Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Bill 2013: Committee Stage
Yes, and renamed. However, together with a need for clarity, there is equally an issue of parity of resources. The notion has gone out in all the public discourse on the subject that Independent Members are getting extra money that is denied to others. In fact, it is very clear that the first five Members of a party receive almost double what an Independent Senator gets. We are expected to draw down resources and access expertise with that money. To put it simply, we do not have the resources parties have.
As I said, I agree with the principle that allowances should be requested. However, I have a difficulty with the returning of the unspent portion. As it stands, those of us who wish to return an unspent portion of an allowance are put in the position of having to gift it back to the State, which seems wrong to me. It does not send out the right message. I publish my expenditure figures, but the fact I have to write a cheque to the Minister to gift the unspent portion does not seem in keeping with an appropriate accounting system. The Bill should be dealing with issues like that.