Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

 

12:05 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Minister, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

This is a simple amendment which requires people to apply for money rather than receive it automatically. It is reasonable that one does not get money without asking for it. If people want to decline the payment, they do not have to apply for it. That is the only import of the amendment.

On the notion that successive Governments have focused negatively on Independent Members, any rational reading of the truth would show the opposite. For parties, the allowance has always been entirely vouchable, audited and published. For Independent Members, it was none of these things. If a Member wanted to take his or her allowance and go on holidays with it, nobody could say "boo" because it was not vouched or audited. Our experience for several years of the various tribunals of inquiry and expert panels and our involvement in international best practice indicates that this is not the way to go. People demand transparency in these matters. The legislation is simple and does two things.

First, it reduces the allowance for everybody by 10%, in line with the general reductions and, second, it asks that everybody be on the same playing field in terms of accountability. We will get to those particular amendments in due course.

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