Corporation Tax: Motion (Resumed)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 728 No. 4

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Michéal Martin on Tuesday, 22 March 2011:

Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:

[436]

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Ireland is in crisis. In American politics there is a saying, “Never waste a good crisis”. This means that a crisis is a good opportunity to push through policy which would normally be unpalatable to the people. President Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany angered many European leaders earlier this year when they drew up a six-point competitive pact without consulting their peers. This precursor to the pact for the euro raised suspicions that Europe’s two most important leaders were using the current crisis as cover for driving through long-held and previously unrealisable goals.

The reality is that Europe is in crisis. This is a European problem. In January the six covered Irish banks owed €93 billion to the ECB. This arose because it had allowed insolvent or, in some cases, potentially insolvent banks and institutions to pay off private international bondholders. As a result, the position in Ireland became unsustainable and we were obliged to accept a bailout from the European Union and the IMF. The issuing of payments to bondholders was a prerequisite under the terms and conditions of the EU-IMF bailout. The European goal that governments should continue to back all senior bank liabilities is neither fair to taxpayers nor credible to the markets.

Sinn Féin has always maintained that the bailout fund is not about restoring growth or competitiveness to the economy. On the day on which the rescue package for Greece was agreed, the value of French banks rose by 24%. One can see, therefore, what the bailouts are really about, namely, rescuing the banks of the core European countries.

The European Financial Stability Fund, EFSF, can provide liquidity for Irish banks, but it cannot make them solvent. In order to maintain solvency, Ireland requires a return to solid growth. However, as a result of extreme fiscal tightening and imposed austerity, there are very few avenues through which such growth might be pursued. For Greece, the result of last week’s meeting of EU leaders was a fire sale of €50 billion worth of its national assets within four years. Last year the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. George Papandreou, signed up to a sale of €5 billion worth of his country’s national assets. This means that there has been a tenfold increase in the number of Greece’s national assets which must be sold.

What was agreed last week will come in return for a reduction of 100 basis points in the interest rate being charged to Greece. This will not restore it to a position of solvency because its debt spiral has already advanced too far for that to happen. Its debt to GDP ratio will approach 150% this year. In addition, its debt service costs are 14.4% of tax revenues. Meanwhile, austerity measurs are biting harder. The level of unemployment jumped by a full 1% to [437]14.8% in January, while the level of youth unemployment hit 39%. Given that the pact for the euro states progress on fostering employment will be assessed on the basis of long-term unemployment, youth unemployment and labour participation rates, it is obvious that the pact has failed before it has been put in place.

The eurozone refers to competitiveness but seeks to deny Ireland and other struggling countries their competitive advantage. The financial crisis in this country has many causes. However, our rate of corporation tax is not one of them. Attracting foreign investment offers Ireland the best opportunity to grow out of the position of debt in which it finds itself. This fact was recognised by the eurozone when it granted the bailout. At the forthcoming summit Ireland cannot allow further fiscal instruments in the gift of the Government to be surrendered to Brussels. Ireland is in a different economic cycle to the remainder of Europe, particularly the core EU countries. The economy is experiencing contraction, while those of the core EU states are experiencing growth. As a result, different fiscal instruments are required here than those which are needed in the countries to which I refer. The implementation of the same fiscal instruments across the entire eurozone may control inflation in certain countries but may exacerbate economic contraction in Ireland. One size clearly does not fit all.

We have seen the proof of this in the centralisation of monetary policy in the ECB. The recent property bubble was significantly powered by the misapplication of ECB interest rates in Ireland. It is important to remember that owing to the country’s size, the European Union will never implement fiscal or monetary policy for Ireland’s benefit. Ireland only represents 1% of the EU economy and, as a result, does not even feature on the policy radar. Instruments are often implemented at levels which are bad for Ireland. As a result, the trading off of any other fiscal instruments by the Minister for Finance would be bad for this country in the long term and must be resisted. In its application, the common consolidated corporate tax base, CCCTB, is one such instrument.

During the debates on the Lisbon treaty, Sinn Féin publicly warned that the European Union was seeking greater competencies from member states and that, in turn, this would mean it exercising greater power over taxation matters. We were informed that we were wrong and that our arguments were ludicrous. However, we realised that the moves toward qualified majority voting would undermine our ability to retain full competence in taxation matters. The CCCTB is proof of this because it obliquely undermines Ireland’s low corporate tax regime of 12.5%.

Amendment No. 2 to the motion recognises that the programme for Government clearly states the Government will “Keep the corporate tax rate at 12.5%”. This statement is incongruous in the context of the pact for the euro. The reason for this is that companies which operate out of Ireland and which sell into the European Union pay their corporation tax in this country. However, the CCCTB proposal seeks to allocate profits by reference to where sales are made rather than to where assets are located and staff based. It is clear that the sales criteria would have an impact in the context of tax revenues currently paid by multinationals in Ireland being reallocated to various other countries in Europe. The rate of tax charged would become absolutely irrelevant under the CCCTB, particularly in view of the fact that use of sales by destination under the sharing formula would mean that export-generated profits would be taxed elsewhere. How can this proposal be revenue neutral for a small export-oriented economy?

There would be two extremely dangerous fallouts with regard to the CCCTB. Not only would a critical element of Ireland’s attraction to foreign direct investment be removed, what [438]is envisaged would also result in a serious loss of revenue at a time when we are suffering under the austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the IMF. The imposition of a CCCTB would mean that this will be doubly detrimental to the people of Ireland.

What is the position on Ireland’s veto to changes such as that proposed? We have a veto when it comes to a direct challenge to the actual rate of corporation tax charged in this country. However, we may not be in a position to stop other EU member states from pressing ahead and changing their tax systems to a single system founded on the CCCTB. An EU-wide CCCTB is actually an unlikely eventuality, but a smaller group of countries may still proceed to establish some form of CCCTB under the system of enhanced co-operation. If this were to occur, it would reduce the flow of taxable income streams into Ireland. The enhanced co-operation model would shift the tax burden from large corporations operating in Ireland to ordinary people. Irish citizens are already shouldering the cost of bailing out bondholders in France and Germany, the universal social charge and cuts to public services. Are those opposite really of the view that their constituents could shoulder further burdens relating to this matter?

A report commissioned by the Department of Finance on the proposed implementation of the proposed CCCTB states Ireland would face a larger social welfare bill, that the funds available to pay this bill would be greatly reduced, that further cuts to public spending would be necessary and that this would all occur when the EU-IMF deal was in train. Yesterday, the Taoiseach listed a number of new European Council measures which would ensure fiscal discipline and avoid macroeconomic imbalances and stated they would involve reform of the Stability and Growth Pact to enhance surveillance of fiscal policies and apply enforcement measures earlier and more consistently. Even the most europhile members of the Taoiseach’s party must see how this crisis is being used in an effort to radically dilute our ability to determine our economic future.

I call on all Members not to allow the financial crisis which has engulfed the country to lead to a debt for sovereignty swap. Further loss of critical economic instruments to Brussels will lead to a loss of competitive advantage to Ireland and an impoverished State in the future. We support this motion and oppose the Fine Gael amendment.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  With the agreement of the House, I will share time with Deputies Robert Dowds, Terence Flanagan, Colm Keaveney and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Today in the run-up to this weekend’s EU summit, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, made a statement of her Government’s stance on these negotiations, which is shared by some of the larger member states. She said, “We are still in talks with Ireland and the principle of quid pro quo must always be included”. What does quo look like? In the negotiations that are taking place, what has Ireland already done and what are we being asked to do?

What has already happened and what changes have already been implemented in our country? We must put those changes in the context of other changes taking place across the eurozone. Between the summer of 2008 and December 2010, combined changes of nearly €14.6 billion were implemented within this State. This represents approximately 9% of our gross domestic product. A recent study by the IMF on the scale of fiscal changes that can take place indicated that a change of that magnitude is the largest by a developed country in the last 30 years. This does not include the further changes that are required, and that we are seeking to make, to ensure that we have enough money to employ people in our public services and provide our public services. By the time those are complete, changes of nearly 20% of our national income will have been made. The largest change ever made by a sovereign state in [439]the eurozone was made by Greece between 1989 and 1994. Greece made a change of 11 percentage points of its national income. Ireland has already implemented changes of just under ten percentage points and is committed to implementing more. When people ask us what we have done to ensure that our State can play its part in exiting the arrangements that are in place — what does quo look like — the answer is very clear. It lies in the actions that have already been borne by the Irish people to ensure that our State can again be secure and sovereign at a point in the future.

This brings me to the issue of the corporation tax rates and the deal being sought by some of our colleagues in the European Union. The question is not simply what we think, or what I think, about whether this change should be made. We must also consider what the markets indicate as well as simple mathematics.

Currently, we must find a way to pay back approximately €45 billion to the European institutions in the next number of years. We already have an annual budget deficit of €9 billion, which we are seeking to close. Even if we were to secure a reduction of 1% in the interest rate on the deal we would save only €450 million. This is a huge amount of money, but not as much as we need. Given the pressure we are under and the commitment we have made to ensure our economy can remain secure and deliver the deficit reduction figures, why would we reduce the incentives and supports to the one sector of our economy that is making a huge contribution to ensuring that our tax revenues remain stable and grow in the future and to keeping the jobs we have and creating more jobs in the future? Why would we be asked to make a decision that would make it more difficult for our State to meet our funding commitments?

Yesterday, the blueprint for the European Stabilisation Mechanism, ESM, was published. This is the fund that will replace the fund we are in currently. The rate of interest in this new mechanism for a 7.5 year deal will be 260 basis points. If our State is currently paying a rate of interest greater than that, why should we not be able to access the lower rate of interest that will be available from the fund that will replace the one we are in at present?

What is the reaction of the markets to the negotiations of the last number of days? Yesterday, the rate of interest on two year bonds in our State exceeded 10%. This is the first time this has ever happened in the history of the eurozone. The rate of interest on the debt we might have to pay back in the next number of years is higher than the debt we will have to pay back in ten years time. The people we need to invest in our State look at the moves that are afoot and ask how, if such a huge change is to be made, we can retain, not to mention grow, international investment in manufacturing, pharmaceutical and international companies to ensure our State can exit from the current arrangements.

I asked what quo looks like. The Irish people have already paid this. A Government is in place that wants to find a fair way of ensuring our budgetary commitments are met.

What do solidarity and success look like? Success looks like our State exiting the arrangement we are in at present. It looks like Ireland being economically sovereign and borrowing at rates we can afford from the financial markets. That is what success looks like. A move that cuts off our ability to do that is one that must be fiercely resisted, which is what our Government is doing.

Deputy Robert Dowds: Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  As this is my first occasion to speak in the House, I thank the voters of Dublin Mid-West for giving me the honour to represent them in Dáil Éireann. I acknowledge my huge debt to my campaign team for their successful efforts in getting me elected.

[440]I support the Government amendment to the motion. In doing so, I express my extreme disappointment at the actions of some European Governments, particularly the German Government and, more especially, the French Government led by President Nicolas Sarkozy, for pressing the Irish Government so severely on the level of our corporation tax. Both Governments, and the EU as a whole, know how severely pressed our country is, due to the previous Government’s disastrous bank bailout, which has caused so much trouble to the Irish public, and to the Government deficit. What is the point of kicking a country further when it is already struggling to survive financially? If the French and Germany Governments got their way in increasing our corporation tax rate we would surely lose a great deal of potential inward investment that might not otherwise come to the EU at all. How would that help us get out of the mire we are in and how would it help the EU?

Much of the pressure on Ireland to increase our corporation tax rate has to do with local French and German politics. I base this belief on two things. The first is the local political situation in France and Germany where the Governments are electorally vulnerable. Second, the corporation tax rate in France is only a small proportion of the cost of doing business there. The effective rate of corporation tax in France is 8.2% compared to an effective rate of almost 12% in Ireland. What really makes the difference is that labour tax in France is 51.7% compared to less than 12% in Ireland. This, therefore, is much more the disadvantage under which France is working, rather than corporation tax.

Where Ireland is particularly vulnerable in regard to corporation tax is in regard to alterations upwards which would establish a situation of uncertainty and effectively discourage inward investment. As the last speaker pointed out, this would put us in a situation where we would be much less able to meet the pressing demands we face at present, which are in part due to the situation caused by the EU-IMF deal and the downturn Ireland has experienced.

In my constituency, well over 10,000 people are on the live register and parts of my constituency are severely marked by the blight of long-term unemployment, with all its negative consequences. We do not need more of this. The crazy point about the attacks on the corporation tax rate is that, should they succeed, it would only put us in a greater economic mess. In standing up for our corporation tax rate, we need to remember the meaning of the seanfhocal, ní neart go cur le chéile. We need to hang together for the sake of our country, and defending the corporation tax rate is a minor part of what we need to do. Unlike the previous Fianna Fáil Government, we must drive a hopeful agenda, of which defence of the corporation tax rate is but a part.

I would make the following practical suggestions, and it is important the Government takes these into consideration. While they are in the programme for Government to some extent, we need to flesh them out as much as possible. We need to campaign to bring people with Irish roots back to Ireland as much as possible to boost tourism. We must work out clever ways to encourage the many people with money in Ireland to actually spend it. We must design Government contracts in such a way as to increase the chances of Irish companies lodging successful tenders, which is done very effectively by some of our EU partners but which we do not do as well as we might. We must develop Ireland as a hub for the teaching of English as a foreign language. I hope these suggestions will be actively pursued for all of our benefit.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  I congratulate the Minister of State, Deputy Seán Sherlock, on his elevation to the ministerial ranks and wish him well for the many challenges that lie ahead. I am delighted to support the motion, which explicitly states our commitment to the 12.5% [441]rate of corporation tax and our desire that it continue. It is correct to state that this low rate of corporation tax has been one of the key ingredients of our country’s growth and prosperity in the past ten years. I want to put on record that it was Fine Gael and the Labour Party which in the early 1990s introduced the 12.5% rate and it is the priority of the new Government that this low rate continues for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, our economy is almost bankrupt. The ship has hit the rocks and we are reliant on outside help from both the EU and IMF to try to get the situation back on track. It was Fianna Fáil’s mismanagement of the economy and its economic recklessness that almost bankrupted the country. The massive bank bailouts provided have made it inevitable that the Irish people will have to pay taxes as contained in the four year plan published by the last Government, which puts a straitjacket on the new Government that has just come into office.

The notion put forward by the previous Government, namely, that bailing out reckless banks and investors was necessary to protect Ireland’s credit rating, has proved to be a catastrophic misjudgment. The previous Government’s policy of writing blank cheques for banks has destroyed the country’s creditworthiness, which was shown clearly with our recent withdrawal from the various bond auctions. If it were not for the massive amount of money that must go into the Irish banks at present, the financial problems of the country might be manageable.

We are in a situation where we must renegotiate the interest rate charged on the moneys from both the EU and IMF because, if we do not, this country is facing the abyss. However, the fact we are seeking to renegotiate our interest rate has brought the issue of our low corporation tax to the fore. The last thing the country needs at this time, given massive unemployment, is for some of the 1,000 multinationals to leave these shores or stop investing in Ireland. We are clearly reliant on foreign direct investment. The multinationals make a huge contribution and employ thousands of workers. The motion before the House must be supported by all sides because it is critical for the survival of thousands of jobs that our low tax rate remains as it is. The message that should leave the Chamber today is that the issue of low corporation tax is one which is above politics, that the Members of Dáil Éireann are united in regard to retaining it and that we will not give in to outside interference from other countries.

The IDA has hundreds of staff worldwide working to sell Ireland on the basis of our low corporation tax rate, which has been a major selling point. To raise the rate will not work towards our continuing to attract large multinationals to this country. The corporation tax rate is the envy of Europe, particularly when compared to that of countries like Germany, where the rate is 30%, the United States, where it is 39%, the UK, where it is 28%, and China, where it is 25%. While I accept the effective tax rates are lower in some countries than our effective tax rate, overall, it has been a winning formula for Ireland and we need that to continue.

In this regard, I fully support the recent statement by the Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, that change in our corporation tax rate is non-negotiable. In fact, the programme for Government states explicitly that the Government will keep the corporation tax rate at 12.5%. It was in the context of the Lisbon treaty that a legal guarantee was given that our rate would remain as it is. It is not acceptable for larger states such as Germany and France to interfere or for there to be political posturing by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy in order to bully the Irish people into changing the tax rate. Europe should be indebted to the Irish people for endorsing the European project and ensuring the Lisbon treaty went through.

What needs to happen is that Ireland and the other small nations would form an alliance to ensure our rate continues. My party was totally opposed to the EU being given control of corporate tax rates. It was Commissioner Olli Rehn who said last November that the Com[442]mission will not put pressure on any country on this matter and that the rates of taxation are a matter for each sovereign Government. Let us hope this continues. I support the motion and hope all Members will do so.

Deputy Colm Keaveney: Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  I am glad to speak in support of amendment No. 2. As with previous speakers, I beg the indulgence of the Chair in making reference to the good people of Galway East who took the opportunity to make history prior to the commencement of the 31st Dáil by electing the first Labour Party Deputy in the constituency in the history of the State. It is a great honour to represent hard working people who have great concerns on the issue being discussed in the motion.

I am from Tuam in east Galway, which is highly dependent on employment as a consequence of the foreign direct investment which has greatly benefited the western seaboard. It is important for me to make reference to research from the Western Development Commission that clearly identifies a greater dependency in my constituency on the industrial groupings which benefit from the corporation tax of 12.5%. These include employers such as Medtronic and Boston Scientific which are situated approximately 20 miles from my home town and have a combined employment in the order of 5,000-6,000. That is significant.

It is in that spirit we support the amendment. We state clearly the Government’s position on the corporation tax is to be unambiguous — it is not at risk. The new programme for Government clearly states the Government will keep the corporation tax at 12.5%. That commitment is protected in an EU context by the principles of unanimity on taxation matters. Although taxation will play its part in restoring the balance of our public finances our corporation tax will remain unchanged.

Ireland is small open economy with a heavy concentration of foreign direct investment and the 12.5% corporation tax is critical to supporting our economic recovery and employment growth. This tax rate is one of the cornerstones in the new programme for Government that will lay the foundation for our recovery. It is a key element for international investors when they look at this country and we must maintain the strong international signal that the 12.5% rate is not up for grabs. That sort of confidence about recovery is clearly inbuilt into the new programme for Government.

As a Government, however, we are aware that for some time the Commission has had an intention to bring forward proposals with regard to the common consolidated corporate tax base, CCCTB. The Commission has the right to initiate proposals and introduce legislative proposals with regard to the CCCTB. This is not unique and has been flagged. The publication of the draft directive is only the beginning of a very long process in that regard. The question of harmonising company taxation in the European Union has been around for a number of decades and we can anticipate that many more years will pass before any final proposals will fall for consideration by the Irish people and by this House.

Ireland is not opposed to any greater co-operation within the European Union on tax policy matters but we favour focusing on targeted solutions to ensure that identified barriers to working to the Internal Market are addressed. The economic impact assessment undertaken on behalf of the Department of Finance clearly alerted this Government with regard to the situation and the concerns we share about the CCCTB. It points out that a reduction in overall economic activity within the European Union and any change in that regard are factors of which we would be most cognisant. In the context of the 12.5% rate I reiterate the Govern[443]ment’s position, namely, we will keep our corporate tax as clearly stated in the new programme for Government.

Ireland joined the European Union in 1973. In the 37 years since that understanding our economy has grown by almost 350%, which equates to an annual average growth of 4.5%. It is very much in our interest to protect the very framework that attracts foreign direct investment into this country. We are not in the business of creating, undermining or putting at risk a significant selling point for this Government with regard to attracting foreign direct investment. I noted that the people of Galway, in particular east Galway, can clearly identify with the strengths foreign direct investment has brought to the fabric of rural society. I am confident about the strong programme for Government which sends out very strong signals that this country has reopened for business. The one item which is not open for discussion is the 12.5% tax rate.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  It is a privilege to have the opportunity to address this House and it would be remiss of me not to do as other Deputies have done and thank the people who put me here, the constituents of Dublin North Central who have been trying to survive without a Labour Deputy since 2002. We can be thankful that famine is over.

I never thought that when I made my maiden speech in the Dáil I would be advocating low tax or supporting a Fianna Fáil motion but these are unusual times. Essentially, we are talking about our ability to survive as an economy. That is what this debate is about — employment, inward investment, survival. When we talk to our European neighbours who are putting us under pressure, or to the European Central Bank, it is very important that we make the case — which has often been made — that if the ECB had been doing its job properly, monitoring the crazy lending from European banks to our crazy banks, perhaps we would not be in our present predicament. That is an important point to make when we deal with our European partners. There is no evidence to suggest that any increase in our corporation tax rate would have any material effect on improving the situation in this country in terms of tax intake. It would probably make the situation very much worse, as I believe every Member in the Chamber would agree.

The point I wish to make in this debate concerns the language we use for the economic crisis in which we find ourselves. When we talk of unemployment we tend to refer to individual citizens as “economic units” and we talk about the “economic cost” of unemployment, the €20,000 per year lost in terms of VAT foregone and money given in social welfare payments. However, the real cost is a social cost. The real cost is a family without a working individual in the home, a person who has nowhere to go in the morning, a family without work, a community without work and, potentially, an entire generation without work. Until very recently, I worked in an area of the north inner city which was hit by a situation in the late 1960s and lost the very thing that kept everybody at work, as if a mining village had lost its mine. That is what we may be looking at as a nation. If we lost this corporation tax rate we would be like a mining village that had lost its mine. The area I taught in never recovered from that situation and had the sense of uselessness and the lack of dignity that go with unemployment. This has to become part of our language.

We must stop using the language of economic units and economic cost of unemployment. The loss is a social one — it is when people feel as if they have no worth. Unfortunately, that is the situation in far too many homes. When we trot out statistics such as 450,000 people unemployed we are really talking about everybody’s aspirations, hopes and dreams.

[444]In talking about the corporation tax rate I am struck that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Across parties we agree on this issue. I wish to focus briefly on that point because it is for that unity of purpose everybody outside this Chamber is hoping. All of us have been through a most bruising election campaign and have met people who are falling apart. If we have that unity of purpose in regard to corporation tax surely we can have the same in finding solutions to the problem of unemployment and tacking the fundamental issues about which I am passionate, such as educational disadvantage, literacy and equality, and making this the kind of republic of which we can be proud. Let this not be the last time we have a motion on an issue that has agreement across all parties. This country is far too important to all of us for that to be the case.

We all come from somewhere and represent the people who sent us here. People often correctly deride politics, particularly today and yesterday as events come to light that we all should be ashamed of and about which we should ask questions. If I come from anywhere, I come from Sheriff Street, where there is a little school with a big heart. The children in that school and their future depend on issues like this corporation tax rate of 12.5%. Employment, a place in society and sense of usefulness, dreams and aspirations are far too important for any of us to let the Irish people down. That is why the issue is so important and why I commend the motion to the House.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Joanna Tuffy): Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I understand Deputy Higgins is sharing time with other Deputies.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Yes. We must hand it to the very big business interests in this State. They have managed to make it an article of national faith that we dare not suggest that they pay a cent more from their profits to the upkeep of our society. It is a source of wonderment in this Dáil in the last day or so that Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Fianna Fáil and, apparently, Sinn Féin are prepared to lay down their lives in the economic trenches for the cause of ensuring that big business will not be called upon to pay a cent more in taxes against a background of massive crisis in our public finances and services.

The same political establishment pitilessly and without compunction is prepared to savage the meagre income of the disabled, the unemployed and low and middle income workers. What incredible hypocrisy the political establishment is guilty of. When its system went into a tailspin as an inevitable result of the outrageous racketeering in the Irish property market and because of the insane activities of the capitalist financial markets — in reality casinos — we had rallying cries from the right wing political parties to the effect that we are all in this together and must pull together to make sacrifices equally, although we must protect the vulnerable. In practice, the vulnerable were hammered with the universal social charge and cuts in social allowances and income. Hands were meanwhile left off billionaire and multi-millionaire business interests.

Labour Deputies have the audacity to come here claiming to represent areas of this country where the poorest and most hard hit of our people live and are being savaged by cuts which the party will implement in government. They come here to protect the millionaire and billionaire interests from paying a cent more, which is quite incredible.

The Fianna Fáil motion and the debate so far has kept clear of facts and figures relating to corporate profits and tax. I direct people to the amendment in the names of Deputy Clare Daly and myself, which gives the facts. In the five years from 2004 to 2008, inclusive, total corporate profits were €268.3 billion. Total tax was €27.1 billion, leaving an effective tax rate of 10.1%. [445] In that five years, €241 billion was made in clear profits by the corporate sector. Is it seriously being suggested that if corporation tax was required to be higher by a few percentage points, leading to another €10 billion or €20 billion over that time, corporate leaders would see €220 billion as not being enough and that companies would leave? Even if we did not require the sector to pay the Danish or Austrian rate but another €20 billion over five years, we would have an extra €4 billion per year for services, meaning the poor and vulnerable would not have to be hit. Corporations would scarcely feel this in the level of profits.

The establishment parties argue that multinationals will go if there is talk of a rise in corporation tax, which is doing a significant disservice to why they are here. What about our highly educated, skilful and intelligent workers, who have language skills and access to Europe? All these factors make it attractive for multinationals to come here. The Irish State failed to develop a solid and modern manufacturing basis arising from research and development over decades. Instead, there was an over-reliance on foreign investment, and the jobs now in existence must be defended. Private investment has fallen dramatically in the past three years, leading to the disaster of 440,000 unemployed in the country. Relying on private investment, whether foreign or domestic, is doomed to failure in current circumstances. Only major public investment in major infrastructural projects of a public nature will create the tens of thousands of jobs required.

In conclusion we must point to the nefarious role of the media, much of which is owned by billionaires, which has led this propaganda campaign against any talk of requiring big business to pay more. The sector is a major beneficiary of that low rate of corporation tax.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  I am thankful for the opportunity to say a few words on this motion, which I will support. To bow to the demands of Mr. Sarkozy and Ms Merkel would be to compromise further Irish sovereignty and set this State on a slide towards unprecedented powerlessness. It would be the first of many demands as bullies always return for more. We simply cannot allow Ireland to be bullied by large European states, where the effective corporation profits tax rates are in many cases as low, if not lower, than effective Irish rates.

Such action would also fly in the face of assurances given to the Irish people during the course of both Lisbon referenda. In tackling the current unemployment problem, the first priority must be the maintenance of existing employment. Any perception which could affect this should and must be avoided.

Irish industrial development policy is seriously flawed and that current policy, which leaves an over-reliance on foreign direct investment, leaves people as well as the Irish State and economy at a great disadvantage. It could be said that it is a disaster waiting to happen, just as the case was with the misuse of bank borrowings from abroad by the Irish banks and Government, the establishment generally and the Irish super-rich.

That policy puts the employment of Irish people in the hands of the boards of multinational companies. The welfare of Irish people and workers is not a priority in decision-making by those bodies. The many employees of Dell, some from south Tipperary, know this to their cost. The policy also greatly depresses the return on Irish economic and social investment to an extent which undermines the sustainability of good public services. Investment by Ireland in multinational companies is far more than tax foregone. Multinational investment in Ireland is underpinned by Irish education and research expenditure, as well as investment in training, health and physical infrastructure. The effective tax return is even less than the approximate 10% quoted by various commentators. Furthermore, there is no prospect of multinational investment leading to the productive employment of most of the 450,000 people on the dole [446]queues, the 3,000 post-doctoral researchers and the more numerous postgraduate researchers in third level institutions, not to speak of the 100,000 qualified persons who are also on the dole. Many of these people are emigrating which means the Irish investment that enabled them to graduate will now underpin economic investment in other countries, a drain comparable to the unjustified repayment of foreign bank debt, a cíos dubh.

The only way forward for modern industry and industrial development policy is for the State to invest as opposed to prioritising foreign direct investment. We need several Irish Nokias. The Finnish communications giant, Nokia, was originally developed as a State company and currently employs 40,000 people, 26,000 of whom are in Finland. Many feasible Irish projects in the fields of sustainable energy development, food and other areas should be undertaken. Rather than selling off State companies, as proposed in the programme for Government, the companies in question should be used to develop projects of this nature. To finance such investments there must be an end to paying the cíos dubh or rack-rent arising from the debts of Irish banks to finance houses in France, Germany, Britain and other countries. In addition, the €250 billion in assets held by the Irish super rich must be taxed seriously.

A fundamental change is required in industrial development policy. The changes I have suggested would put Ireland in a much stronger position to guarantee security of employment generally and to insist on a return on investment to the State which would underpin modern public services.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Less than three years ago I went on a radio programme with the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Martin, to discuss the Lisbon treaty mark one. I voted against the treaty because the French Government was showing signs of launching an attack on our corporate tax rate of 12.5% and introducing tax harmonisation. It is no credit to me that the Minister scoffed at me at the time and argued that such a prospect was impossible and the idea that we should be frightened of the French or that they had designs on our corporate tax rate was a conjuring trick I was using to oppose the treaty. Tonight, Deputy Martin, to his credit, is manning the barricades against the French.

Within weeks of the Lisbon treaty being defeated in the first referendum, President Sarkozy visited Ireland to reassure us that the 12.5% rate was not under threat and we should vote for the treaty the next time around because we had assurances from the French and European Union, of which France held the Presidency at the time. I was present in the room when Mr. Sarkozy gave assurances about harmonisation. Equipped with those assurances, as well as the assurances embodied in some type of protocol attached to the Lisbon treaty and the reassurance of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs that the treaty was not a threat to the 12.5% corporate tax rate, I voted for the treaty in the second referendum. Today, we stand in some danger of being taken on our corporation tax rate.

I note what the Government has said about the corporate tax base. I also note the weakness in its motion which states that it will stand fast on the 12.5% but believes constructive and forthright engagement is necessary on the issue of the tax base. This statement is code for engaging in preparation for a retreat on the issue.

Ireland should resist the considerable pressure it is under. There is no reason the Taoiseach should not tell the European Council that our corporate tax rate is of such importance to our economy that we will not give way and raise the rate but are instead prepared to lower it. If such a statement drives President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel mad, so be it because it is [447]time the rest of Europe realised that the corporation tax rate is our business and not theirs and taxation is a matter for sovereign governments.

Regardless of what any Member may say about the corporation tax rate and however much speakers, for good ideological reasons, may dislike the presence of multinationals in this country, these companies provide employment and are both the engine and the most vibrant part of the economy. It may not be a popular statement for me to make but multinationals, most of which are US companies, come to Ireland for two reasons. Ask Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Facebook or any of the other multinationals the reason they locate here and one will find that they are our 12.5% corporate tax rate and educated workforce. It is an uncomfortable truth that throughout the period of the collapse of the Celtic tiger multinationals remained a very powerful and important ingredient of our economy.

If we concede on the issue of the corporation tax rate, it will send a message to multinationals and investors in the United States and elsewhere that Ireland is not open for their type of business. There is no shame in competing with other nations through tax cutting. Competitive tax cutting, one of the few weapons left in our economic armoury, creates employment and has beneficial effects on the economy. Foreign direct investment should not be resisted on grounds of prejudice.

Given its importance, we must tell the French, Germans and others to keep their hands off the corporate tax rate. The House must send out a message that we support the Taoiseach who must show economic muscle and be prepared to take on these forces. He must also show that despite our economic weaknesses, of which we have many, we have the strength to say “No” to external threats to any tax incentive which remains within our power. The corporation tax rate is one incentive which we must preserve. There must be a definite and final message that a reduction in the rate may be introduced if it is necessary to give a further boost to our economy and such a measure would be accompanied by a referendum seeking the view of Irish people on the deal that has been given to us by the same powers who are threatening to influence our tax regime to our detriment.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  As this is my first speech in the Chamber, I take this opportunity to thank the people of County Wicklow and east County Carlow for sending me here. I am delighted my first contribution in the House is to represent them on this critical topic.

The majority of Irish people are in favour of maintaining a low corporate tax base. It has been the cornerstone of Irish economic policy for decades and should continue to be so, at least in the short to medium term. Our low corporate tax rate is recognised as a critical component in attracting high levels of foreign direct investment to Ireland, particularly since the early to mid-1990s. Mr. Padraic White, a former IDA director, said that it became the IDA’s most distinctive investment incentive and over time its most single powerful weapon in the international industrial promotion battle. It works. By 2002, Ireland’s per capita foreign direct investment, FDI, was the second highest in the world, second only to Hong Kong.

The tax rate in the mid-1990s was one of a mix of factors which led to Ireland being able to attract such high FDI. We have a very low cost base, a highly educated workforce and had, and still have, a business-friendly environment. Ireland is ranked 9th in the world by the World Bank in terms of ease of doing business. At the time there was still relatively low competition from emerging economies such as India, China, Brazil and so on. Now, we are faced with not one but two critical issues in terms of our corporate tax rate. The tax regime is under pressure from not one but two fronts. The first front is Europe, with France, Germany and other countries applying pressure for tax harmonisation. Owing to the economic mismanagement of the [448]previous Government, these countries now have enormous influence on our fiscal policies. At a time when our national debt is projected to grow to €200 billion in 2014 and as we grow closer to a potential default, their influence on our fiscal policy and their ability to apply pressure in relation to our corporate tax rate will increase.

  8 o’clock

The second front, not often spoken about, is the US. I was in the US during the Obama campaign. President Obama campaigned hard on shutting down tax loopholes for US multinationals, a live conversation in the United States. While I do not believe this poses an imminent danger for Ireland, it is something of which we need to remain cognisant. This can be done, unlike with the Europeans, where we control our own tax rates by applying the same rules as apply to US citizens who are compelled, if living abroad, to pay the difference between the tax they pay in the country in which they are working and the tax they would pay in the US.

Critically, our corporate tax rate hides the fact that we have become increasingly uncompetitive in an increasingly competitive world. We need to protect the corporate tax rate but we also need to plan beyond it and to address several key issues. Our indigenous industry is not as strong as we would like it to be. In 2003, the enterprise strategy group, an independent group set up by the then Government, concluded:

Despite common perception and some of the rhetoric, we have an entirely average education system. Most worrying is the recent PISA report from the OECD which showed that we have had the biggest fall in educational standards in the developed world in a decade, which is of huge concern. At third level, we have no university among the top 50 in the world. Trinity College is ranked 76th and UCD is ranked 94th. Switzerland and Hong Kong have two universities in the top 50. We have one business school in the top 100, Smurfit business school which is ranked 78th. Three of Singapore’s business schools are in the top 40.

Our businesses may have low tax but they have high business costs. Our energy prices are among the highest in the world and we are stuck with upward only rent reviews. Many councils, including Wicklow County Council, are raising council rates and non-internationally traded costs remain high. In its 2010 national competitiveness report, Forfás states that waste water costs, legal fees, education and health costs are extremely high for businesses in Ireland. Another issue we did not have to face in the 1990s is the huge emerging economies competing directly with us, including India, China and Brazil. Many of the eastern European countries are now capable of providing the same high end services and manufacturing as Ireland. They have world class universities, have moved into areas where Ireland operates and can produce services and manufacturing at a fraction of our costs.

Due to our lack of underlying competitiveness in education, business costs and so forth, if we lose our corporation tax or it begins to move, three things will quickly happen. First, FDI will stop dead. Second, foreign companies located here will begin to move to lower corporate tax bases. Third, many domestic firms will close down, including those serving the multinationals and those who depend on the low corporate tax rate to compete with European and international firms. While it does not seem right that the people of Ireland and the most vulnerable people in our society are being asked to bear the burden of banking incompetence and greed and Government incompetence and it seems reasonable that one could suggest to [449]our corporate sector that it could temporarily contribute through the introduction of a temporary rise in the corporate tax rate by 1% or 2% on the understanding that it was a temporary measure, my experience of working with multinational corporations suggests that they would quickly begin looking for plan B and that, unfortunately, even a marginal temporary move would send out the wrong signals.

In light of all of this, I call on the Government to act in two areas. First, it must protect the corporation tax rate by strengthening Ireland’s current negotiating position with the EU-IMF teams. How do we do this? First, we do not pay back the unguaranteed bonds, which I believe amount to approximately €21 billion or €22 billion. We heard earlier today about appropriate burden sharing of this €22 billion. There is absolutely zero moral or economic argument for the Irish people to pay back unguaranteed bank bonds. The IMF agrees with this as do Nobel economists around the world. The arch-capitalist George Soros is on record as agreeing with it.

Second, we need a large-scale debt for equity swap. Third, we need to see beyond the two fundamental errors of the banks. It is okay for banks to fail. Banks around the world fail all the time. The markets will loan us money not based on what we have done, but on our ability to pay in the future.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Deputy Donnelly has provided some ideas for the Government.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  I thank him. We never heard them before.

Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan: Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  Why are we so unwilling to take on big businesses when we have no difficulty cutting disability payments or abolishing the Christmas bonus? Prior to this debate I believe I was the only Member of the previous Dáil, despite my short term in the House at the time, who questioned our corporate tax rate.

It appears that maintaining our corporate tax rate is the answer to all our woes and difficulties and that to increase it would be “economic suicide”. It is ironic that one answer to our difficulties, namely, maintaining our natural resources for the good of the country, is not receiving the same consideration. I am concerned that our corporate tax has led to our country being a tax haven for foreign national companies to avoid paying just tax in their own countries, a sentiment expressed by President Obama when campaigning in 2008. He regularly questioned and criticised our tax friendly treatment of American corporations saying it caused many jobs to be lost in America’s struggling mid-west. Are we willing to be complicit in allowing and facilitating giant corporations not pay their just taxes?

If an article in last Friday’s The Irish Times is to be believed, there are companies who are paying hardly anything, either here where they have a base or in their country of origin. We are making a big deal out of retaining the rate at 12.5% when in actual fact it is considerably lower as the 12.5% is not being collected in some cases. Would a 1% or 2% increase mean an additional €600 million to us? Where is the hard evidence that a higher rate would make Ireland uncompetitive and drive multinationals away? These companies — I disagree on this point with the previous speaker — are profitable and will not leave Ireland given the availability here of highly trained graduates and a young English speaking workforce known for its creativity and hard work. Also, we are geographically and geologically stable. I believe we are undervaluing ourselves. There is an issue with regard to what exactly is being paid in other European countries because of the allowances and subsidies which vary so-called high tax rates in such countries as Germany, the United Kingdom and France and which are several percentage points lower. At least, can we ensure that 12.5% is collected? Can we have a balanced look at the advantages of increasing it? Can we ensure that multinationals pay their just taxes?

[450]Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Last November, across the floor of this Chamber during a Private Members’ motion on the retention of our 12.5% corporate tax rate there was consensus on all sides of the House. I hope tonight we can send a similar, strong message from this House, a message that the 12.5% rate is a red line issue for us and that we will not entertain any undue pressure to change it.

Last night, some scepticism was expressed about the Government’s intention on tax harmonisation in the context of the ongoing debate on the pact for the euro. Let me be clear: the 12.5% rate is not a quid pro quo for any element of the pact for the euro. The message has been given and heard, loud and clear and I assure the House there will be no deviation from that position at the Council meeting tomorrow. What has changed since the Private Members’ motion last November is that last week the European Commission published its proposal for a common consolidated corporate tax base, CCCTB. It is expected that the final formula of words in the pact for the euro will acknowledge that publication. In other words, it would simply be stating a fact.

Naturally, it is a fact that it is within the legal competence of the Commission to publish such discussion papers. Contrary to some suggestions last night, the mere mentioning of that fact should not be seen as some fudge or subtlety creeping into the question. The European Commission has the right of initiation in terms of bringing forward legislative proposals for member states to consider and there is nothing to be gained from pretending that this does not happen or from refusing to actively engage on the issue. In fact, the opposite is the case. It would be a gross diminution of our responsibilities not to engage actively and constructively on the issue of the CCCTB. Only in this way can we be absolutely sure that all of the arguments are brought to the table. Ireland has always been prepared to work with the Commission and other member states on tax policy issues and we have no problem in reiterating that fact. However, we will be ensuring that it is clearly understood that such co-operation is clearly on the basis that taxation is a matter for national competence and that the principle of unanimity is fully respected.

Much has been said about the difference between headline rate of tax and the effective tax rate. We have no axe to grind about the effective tax rates available in other countries but we merely wish to point out that the effective rates are more material to the debate on tax competition than headline rates. Several recent reports have suggested that the effective tax rates that apply in some European countries may be considerably lower than previously thought. The World Bank PricewaterhouseCoopers study suggests that 11 EU countries have effective tax rates lower than Ireland, while a KPMG study also highlights the various ways in which other European countries lower the effective tax rate by virtue of tax base narrowing.

There was a suggestion last night that the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union somehow facilitated the passage of EU tax legislation by qualified majority voting as opposed to unanimity. That suggestion was also put forward during the debate on the Lisbon referendum, despite all the evidence and legal opinion to the contrary. The European Commission’s draft CCCTB proposal is precise on this question when it states that “direct tax legislation falls within the ambit of Article 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU”. Should one care to look up Article 115 of the TFEU, it clearly states “acting unanimously”. The legal basis of the proposal is not Article 48 of the TFEU, to which I believe the Deputy was referring last night. In any event, Article 48 facilitates a shift from unanimity to qualified majority voting only if there is a decision by unanimity to do so.

Last night, a very useful suggestion was made by Deputy McHugh about the merits of greater engagement with members of the European Parliament across all parties and this is something that I will certainly be encouraging in the Department of Finance.

[451]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  I call on the Minister to wind up.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  I thank everyone who has contributed. Let me conclude by reiterating the Government’s position once again: there will be no change in the 12.5% rate of tax as outlined in the programme for Government.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  I wish to share time with Deputy Brian Lenihan. The 12.5% rate of tax has long been a cornerstone of Irish industrial policy and I urge the Government in the strongest possible terms to withstand entreaties from our partners in Europe on this issue. I fear that any movement on the rate, even by a half a percentage point, would send a detrimental message to the inward investment community.

Above all, what any investor craves is certainty. Any movement whatsoever on the rate would destroy this certainty. From an investor perspective once the rate moves once, even if only marginally, there is nothing to stop it moving again. The resulting uncertainty and lack of confidence would be fatal to attempts to attract investment, create employment and grow the economy.

There was a good reason no sunset date was announced at the time of the introduction of the 12.5% tax rate. This is not an incentivised rate. It is not a tax holiday rate. This is simply the standard rate of corporation tax in Ireland. The message was clear and unambiguous, that is how Ireland chooses to do business. The 12.5% tax rate has the blessing of the OECD. It was introduced with the blessing and agreement of the European Union and it does not discriminate based on ownership, industry or activities. The only requirement is that there is an active trade. A similarly clear and unambiguous message must be issued by the Government and I acknowledge and applaud recent statements in this regard.

As anyone involved in the foreign direct investment sector is aware, tax is only one of a variety of factors taken into account by foreign multinationals when developing and implementing international expansion plans. Having a low tax rate for corporate profits does not win projects or investment. It is well known that in many other jurisdictions it is possible to get tax holidays and not pay any corporate tax whatsoever. Having a low rate merely makes Ireland competitive and gets us to the table. What wins investment is our flexible and open economy, the availability of skilled labour and the productivity and industry of our people.

Having worked so hard to attract investment over the years, Ireland is in many respects in an enviable position. It has a proven track record of providing a stable and reliable location from which to do business. It is the only English speaking member of the eurozone. It is home to marquee names and household brands, factors which attract interest and oftentimes further investment from other players and competitors. This work would be undone in one fell swoop even by a seemingly insignificant change to the corporate tax rate.

Typically, Ireland competes primarily with Switzerland and Singapore for the type of investment it secures. It is clear that any deterioration in Ireland’s competitiveness vis-à-vis these jurisdictions would likely result in investment being lost by the EU as well as by Ireland. The prospect that France and Germany would reap an inward investment windfall if Ireland were to double its corporate tax rate is not based on reality and it is unlikely that France or Germany would contend otherwise. The primary beneficiaries would likely be non-EU countries.

We received a little more clarity on the next line of attack on the Irish tax system last week with the European Commission proposal and draft directive for a common consolidated corporate tax system. Although only a proposal at an early stage, it requires careful monitoring. It reminds me of the old nursery rhyme about the spider and the fly. No doubt the Minister will remember it. It runs: “Oh come into my parlour said the spider to the fly.” We all know [452]what happened to the fly once it became enmeshed in the web. I fear the Government’s amendment and approach will ensure Ireland will wind up like the fly in the famous nursery rhyme.

What the common consolidated corporate tax base, CCCTB, seeks to do is reallocate profits earned by companies that operate in the CCCTB territories according to various factors such as physical assets, sales, payroll and employees. Interestingly from an Irish perspective, there is no allocation based on intangible assets, placing companies that have invested significantly in the creation and exploitation of intellectual property at a considerable disadvantage. The introduction of the CCCTB is clearly an attempt to take the rate out of the equation by allocating profits based on a new system, one that is completely incompatible with existing taxation and accounting principles and with the hundreds of the tax treaties currently in existence. These profits would then be taxed at the tax rate applicable in those territories.

As this proposal should be resisted in the strongest possible way, the terms of the Government’s amendment in this regard are worrying. Any reduction in the interest rate being charged by the EU and IMF would be welcome and I would applaud the Taoiseach and the Government if it achieved such a result, but it is imperative that it not be achieved at any price. The 12.5% corporate tax rate and no CCCTB for Ireland is a line in the sand we should not cross in pursuit of a short-term gain on the interest rate. Its effect on corporate policy and our ability to attract long-term investment would be detrimental. Therefore, if a short-term gain were to lead to a significant long-term erosion of our competitive advantage in terms of the level of certainty we enjoy and the success we have built thanks to our current industrial policy, we should not sacrifice the long term for the short term. I will now share the rest of my time with Deputy Lenihan.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  This evening, we learned from Government sources that the question of an interest rate reduction will not arise in the discussions at the summit the Taoiseach will attend later this week. Plainly, the issue has been deferred to a later day. I understand there are important elections in Germany that make it difficult for Germany to agree or to be seen to agree any interest rate decrease for Ireland. Although such a rate decrease was on offer at the first summit the Taoiseach attended, some states attempted to attach conditions to it in terms of the CCCTB.

The issue is not about the rate, so I am disappointed that our side must divide the House on the motion. We fully support the Government in its exertions on this question in Europe, but the issue is about the CCCTB, not the rate of tax. In European terms the CCCTB is an attempt to generalise corporation tax arrangements in a way that would plainly put Ireland at a competitive disadvantage in attracting industry. The Government has wisely made a strong case about how our effective rate is at the average European level as opposed to below the average. The CCCTB is a dangerous proposal for Ireland. Once one starts relocating profits in other countries by law, the attractiveness of Ireland as an investment location is correspondingly reduced. This is why we must be careful.

Given that the interest rate issue will not be on the table during the coming days, I take it that the corporation tax issue will also be off the table. More will be heard about this matter in the days ahead, but it is clear that there has been a significant change in Government thinking on this matter since assuming office. In response to the private Members’ motion tabled by my party, one that sent out a clear signal that Irish corporation tax policy was immovable and that we cannot participate in the CCCTB, the Government tabled an amendment that introduced language on being committed to “a constructive and forthright engagement with all of our European partners on this issue”, not on tax issues generally. Press reports suggest that, at the previous summit, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy made an offer to the Taoiseach to the effect [453]that, if we were prepared to be constructive and to engage on tax co-ordination generally, we would receive an interest rate decrease. This proposal could and might have been examined, as it related to tax generally. However, the terms of the amendment commit the House to entering into a constructive engagement on the CCCTB. This is what the Government is inviting us to do, but Fianna Fáil is not prepared to be a party to it. It is regrettable. Although we will support Government efforts in this area, it is far too early to make such a commitment.

I will give the Government cautionary advice. If it insists on going down this road, it should ensure that the CCCTB discussions are held among the 27 member states, not the eurozone member states. Where the latter are responsible for the facility and, therefore, the interest rate attaching to it, the 27 EU member states will need to decide the CCCTB issue. This gives us a wider and better forum in which to voice our concerns. The quicker we can extract the issue from the eurozone Ministers, the better. If the Minister is determined on his course of action, I urge him to take the route I have outlined. Any attempt to resolve the issue within the framework of the eurozone will lead to a disproportionate influence by France and Germany. In particular, there seems to be a degree of obsession on this issue at the level of the President of the French Republic as opposed to at its official or political level. It is important that we broaden the discussion into ECOFIN, the group of 27 finance Ministers who represent the entirety of the member states and many of whom share our views on this issue and recognise that it is not envisaged as a natural or built up part of the European system.

The Government must be firm on this issue. I do not know what “constructive engagement” means or what signal it will send to those who want to invest in Ireland. As stated by Deputies on all sides of the House, the key issue is the fact that, the longer this debate continues, the more serious the psychological effect on investment becomes. A prolonged debate on this subject only serves to make more difficult the work of the IDA and the other worthy agencies that attract investment from abroad. Investors in California, India or China do not know the details of the CCCTB, the mechanics of European integration or what the President of France stands for. They see that our tax rate is, in some sense, under threat.

During the referendums on the Lisbon and Nice treaties this matter was regularly raised as a scare issue. If every other sovereign in the world decided that we should not have our corporation tax arrangement, we would not be able to sustain it. It is not sustainable in glorious isolation. However, it is sustainable if one builds alliances with other member states and is diligent in one’s lobbying on the Hill and in European circles to ensure the arrangement is maintained.

We are concerned that we are being asked to engage constructively in a process that may lead to our participation in the CCCTB. This is the bottom line. This afternoon, I asked the Minister how much we would save on an annualised basis if the interest on the facility was reduced by 1%. On the basis of what has already been drawn down, the saving would be small compared with the incalculable loss to the country of a common corporate tax base that would leave us open to exposure in our international investment policy.

This is my party’s position on the motion. I do not want to seem churlish to the Government. It is in its early days and I wish it well in its endeavours in terms of corporation tax. However, we all need to be realistic as well. There has been a file out there for many years called “Corporation Tax”. It is drawn down at every opportunity and we have to ensure it is put back in the cabinet and forgotten about.

Amendment put.

[454]The Dáil divided: Tá, 101; Níl, 42.

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Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John.
Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony. Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael.
Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn. Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle. Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara.
Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan. Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. 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 Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul.
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 Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
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 Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  


Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael. Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on John Halligan  Zoom on John Halligan  Halligan, John. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie. Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. 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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian. Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar.
Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert. Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Amendment declared carried.

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

The Dáil divided: Tá, 100; Níl, 40.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Tom Barry  Zoom on Tom Barry  Barry, Tom.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric. Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie.
Information on Áine Collins  Zoom on Áine Collins  Collins, Áine. Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael.
Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  Conlan, Seán. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J.
Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara. Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina.
Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal. Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne. Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances.
Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan. Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic.
Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel. Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Michael Healy-Rae  Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Michael.
Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather. Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin.
Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek. Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan.
Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  Kenny, Seán. Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Sean.
Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John.
Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony. Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael.
Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn. Information on Peter Mathews  Zoom on Peter Mathews  Mathews, Peter.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle. Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara.
Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan. Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán. Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann.
Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul. 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 Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
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 Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.
Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.



Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael. Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry.
Information on Clare Daly  Zoom on Clare Daly  Daly, Clare. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Stephen Donnelly  Zoom on Stephen Donnelly  Donnelly, Stephen. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Sean. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie. Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. 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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian.
Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar. Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Question declared carried.


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