National Pensions Reserve Fund was doing with equity holdings. Equities are on the floor worldwide. The National Pensions Reserve Fund is trying to hold as much money as possible in cash, near cash or Government type bonds. We are not in equity markets at the moment and if those in the National Pensions Reserve Fund could get out of equity markets, they would run as fast as possible to get out.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  If they could get out.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  This is a simple amendment concerning accountability. I strongly commend the amendment to the House so that the annual report will be of assistance to the [102]Minister, his officials, the National Pensions Reserve Fund and the National Treasury Management Agency to get some sense of the purpose of the rescue of these banks. It is not about the banks, it is about rescuing credit and sustaining employment. If they do not have to report to this House that objective will float away because they will concentrate exclusively on de-leveraging and rebuilding their capital and clever people will be waiting to buy up shares. In two or three years time, when the taxpayer has taken the pain, they will be ready to pounce.

  6 o’clock

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  This is a reasonable amendment although I will not accept it. The National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission is required to submit an annual report to the Minister of Finance under section 27 of the existing Act, as soon as may be but not later than six months after the end of each financial year. Copies of the report must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. Section 27(2) sets out what is required in the annual report, providing that, for the year under review, the annual report must include information on the investment strategy pursued by the commission in respect of the funds, a report on investment returns, evaluation of the net assets of the fund including the market capitalisation value of the fund and an illustration of the changes from year to year. A detailed list of the asset holdings of the fund, information on investment management and custodianship arrangements and the fees and expenses incurred in the administration of the fund, including expenses of the National Treasury Management Agency as manager, are also required. In compiling the report the commissioners must bear in mind the need for open and transparent reporting on the operation of the fund. This will ensure that the maximum appropriate detail will be made available to the Oireachtas and to the public.

I take the view that the commission’s annual report as the vehicle for informing the House on all investments undertaken by the commission is the appropriate method for informing the House on funding provided by the commission to listed credit institutions on foot of a direction from the Minister. I do not see any advantage in providing for a separate report on this aspect of the commission’s activities and I do not, on that basis, propose to accept the amendment.

I accept the valid point on the importance of information about credit institutions to the taxpayer and the public. Therefore, in the exercising of my powers under the NTMA legislation, I am undertaking to the House that the maximum possible information about investments relating to these credit institutions will and should be furnished in the annual report.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  On the basis of the assurance from the Minister and in the spirit of co-operation, we will be withdrawing amendment No. a1l.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We have not quite got to that amendment as we are still dealing with amendment No. a1b.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The amendments are being discussed together.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We will come to it presently. The Deputies do not intend to press amendment No. a1l in due course.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  That is correct.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I did not quite hear the Minister’s comments.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The information must be provided and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas already under the NTMA legislation. That was the substance of my reply. However, with regard to the credit institutions and the powers under this legislation, I will undertake to [103]the House to give a direction to the NTMA to provide the maximum possible information with regard to investment in the credit institutions as part of that annual report. I can see no merit in having a second separate report in addition to the annual report already required to be furnished under legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I move amendment No. a1c:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I move amendment No. a1d:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I move amendment No. a1e:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I move amendment No. a1f:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I move amendment No. a1g:

[104]

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I move amendment No. a1ga:

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Has the Leas-Cheann Comhairle run out of letters of the alphabet?

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I move amendment No. a1h:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I move amendment No. a1i:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I move amendment No. a1j:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Section 2 agreed to.

[105]

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I move amendment No. a1k:

This is to require the approval of the Houses of the Oireachtas and I hope the Minister agrees to it as it would show some deference to the House.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Martin Mansergh): Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  I cannot accept this amendment.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  The relevant part of this section states: “...to accept funds or assets for the benefit of the Fund from sources other than the Central Fund, if so directed by the Minister,”. This gets back to taxpayers’ property funding, and the Government would show respect for the House in making decisions. This is another form of directed investment by the Government with regard to the banks and it would be absolutely critical that they would come back to the House to get prior approval. This could involve selling off State assets but we do not particularly know what it involves. It is in line with our previous amendment in that if an amount more than €7 billion is required, approval from the House would be required.

The worry with this legislation is that we are not only giving the Government, in amending legislation, €7 billion of taxpayers’ money to be invested from the National Pensions Reserve Fund into AIB and Bank of Ireland but we are also giving the Minister for Finance the powers to invest further funds in the banks without the prior approval of the Oireachtas. We are here to represent the taxpayers of this country and accept funds or assets for the benefit of the fund from sources other than the Central Fund. What does this entail and what assets are included?

The Minister spoke jocosely earlier in that it might involve the Houses of the Oireachtas themselves. To put it in context, this is about accountability and showing respect for taxpayers’ money. It is not good enough for the Minister of State to say he will not accept this amendment or, furthermore, for him not to give an explanation for not accepting it.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  I will do that now, if the Deputy wishes.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I await the Minister of State’s deliberations.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  At present the commission can accept contributions only from the Central Fund. This section will enable the commission to accept funds or assets for the benefit of fund from sources other than the Central Fund if so directed by the Minister. This is effectively the counterpart of the power given to the Minister under section 6 to transfer shareholdings or other assets into the fund. To the extent that the Minister has power to transfer assets into the fund, the commission formally needs the power to accept them. It is a technical provision which does not justify the amendment.

More generally, the clause falls well within normal ministerial discretion, as the executive branch of Government. The Minister is accountable for any executive decisions he or she makes to the House subsequently. Therefore, the House has adequate opportunity to pronounce on it if it so wishes. We do not want to have a situation where the Minister has to seek prior approval for every decision he or she has to take.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The commission can only accept moneys from the Central Fund. Does this change now mean that, for example, a State company could be brought to the market and [106]the proceeds of it transferred to the commission? The provision opens up the possibility for the acceptance of moneys from other than the Central Fund, but what source of funds caused the change?

Who has paternity of the 8% coupon? To whom will the annual dividend of €280 million — as I understand it to be from memory — revert? Will it revert to the vehicle or to the Exchequer centrally?

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  There is no particular definition of what funds would or would not be covered. I do not want to set up lines of speculation or conspiracy with regard to any particular category. As it stands, the Deputy could put forward a range of possible scenarios but, in practice, we are not talking about anything as exciting as, for example, selling off the ESB in order to put the proceeds of it into the fund.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Leas-Cheann Comhairle might permit me to try again. It is unlikely this provision was inserted without a reason. There must be some anticipation in this regard. If I politely probe the Minister of State, he might be extravagant in his next reply. I cannot imagine the Department of Finance putting in this provision.

I had the pleasure last night of encountering a former assistant secretary of the Department of Finance, who was quite plain in his comments. He wanted to close down the country, everything except assistant secretaries, and for it to be amalgamated into one giant HSE, which would let us solve the country’s problems at a stroke. I am sure that the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, would not preside over such an arrangement but I find it difficult to believe that this provision is in place and not intended to be used and that nobody had in mind what was intended at the time.

I remind the Minister of State of my second question. To where will the proceeds in terms of €280 million per annum go?

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  The dividend on the bank preference shares, those of AIB, Bank of Ireland, will go to the fund.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  How stands the amendment?

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I am pressing it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I move amendment No. a1l:

The Minister gave an assurance in the House that he would direct the National Treasury Management Agency to give the maximum amount of information in terms of the directed investments in the banks. It is extremely important that this would be defined and that a separate section of the report would specifically deal with the overall investment rather than there merely being extracts in terms of the main report. I hope that the Minister of State will qualify the assurance given on that basis. I would like to hear his view on this. We would be willing to withdraw the amendment in the spirit of co-operation.

[107]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We have already discussed this amendment, therefore, technically, we should not be discussing it again now. Does the Minister of State wish to make an observation?

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  It is a reasonable request that this be highlighted in the overall report in regard to the NTMA so that people can see where this figures. The Deputy’s observations will be conveyed further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  I move amendment No. 1:

Section 3(e) provides that the NPRF commission can advise the Minister for Finance on a proposed investment or underwriting about which the Minister proposes to give a direction under section 19A or 19B. There is a bit of a mismatch here because section 19A deals with investment and underwriting while section 19B deals with the commission holding, managing and disposing of investments. The effect of the amendment the Minister is proposing is to provide that the NPRF commission can advise him not only on making investments in listed credit institutions but also on holding, managing and disposing of investments.

The provision on advising the Minister on making investments will allow the commission to sign contracts immediately this Bill is enacted for the carrying out of the due diligence process on Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland, and that was the primary purpose of the provision. However, it would also be appropriate that the commission have a formal function in advising the Minister on holding, managing and disposing of a shareholding in a listed credit institution.

If the amendment is made the subsection will read as follows —“to advise the Minister, whenever the Minister so requests, on any matter about which the Minister proposes to give a direction under section 19A or section 19B”.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 3, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 4 and 5 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 6 stand part of the Bill.”

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  On Second Stage we discussed the proposal to change the normal arrangement in respect of quarterly instalments to facilitate the front loading and so on for the present year and for the subsequent year in order that the total of €7 billion be realised. During his introductory speech the Minister for Finance said he was prepared to contemplate the notion of a holiday in respect of the normal deduction or set-aside in this regard. I am not entirely sure what he meant by that in the sense that if we need to front load and use it up this year and next year, the question of a holiday in the short term does not seem to arise. Is the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, in a position to elaborate on the Minister’s thinking in this? Does he envisage the 1% traditional deduction each year might be put in abeyance for a period? If he does can he outline his thinking to the House?

[108]Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  It is critical that the front loading by the Minister to the National Pensions Reserve Fund would be specifically for the purpose of investment into these financial institutions. Furthermore any of these institutions that receive funding should provide a quarterly report to the Houses of the Oireachtas detailing their lending to the enterprises and first-time house purchasers. We have had considerable talk about recapitalisation. Fundamentally the recapitalisation scheme is about funds flowing to small businesses and first-time house buyers. Within the recapitalisation scheme for the two banks we are talking about an increase of 10% in capacity to small businesses and 30% to first-time house buyers.

We still have no guarantee as to how the House will know whether these banks are fulfilling their obligations under the terms of the recapitalisation scheme. It is extremely important that AIB and Bank of Ireland would publish quarterly reports, provided to the Houses of the Oireachtas, detailing this increased lending. The reports should outline the people to whom they are providing it, when they are providing it, how much they are providing and whom they have turned down for applications. We need to know how many first-time house buyers’ applications they have considered, the funding that has been provided and whose funding has been turned down.

The problem with the Bill, including section 6, is that the legislation is very loose once it comes into being. It will be possible to front load contributions to the National Pensions Reserve Fund. However, there is nothing there to state how it is to be used. The Government is providing €7 billion for the recapitalisation of the banks, but the Bill appears to provide the power to provide extra funding through the National Pensions Reserve Fund without discussion in the House.

Furthermore section 3 provides the power “to accept funds or assets for the benefit of the Fund from sources other than the Central Fund, if so directed by the Minister”. Again, no prior approval is required by the Houses of the Oireachtas. This legislation appears to greatly benefit the Minister to enable him to recapitalise the banks at will henceforth through the use of taxpayers’ money either through Exchequer funds — borrowing is probably extremely difficult in the current climate — through use of the existing assets within the National Pensions Reserve Fund by directed investment, or through selling off non-Central Fund assets. That is not democracy. This House is entitled to know what further amounts of taxpayers’ money are being put into the banks. That is not too much to ask.

The Government will now seek approximately €1.5 billion in cuts from public expenditure which will affect services to the general public. Furthermore it will seek €3.5 billion in increased taxes. The Government is unwilling to discuss in the Houses of the Oireachtas the spending of further taxpayers’ money. It is like making an application for an overdraft facility for €7 billion and being told that one can go to whatever limit one wants thereafter. It should not work like that and it does a disservice to the House.

The Minister for Finance has been at pains to state in recent days that he wants a spirit of co-operation and wants to work with the Opposition. We have tabled reasonable amendments in terms of controlling further expenditure, so that the Government would have to get approval of the House for any further taxpayers’ money to be put into the banks. If other non-Central Fund assets are to be sold to put more money into the banks the Government should come back to the House to discuss it. Furthermore any of the front loading of contributions to the National Pensions Reserve Fund from the Exchequer, a disappointing recurring theme throughout this legislation, should be curtailed in respect of being used for the recapitalisation of the banks. I hope the Minister will take stock of what we have proposed and will come back before the House for any further recapitalisation of the banks.

[109]Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  In response to Deputy Rabbitte, as I understand it, the Minister made no commitment on the question of possible contributions being in abeyance. Section 6 amends section 18 of the principal Act in a number of respects. It allows the Minister to make the annual contribution to the National Pensions Reserve Fund in one lump sum or in several instalments. It also allows him to pay a sum of money into the fund for the purpose of a directed investment or to transfer shareholdings or other interests he holds into the fund. Such payments or transfers will be treated as advance payments of the statutory annual contribution of 1% of GNP, which the Minister is required to make into the fund. The provision will, for example, allow the Minister to provide the €3 billion from the Exchequer towards the recapitalisation of Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland.

Section 6(a) amends section 18(2) of the principal Act by removing the requirement for the Minister to pay the annual contribution in equal quarterly instalments. The National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 provides for a contribution from the Exchequer to the fund each year of an amount equal to 1% of GNP that was to be paid in equal quarterly instalments. The provision now allows for him to make it in one or more instalments during the year to allow the Minister to make the €3 billion Exchequer payment towards the recapitalisation of the two main banks. Section 6(b) amends section 18(2) of the principal Act to enable the Minister to pay the annual contribution in one lump sum or in two or more instalments which may not be equal.

The Bill does not deal directly with recapitalisation, which was announced separately. However, as part of the recapitalisation package announced on 11 February, Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland reconfirmed their December commitment to increase lending capacity to small and medium enterprises by 10% and to provide an additional 30% capacity for lending to first-time home buyers in 2009. The banks have committed to public campaigns to actively promote their lending to these sectors. If the mortgage lending is not taken up, the extra capacity will be available to SMEs and compliance with this commitment is being monitored by the Financial Regulator.

All financial institutions are required to comply with the code of conduct on business lending published on 13 February last. This code will facilitate access to credit, promote fairness and transparency and ensure that banks will assist borrowers in meeting their obligations or otherwise deal with an arrears situation in an orderly and appropriate manner. The code includes a requirement for banks to offer their business customers annual review meetings, to inform customers of the basis for decisions made and to have written procedures for the proper handling of complaints. Where a customer gets into difficulties, the banks will give the customer reasonable time and seek to agree an approach to resolve problems and to provide appropriate advice.

Under the recapitalisation programme, there will be an independent review of bank lending to provide an accurate picture of the current position on the credit flow to SMEs in Ireland and this will report within a short timeframe. Financial institutions are already obliged to follow instructions of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland in codes of conduct issued under section 117 of the Central Bank Act 1989. Those remarks should adequately meet the issues raised by Deputy O’Donnell.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  We can get carried away with the nitty-gritty of the Bill and forget the overall purpose. Politically as well as economically, the purpose is to assist the banks in functioning normally again and, in that regard in particular, unfreezing the credit lines that have been frozen over recent months.

[110]The Minister of State reiterated the point about the earlier commitments made and the fact the regulator, if I understood the Minister of State, will monitor this. I heard yesterday from an employer of some 300 people who has a turnover of €100 million. He has a valley period in the winter and a boom period in the summer and, therefore, needs assistance in tiding him over, but he was unable to get €1,000 in additional credit at this time. While I listened to the Minister of State and I know what is the commitment, and I know I have nothing to go on but anecdotal evidence, that evidence is worrying. The banks will say “thank you very much” for the recapitalisation and then proceed to address the loans to deposits ratio in their banks, which had gotten seriously out of kilter. That would not advance us very much.

Reference has been made to the famous remark that “I’d rather die than accept recapitalisation”. I am glad the chief executive in question has opted to continue living — we are all very pleased about that — but I do not think the cheque will be sent back. What the taxpayers of Ireland want to know is whether there is a way of tangibly measuring whether they are delivering on the commitments given.

I have some difficulty with the term “capacity” in any event, and I am somewhat confused that it is the task of the regulator to monitor this. I can think of many things the regulator ought to be doing, should have been doing and was not doing. However, the Minister of State said the regulator would be monitoring whether the commitments entered into as the quid pro quo, if one likes, of this investment are delivered. The Minister of State will agree it is very important that the commitments, such as they are, are delivered on and seen to be delivered on. I have seen the advertisements which are already out there. I would like to know what the reality is behind those advertisements. I am concerned at how it seems to be in conflict with the e-mails, messages and phone calls one gets about the actual experience among SMEs at this time.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  I would not in the least wish to deny the problem outlined by Deputy Rabbitte. Considerable concern has been shared by myself and Deputy Rabbitte in recent times about the flow of credit to viable business. There certainly is, as he said, anecdotal evidence of cash flow financing difficulties.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  It is real evidence.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  While falling demand for credit has undoubtedly played a role, the perception of limited credit availability, and anecdotes of actual instances, can be damaging at this time of fragile business and consumer confidence. This is the reason the Government decided that there should be an independent review of bank lending to provide an accurate picture of the current position to SMEs in Ireland. This will report within a short timeframe.

The recapitalised banks, Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland, have agreed to fund this independent review, which is being managed jointly by the banks, the Government and business representatives. Independent consultants will be appointed to conduct the review in the next few days.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 7 and 8 agreed to.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  I move amendment No. 2:

[111]

This is a technical amendment to section 9 of the Bill. Section 9 extends the tax exemption that applies to the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission to any special purpose investment vehicle established by the commission. It is logical that if the commission has tax exemption when investing in its own right, it should have that same exemption when investing through an investment vehicle.

This section deals with the commission’s exemption from exit tax on gains arising as a unit holder in an investment undertaking. As published, the subsection refers to the commission and a commission investment vehicle. The amendment will add a reference to the State acting through the commission and the commission investment vehicle to align the wording of subsection (d) with the preceding subsection (c), which deals with the commission’s exemption from DIRT.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 9, as amended, agreed to.

Section 10 agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We move to amendment No. 3. Amendments Nos. 4 to 6, inclusive, are consequential on amendment No. 3 and the amendments may be discussed together. I call the Minister.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  What amendment is it?

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is the windfall that is not a windfall. It is Ulysses.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I move amendment No. 3:

It is Ulysses, indeed. I thank Deputy Rabbitte. This is a technical amendment to allow the NTMA to wind up an investment vehicle. As published, section 11 provided for future cash flows in which the companies’ entitlement would be made over to the Exchequer and the companies wound up. The amendment I propose will mean that such cash flows can be made over to the Exchequer before the winding up is initiated. This is intended to simply the winding up process.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 were discussed with amendment No. 3.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I move amendment No. 4:

Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I move amendment No. 5:

Amendment agreed to.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I move amendment No. 6:

Amendment agreed to.

Section 11, as amended, agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 12 stand part of the Bill.”

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  This section deals with regulation for specific financial instruments. I suspect one area of it relates to contracts for difference. I refer to section 12(4): “Every regulation under subsection (2) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas”. Is the Minister willing to change “laid before” to “approved by”? This entire area, concerning the regulation of financial instruments, has caused a considerable degree of concern for the general public. When one considers the role that contracts for difference have played in contributing difficulties in our banking sector——

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Is there an amendment before the House?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There is no amendment before us. We are dealing with the section——

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  I am speaking on the section.

[113]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There will be an opportunity to table amendments on Report Stage and if a Deputy intends to submit an amendment——

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Can I submit an amendment on the floor?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That should be indicated on Committee Stage. Deputy O’Donnell can submit an amendment on Report Stage.

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  Yes. I raise the matter now and the Minister might take this into consideration. I shall submit an amendment on Report Stage.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I welcomed this section of the Bill on Second Stage. It brings a long overdue measure of transparency to these types of financial instruments. I presume the Minister has in mind, particularly, contracts for difference which comprise such a surprisingly high volume of transactions on the Stock Exchange. Reading interesting profiles of some of our leading developers over recent days, one finds some of them had significant resort to the use of contracts for difference over recent years.

I address this section in order to query the Minister. There was a modicum of controversy in the House recently about the Taoiseach who, as Minister for Finance, decided against the imposition of a tax on this instrument. What is the up-to-date view on that issue and on the use of CFDs in any case? Presumably they do not preoccupy the Department this week and will not next week but nonetheless I am interested to know what is the view. Does the Minister acknowledge, in retrospect, that if a modest imposition had been imposed at that time it might well have played a role in putting out the fire? It was not imposed. Other than requiring transparency in future and that the market and the regulator should be advised, this section does not do much more than that. It is purely a requirement to be transparent but does not comment one way or another beyond that concerning the desirability of this type of instrument and the extent to which it was resorted to in the recent past.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  It is welcome that there would be more transparency about trade and contracts for difference. I imagine there is quite an amount of rethinking about the regulation of various types of derivative. Does the Minister propose this as a catch-all section by which he can make regulations of a very wide variety in line with what he and his colleagues decide is the future regulatory approach or is it a forensically limited section?

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Deputy O’Donnell raised the question of the machinery for approval of the regulations. There is provision in this section that every regulation made under subsection (2) shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made. There is the option before the House to annul the regulations. That is a power given to the Oireachtas and therefore it is not correct to say there is no parliamentary oversight or scrutiny. I do not believe the matter is so exceptionable as to require prior approval by the Houses. I believe everybody would agree with the intent of what is proposed here. If there is a technical defect in what is done it can be dealt with by way of a motion to annul the regulation.

Concerning Deputy Rabbitte’s question about the tax treatment of contracts for difference, the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, received very strong advice from a number of interested parties that this would be undesirable and would have less than beneficial economic results for the country, had he provided for their taxation. That has all been in the public domain already.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I do not raise it in that context.

[114]Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I appreciate that but I am not in a position to advise Deputy Rabbitte of my position on this issue today. I will communicate with the Deputy but am not in a position to give a finalised fiscal assessment on the issue to him today.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is fair to say that the advice taken by the Taoiseach at the time did not come from disinterested parties.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  That is always one of the great difficulties with all economic advice — it tends not to come from disinterested parties. A number of financial instruments are available which can be used to acquire these positions in the shares of publicly listed companies without acquiring direct control of them. Clearly these instruments are used increasingly by investors to avoid disclosure of their economic interests in particular companies. There has been particular controversy about contracts for difference. However, the section is drafted to be wide enough to capture other instruments which had that intention. I am not sure it is designed to go beyond that.

The Financial Regulator and the Irish Stock Exchange are very keen that a disclosure regime for CFD trades should be put in place. The establishment of such a regime would require primary legislation because there are no EU provisions in this area. Powers to require disclosure do not exist yet in the domestic legislation. The regulator and the Stock Exchange are of the view that the Minister should be given the power to introduce market disclosure requirements relating to any financial instruments where it is necessary to ensure fair, orderly or transparent trading conditions.

Although the genesis of this proposal relates to CFDs, in my opinion it is not prudent to confine it explicitly to a CFD as the nature of financial instruments changes constantly and other financial instruments can quickly become the focus of trading activity. Consequently, a broad provision in terms of financial instruments in general is required and detailed provisions will be set out in the regulations. The enclosed draft head would enable the Minister to make regulations requiring those who have transacted in financial instruments to disclose certain information relating to those transactions to the regulator or the market. It is an enabling provision which can be extended to all financial instruments to cover future market developments.

At this stage there is no immediate expectation of regulations being required for instruments other than contracts for difference. There is a degree of urgency because the United Kingdom is expected to announce a disclosure regime shortly, with a view to introducing the new regime later in the year. Given that some Irish stocks are listed also in the London stock exchange it is important that we should be able to react swiftly to any UK moves. The Financial Regulator receives information on some of these instruments if they are regulated by an Irish firm. However, the great bulk of contracts for difference business takes place abroad, especially in London. The regulator has a reciprocal arrangement with the United Kingdom financial services authority to receive some information on those trades. However, this is limited and it means that the London market and the contracts for difference in Irish shares cannot be supervised effectively at this time. The strengthening of the regime of control both here and in the United Kingdom is of importance and we will continue to raise these matters with the United Kingdom authorities.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I remind Deputies that it will be possible to submit Report [115]Stage amendments on the floor of the House but if Private Members’ business intervenes prior to the commencement of Report Stage, I ask Members to submit any amendments in writing.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  I move amendment No. 7:

This amendment relates to inserting a commencement provision in the legislation. The reason for the introduction of a commencement provision is a courtesy to the EU Commission, as the measure has not received final approval.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 13, as amended, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  In order to avoid a delay and conduct business in a structured way as there is no time lapse between Committee and Report Stages, I propose calling the sections although this is not normal procedure for Report Stage.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I ask the Minister to reconsider the issue of whether the Oireachtas would hear if the Minister was advancing further sums. I wish to explore this a little further if possible. I do not know when this measure is due to be considered. There is a similar amendment to ours in the name of Deputy Arthur Morgan which states: “The Minister shall not direct the Commission to use funds from the National Pensions Reserve Fund in excess of €7 billion for the purpose of investing in any financial institution without the consent of both Houses of the Oireachtas.”

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan): Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  We spoke about this on Committee Stage.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Yes, we did. As I understand the Minister’s argument is that if he had to come back to the House for approval, he would be signalling to the National Pensions Reserve Fund that it had to sell shares. Signalling this to the National Pensions Reserve Fund would send a terrible message to the markets and the fund would not be able to realise the value of its shares because the Minister had the temerity to tell the Dáil that he was proposing to put more money into the banks. I do not think this is credible. I do not think the events of the past months since September suggest it is credible nor do I think the markets would respond. I know the National Pensions Reserve Fund has its shares scattered over thousands of shareholdings within which it is only a tiny shareholder in any single event. No one is hanging on the moment when the National Pensions Reserve Fund decides it will sell its outer Mongolian share in diamond mining because it just does not work like that. The Minister would be perfectly entitled, in my view, to come to the shareholders of Ireland Inc. just as the banks will be holding extraordinary general meetings for their shareholdings and warning that the Minister will be diluting their shareholdings by putting in more money into the company. They will be looking for shareholders to approve that. I see this in a similar way.

[116]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We are on Report Stage. The amendment to which the Deputy refers has been negatived on Committee Stage so it is not appropriate to resubmit it on Report Stage. I wanted to give some leeway to the Deputy to make a point but we cannot have a debate on it again. I think the reference is made.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I take it the Minister will respond.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Is the amendment being moved?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  No. The amendment had already been discussed and negatived on Committee Stage so it cannot be resubmitted on Report Stage.

There are no amendments on Report Stage so we will move on to Fifth Stage.

Bill received for final consideration.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I am worried about the matter I just raised as a non-Report Stage amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We are now on Fifth Stage and the Deputy may make a general observation.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I reiterate the general observation that I am not entirely convinced of the confidentiality and urgency that would prevent the Minister coming back to the House were he disposed to put more capital into the banks than he has to date indicated.

  7 o’clock

Minister for Finance (Deputy Brian Lenihan): Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  At this late stage, the best course for me would be to undertake to the House that subject to any requirements of confidentiality, I will inform the House in advance of any such investment but I cannot absolutely guarantee it in the circumstances. I take the point made by Deputy Bruton that a particular share sale might not have any particular share sensitivity but the size of the pension fund is such that the intimation that the entire fund, for example, might be disposed of, would be a significant matter in world markets.

Question put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 74; Níl, 62.

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 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 John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. 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 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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, 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 Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. 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 Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. 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 Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
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 Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
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 James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
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 Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. 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 John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
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 Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. 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 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 Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
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 Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies David Stanton and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.


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