Written Answers - Members’ Allowances

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 756 No. 2

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  277.  Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   the amount paid to each qualifying party leader and each independent TD and Senator under section 1 of the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Office) (Amendment) Act 2001 for the period of time between the commencement of the 31st Dáil and 24th Seanad in 2011 and 31 December 2011; the specific number of payments made to each qualifying party leader and to each independent TD and Senator under the terms of section 1 of the aforementioned Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9441/12]

  282.  Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   if a mechanism exists whereby an independent TD or Senator may voluntarily furnish to the Standards in Public Office Commission a detailed account of expenditure of funds received under [413]the terms of the Party Leader’s Allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9472/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I propose to take Questions Nos. 277 and 282 together.

The Party Leader’s Allowance is provided for in the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) Act, 1938, as amended by the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Amendment) Act, 2001. The allowance is paid to the parliamentary leader of a qualifying party in relation to expenses arising from the parliamentary activities, including research, of the party. Payments are made in respect of members of the party elected to Dáil Éireann and members elected/nominated to Seanad Éireann at the last preceding general election, or a subsequent bye-election or, in the case of Seanad Éireann, nominated to it after the last preceding general election. The conditions governing entitlement to payment of the allowance are set out in the Act. The primary restriction in the Act on the use of the allowance is that it may not be used in respect of election expenses.

Under the legislation, the amounts paid to the parliamentary leader of a qualifying party are calculated on the following basis:

TDs Government Parties* €
First 10 members 71,520 47,680
11 members to 30 57,214 38,143
More than 30 members 28,616 19,077

Senators
First 5 members 46,766
Over 5 members 23,383

*The legislation provides that, in the case of a qualifying party forming part of the Government, the combined allowances due in respect of TDs of that party are reduced by one third.

The legislation also provides that payments may be made to a member of Dáil Éireann, who at the last preceding general election or at a subsequent bye-election was elected as a member other than as a member of a qualifying party. Such qualifying Independent TDs are entitled to an annual rate of €41,152. A similar provision in the Act provides for an annual payment of €23,383 for Independent Senators.

The total amounts of the allowances paid to 31 December 2011 and number of payments made in respect of each party and each Independent TD and Senator is at Appendix I. Payments specified in respect of qualifying members of Dáil Éireann are for the period 25 February 2011 to 31 December 2011. Having regard to members of Seanad Éireann, in the case of elected members, the allowance was payable from 26 April 2011. In the case of members nominated by the Taoiseach, the allowance was payable from 20 May 2011. The allowances are generally payable monthly in arrears into a bank account specified by the beneficiary of the allowance.

The 2001 Act gives a statutory oversight role in relation to the Party Leader’s Allowance to the Standards in Public Office (SIPO) Commission. This requires each party leader to prepare a statement of expenditure for the allowance, to have it audited by an independent auditor and furnish it with the auditor’s report to the Commission. Based on the accounts submitted, the Commission is required to make a report to the Minister in relation to the use of the Party Leader’s Allowance and cause a copy of the report to be laid before the Oireachtas. Allowances paid to Independent members are not subject to these oversight provisions and there is no legislative provision under the 2001 Act whereby voluntary statements of expenditure can be submitted. Any changes to the matters prescribed in the Act require primary legislation.

[414]As previously indicated, I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to the allowance.

Party Leader’s Allowance — amounts paid to December 2011*

Party Total € Number of payments
Fine Gael 2,250,522.74 10
Fianna Fáil 1,462,769,98 10
Labour 1,462,570.11 10
Sinn Fein 893,432.68 10
Socialist Party 120,902.86 10
People Before Profit 120,902.86 10
Independent TDs
F McGrath 34,783.20 10
M Lowry 34,783.20 10
M O Sullivan 34,783.20 10
S Ross 34,783.20 10
Michael Wallace 0.00 Nil
Michael Healy Rae 34,783.20 10
Noel Grealish 34,783.20 10
Stephen Donnelly 34,783.20 6
Luke Flanagan 34,783.20 10
John Halligan 34,783.20 10
Mattie McGrath 34,783.20 8
Catherine Murphy 34,783.20 10
Thomas Pringle 34,783.20 10
Tom Fleming 34,293.30 9
Seamus Healy 34,783.20 10
Independent Senators
D Norris 15,913.41 8
F Quinn 15,913.40 8
R Mullen 15,913.40 8
John Crown 15,913.40 8
Sean Barrett 15,913.40 7
Martin McAleese 3,247.63 1
Fiach Mac Conghaill 14,394.35 6
Eamon Coghlan 14,394.35 7
Dr. Katherine Zappone 14,394.35 7
Mary Ann O Brien 14,394.35 7
Marie-Louise O’Donnell 14,394.35 7
Jillian van Turnhaut 14,394.35 7

*Members of Dáil Éireann — Total amount paid for the period 25 February 2011 to 31 December 2011.

Members of Seanad Éireann — Total amount paid for the period 26 April 2011 to 31 December 2011 in the case of elected members and from 20 May 2011 to 31 December in the case of members nominated by the Taoiseach.

  278.  Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   the annual amount paid to each qualifying party under the Electoral Acts, and not section 1 of the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act, 2001, for the period of [415]time between the commencement of the 31st Dáil and 24th Seanad in 2011 and 31 December 2011; the specific number of such payments made to each qualifying party under the terms of the aforementioned Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9442/12]

  281.  Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   the mechanism there is to ensure that the Exchequer funds received by a political party under the terms of the Party Leader’s Allowance that are accounted for under the heading expenditure applied to the purchase of support services for a parliamentary party from the party are not paid to a party in respect of support services which are already funded through Exchequer funds allocated to that political party under the terms of section 50 (c) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2011; if no such mechanism exists, his plans to review the use and existence of this category by political parties to vouch for spending under the terms of the Party Leader’s Allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9471/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 and 281 together.

Section 50(c)(ii)(I)(a) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001, provides for an annual sum of €4.948 million to be shared among qualified political parties. Payments are calculated on the basis of the share of first preference votes obtained by an individual qualified party at the previous general election.

Section 50(c)(i)(a) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001 also provides for an annual payment in each period of 12 months to each qualified party of €126,973.81.

Details of payments made to qualifying parties during the period 9th March 2011, the date of commencement of the 31st Dáil, to 31st December 2011, are set out in Appendix I. Payments in respect of both the first preference and flat rate amounts are generally made quarterly in arrears. Consequently, details of payments made to qualifying parties during the period of commencement of the 31st Dáil to 31st December 2011, include payments made to qualifying parties in respect of a period of the 30th Dáil. Four payments were made in the specified period to each of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Fein. One payment was made to the Green Party.

The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) has an important oversight role in relation to the Party Leader’s Allowance paid to qualifying party leaders under the Party Leader’s Allowance legislation. SIPO has a similar statutory oversight role in relation to Exchequer funding received by political parties under the Electoral Acts.

The Deputy will be aware that I intend to bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to the Party Leader’s Allowance. It is open to the Deputy to bring forward any proposals she may wish on the nature and scope of the activities that may be funded by political parties under the terms of this legislation and activities that may be funded under the Electoral Acts, as part of the review of the allowance.

Payments made under section 50(c) of the Electoral Amendment) Act 2011 during the period 9th March 2011 to 31st December 2011

Qualifying Party Details of payment 23/03/2011 04/04/2011 13/07/2011 03/10/2011 Grand Total
Fianna Fail Sum of Flat rate €19,398.78 €12,344.68 €31,743.45 €31,743.45 €95,230.36
Sum of 1ST Preference €336,484.59 €101,196.90 €260,220.61 €260,220.61 €958,122.71
Fine Gael Sum of Flat rate €19,398.78 €12,344.68 €31,743.45 €31,743.45 €95,230.36
Sum of 1ST Preference €221,213.48 €209,424.53 €538,520.21 €538,520.21 €1,507,678.43
Labour Party Sum of Flat rate €19,398.78 €12,344.68 €31,743.45 €31,743.45 €95,230.36
Sum of 1ST Preference €81,977.96 €112,806.26 €290,073.23 €290,073.23 €774,930.68
Sinn Fein Sum of Flat rate €19,398.78 €12,344.68 €31,743.45 €31,743.45 €95,230.36
Sum of 1ST Preference €56,206.76 €57,647.48 €148,236.37 €148,236.37 €410,326.98
The Green Party Sum of Flat rate €19,398.78 €19,398.78
Sum of 1ST Preference €37,987.76 €37,987.76
Total Sum of Flat rate €96,993.90 €49,378.72 €126,973.80 €126,973.80 €400,320.22
Total Sum of Ist Preference €733,870.55 €481,075.17 €1,237,050.42 €1,237,050.42 €3,689,046.56

Question No. 279 withdrawn.

  280.  Deputy Catherine Murphy  Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy   asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform  Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin   his plans to reform the mechanism for party political funding provided for in the Electoral Acts and or the Oireachtas staff and resources provisions made available to parliamentary parties under the terms of section 9 of the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Secretarial Facilities) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 36 of 2008) as distinct from his proposals to reform the system of funding known as the Party Leader’s Allowance which is administered subject to the provisions of section 1 of the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act, 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9464/12]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is understood that the Deputy is referring to funding for Members of the Oireachtas who are not representatives of the main political parties. This matter would be a subject for discussion between the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and my Department in the context of the preparation of a Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill which requires to be enacted before the end of the current year.

Question No. 281 answered with Question No. 278.

Question No. 282 answered with Question No. 277.


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