Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions
Decisions on Public Petitions Received
The first petition for consideration is petition No. 00054/12 from Mr. Tom Kelly concerning the imposition of the 0.6% pension levy on the pensions of former Tara Mines workers. The Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 introduced a 0.6% pension levy per annum on certain private pension funds and was set to apply for a four year period from 2011 to 2014, inclusive. At the time the Minister for Finance expressed the view that there was scope for the pensions industry to absorb the impact of the levy from fee income and charges and had written to the industry in that regard. The Department of Finance's question-and-answer fact sheet on the imposition of the levy stated the chargeable person for the pension levy would be the trustees or other persons, including insurance companies, that had responsibility for the management of the pensions scheme. We discussed this issue in private session. Does any member want to make a contribution?
I formally propose that we refer the matter to the finance committee and the Minister for Finance to draw their attention to the difficulties the levy is creating for pension funds, particularly the fund the subject of this petition, the Tara Mines pensions fund.
We will make pre-budget submissions both to the Minister and the finance committee and close the petition. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The next petition for consideration is P00078/12 from Mr. Pat Brady on the closure of carpentry and joinery classes at the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown. The carpentry and joinery apprenticeship classes at the institute have been closed as part of a rationalisation of apprenticeship provision in the education sector following the downturn in the construction sector. The petitioner is of the opinion that although the facilities in the institute are among the best in Europe, they have been unfairly targeted for closure. He points to the reopening of courses in centres such as Carlow, even though the facilities in such centres are not as good. He is of the view that the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown has been omitted owing to cronyism. Are there submissions in this regard?
The recommendation is to forward the latest responses received from the Department of Education Skills, the Health and Safety Authority and the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown, together with a copy of the report of December 2013 on the review of apprenticeship training in Ireland, to the petitioner, informing him that the committee is satisfied with the progress made to date. It is also recommended that this petition be closed because, from the work the secretariat has done in this regard, it is obvious that a lot of work has been undertaken by others on this issue and a fairly full investigation has been carried out. The committee would be duplicating this work were it to take the petition further. That is what is being suggested.
I thank the Senator. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The next petition for consideration is P00016/13 from Mr. Gary Rutherford who is seeking a consent system for organ donation. The petitioner desires the committee to investigate why the Government ignored the opt-in recommendation made in the consultation report of 2009 by the Department of Health on the issue of organ donation. The report recommended that an opt-in informed consent model was the most appropriate for the State and our culture and in keeping with the principle of consent that was a cornerstone of medical practice. Does anyone wish to comment?
I propose that, as there was a full and recent parliamentary debate on this issue, a copy of the report on organ donation, together with a transcript of the Dáil session on 21 February, be forwarded to the petitioner, stating these issues have been raised on the parliamentary agenda through both the sectoral committee and the debate in the Dáil Chamber. They have been dealt with and recommendations made will be considered in the context of legislation in the forthcoming human tissue Bill. As the issue has been dealt with through the appropriate parliamentary channels, I propose that the petition be closed.
Is that agreed? Agreed.
The final petition is P00017/13 from Mr. John O'Brien who is seeking an amendment of fire regulations on domestic fire escapes. The petitioner is seeking national legislation compelling the provision of a modern and efficient means of escape in all new dwellings through the drafting of legislation compelling such provision, with a view to retrospective fitting in existing homes. He is seeking amendments to the technical guidance document, TGD, Part B, to include a clear explanation of the dangers posed to occupants in relying on all forms of ladders as a means of escape from a fire. He is also seeking enforcement of the TGD, Part B, section 1.0.3, which prohibits the use of mobile and throw-out ladders as a means of escape.
Members have had a comprehensive discussion on this issue in private session and I formally propose that in schemes in which grant aid is involved such as the housing aid for the elderly scheme or the housing adaptation scheme the fire escape in a particular applicant's dwelling be vetted and audited in order that it conforms with the building regulations in that regard.