Dáil Issues, Finance, Oral Questions

QUESTION NOS: 38,39,63,67

* To ask the Minister for Finance further to parliamentary question number 201 of 4 April 2017, if the independent economic impact assessment of the help to buy incentive referred to in the response to that question has been commissioned; and the status of its progress and findings to date.

– Clare Daly T.D.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 5 July, 2017.
REPLY.
As the Deputies may be aware, during the Committee Stage debate on Finance Bill 2016, my predecessor agreed to commission an independent impact assessment on the effects of the Help to Buy incentive for completion prior to Budget 2018. Following a competitive tender process, Indecon Economic Consultants were appointed in April to undertake this assessment.

This purpose of the project, in general, is to assess whether the policy objectives on the supply of new homes are being met, what impact (if any) the scheme is having on new and second-hand house prices, and what impact the scheme is having on the residential property market generally.

Any moves to amend or suspend the incentive prior to the completion of this report, which is scheduled for the end of August, would effectively pre-judge the outcome of the analysis. Once received from Indecon, the contents and findings of the report will be considered and I will decide on any appropriate action(s) to take in relation to its findings, in the context of my deliberations as part of the annual budgetary process.

The Government remains of the view that the Help to Buy incentive has the potential to increase the supply of new-build homes, which is a crucial factor in addressing the problems facing our housing market generally.

In my view, it is the lack of supply that is primarily responsible for driving house prices higher and I would point out that increases in house prices prevailed long before the introduction of the Help to Buy incentive. I would also point out that the scheme is targeted towards new build homes only, and to first-time buyers only, and it would be simplistic to designate this incentive as being the sole or the major contributor to house price increases.

Finally, I would like to reassure members of the public who may be in the process of applying for the Help to Buy incentive, or those who currently have applications pending, that speculation concerning its abolition will not impact negatively on their applications. I would propose to signal well in advance, any proposed changes to the incentive following my consideration of the Indecon report.

QUESTION NO: 54

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 05/07/2017
To ask the Minister for Finance further to parliamentary question numbers 218 to 222 of 20 June 2017, if compliance is done on an ongoing basis by both the Revenue Commissioners and the lending institutions; the date of the last compliance check by the Revenue Commissioners on lenders to ensure that the correct operation of the mortgage interest relief scheme took place; the outcome of that check; and the frequency with which these compliance checks are done.

REPLY.
Revenue carries out continuous compliance checks on lenders to ensure the correct operation of the mortgage interest relief scheme.

As part of the process, each main lender is required to submit a monthly electronic download to Revenue setting out the amount of qualifying interest paid by each borrower and the amount of mortgage interest relief allowed in respect of each qualifying loan in the previous month. The smaller lenders and local authorities are required to submit annual files setting out similar information.

Each month Revenue cross-checks all of the information provided by the lenders against its own databases and any discrepancies are very quickly queried with the particular lender. The most recent compliance checks to be completed related to May 2017 during which 283,158 TRS accounts were reviewed. Following the review 2,687 queries were raised with the various lenders of which only two still remain to be resolved.

In addition to the monthly cross-checking reviews, any queries or complaints received by Revenue from individual borrowers are fully investigated and followed up with the lender concerned.

 

O Trudeau!

Jul
2017
06

Features

by Kevin Higgins

 

Cometh the rubbish haircuts firing tweets and ICBMs;

the people with bad teeth daring to belch their opinions in public.

Cometh also the Warren Beatty of the North,

sans the wrinkles and heavy politics, bearing

to the sisterhood of the stuffed vine leaf

and gourmet sausage

ribbon-wrapped boxes labelled ‘hope’,

‘moderation’, and ‘free trade’;

your tongue’s delicious wiggling

persuading even Lycra clad

husbands to put bikes and running shoes aside

for a moment and join the ravenous pack

of dangerous  sensibilists in drizzling a tribute

of garlic butter all over

your French speaking torso.

Your hair, a field of wheat that reminds

soon-to-be-ex Prime Ministers

of better times.

Your words, as gorgeously proportional

as the gossip from the ladies’ golf-club,

float off towards the sun.

 

KEVIN HIGGINS

Children and Youth Affairs, Dáil Issues, Dáil Work, Oral Questions

QUESTION NO: 48

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. Katherine Zappone)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 04/07/2017

To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether new revelations regarding vaccine trials carried out on children at a location (details supplied) in 1974 warrants a separate investigation to ascertain the person or body that gave permission to a pharmaceutical company to carry out trials for baby formula and other products; the measures she will take to secure files relating to those trials; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Clare Daly T.D.

REPLY.
The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters was established by Government (S.I. No. 57 of 2015) in response to significant public concerns relating to the care and welfare of the women and children who were resident in these institutions. The comprehensive scope of the Commission’s remit ensures it can provide a full account of what happened to women and children in these institutions during the period 1922 to 1998.
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International

Israeli non-profit Gisha and blogger, activist and independent cross-party consultant on Israel-Palestine Gary Spedding respond to a recent statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in regard to the Palestinian electricity crisis. Both point out that, in Gisha’s words, the Minister’s response ‘completely disregards Israel’s responsibility for the current situation and its complicity, given that it is Israel with its hand on the switch.’

On the 20th of June the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade wrote this in response to questions asked about the electricity crisis in Gaza:
“Israel is not the primary actor in this dispute over electricity supplies to Gaza, which is primarily one between the Palestinian Authority and the de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza, who still control the Strip. For some years Hamas has charged customers in Gaza for electricity supplied from Israel, but refused to pass these revenues to the Palestinian Authority, which pays Israel to supply the electricity. No government can be expected to tolerate this situation indefinitely.
The Palestinian Authority has decided to reduce the amount of electricity it pays Israel to supply to Gaza, and the reported decision by Israel to reduce electricity supply is a consequence of that.
Notwithstanding the basis for the problem, the humanitarian consequences for Gaza will obviously be potentially very severe, and may arise very quickly. Mains electricity supply, already averaging only four hours per day following the shutdown in April of the only power plant in Gaza due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over fuel supplies, is expected to be cut to as little as two hours per day. Additional power can only be provided by generators, which are not designed to run full time and for which fuel is in any case short. The consequences not just for household supply, but for pumping of water and sewage, and supplies to hospitals, schools and other utilities, are obvious.
I call clearly for all parties who have a part in this issue the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Israel to act promptly and realistically to resolve this dispute, in the interests of the people of Gaza. Ultimately, full responsibility for electricity supply and billing in Gaza should be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.
Above and beyond these issues, there are also the wider questions of the overall restrictions on Gaza, including the delays in admitting materials to repair the Gaza power plant. Primary responsibility for these problems, which have already made living conditions in Gaza extremely difficult, does rest with Israel, and I repeat the consistent call of the European Union for the lifting of restrictions on Gaza.” – Simon Coveney 20th June 2017.

Gisha have kindly analysed this statement from the Minister and provided the following response:

The response echoes Netanyahu’s sentiment that the electricity crisis is an internal Palestinian issue, completely disregarding Israel’s responsibility for the current situation and its complicity, given that it is Israel with its hand on the switch.
It is important not to Israel’s role and challenge its self-proclaimed bystander status. Perhaps it’d be useful to refer to our letter to Lieberman, which addresses this point:

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