Tuesday, 4 December 2012
I thank the Minister of State. Will local authorities be funded by the Minister's Department regarding any further proceedings they have to take to get the household charge from those who have not paid to date? Also, notwithstanding what I said earlier about the household charge fiasco in the past 14 or 15 months, the property tax that is mooted and appears to have been agreed is due to commence in June next year. Is it expected, therefore, that half the household charge will have to be paid in the first six months of the year? Can the Minister of State confirm whether the penalty incurred on the second home tax will be continued with the property tax regime coming into effect in June? Regarding the costs that are to be borne by local authorities, will the Minister fund them or has he established what that cost will be and who is to fund it? Also, regarding the first half of next year, is it the case that all householders will be expected to pay 50% of a household charge based on the fact that the property tax will not be introduced until June of the following year? Can the Minister of State confirm also that second home tax and property tax will apply into the future, as was the case heretofore?
No. I am trying to answer the Deputy's questions fairly. His questions are about the household charge and not about the property tax. As I said, the property tax, if there is one, will be fully debated tomorrow. The report on the property tax should be published shortly thereafter. There will be total transparency about what is happening and where it is happening. I am not in a position to discuss that now but I would encourage everybody who is liable who has not paid the household charge to pay it. I am sure the Deputy will agree with me that in not paying, they will continue to increase the charges on themselves because if they do not pay at the end of a year, they will owe €140 instead of €100, and at the end of two years, instead of owing €200, they will owe €240 plus the expenses incurred should it happen. I urge everybody to pay it to fund local authority essential services.
I will ask the question again in the hope I might get an answer this time. First, has an exercise been carried out on the cost of proceedings in the event of having to pursue people for these charges? If that has been costed, who is to bear that cost? Will the Minister of State fund local authorities because they do not have the funding themselves? Second, will the household charge be applicable for the first half of next year?
The household charge is in place for this year and if there are changes in the budget for next year, that policy will be announced tomorrow. If anybody is successfully pursued through the courts, the person who loses that case is liable for costs. I presume, therefore, that if a local authority is successful in a prosecution-----
The reporting by two gardaí of terminations of fixed charge penalties on a massive scale has been ignored by the Government since last January, and we are being blocked from discussing that in this Chamber. A public inquiry is now needed. Honest gardaí are being undermined. Those gardaí need protection. They went to the Garda confidential recipient for whistleblowers but did not get any satisfaction or protection. Instead, they got a warning when one of them said to one of the gardaí: "I'll tell you something. If Shatter thinks you're screwing him, you're finished." That is a disgrace.
This is a matter of national interest. Honest gardaí are being victimised because they have uncovered the systematic abuse of motoring charges and terminations to those of some very powerful and influential people in the State, including members of the Judiciary.
We have not received an answer to that and I do not know why because it is not a budgetary matter.
How will local authorities budget for this when there is such uncertainty? How will local authorities fill the gaps? I suggest to the Minister of State to merge the post of directors of services and senior executive officers in local authorities. It is a ridiculous situation that local authority sections have senior executive officers and directors of services. There are some 230 of them across the State and the positions could be abolished or merged as well as cutting the pay of county managers. Some county managers receive salaries equal to or greater than that of the President of France. Will the Government consider it next year? The figure must be reduced.