Seanad debates

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

10:30 am

Photo of Alice Mary HigginsAlice Mary Higgins (Independent) | Oireachtas source

We will debate the Finance Bill later today. As is often the case, particularly with Finance Bills, I was disappointed to have a number of my proposals for areas that should be looked at and debated ruled out of order either because they were considered to be a potential charge on the State, did not arise out of Committee Stage or were not relevant. I know this is a decision of the Cathaoirleach but I am indicating a few areas that I had hoped would be debated and that I would ask the Leader to ensure are debated on the floor of the House in the new year if they cannot debated in the context of the Finance Bill.

In particular, I was very disappointed to see that my amendments relating to Part 4 tenancies and the eviction of Part 4 tenants under the refurbishment exemption were not considered relevant given that the phrasing I used very much looked to the fact that they are relevant because the Government is giving tax relief for refurbishment. We know this is one of those areas that has been abused as a loophole to ensure people are pressed out of their houses and the rent can then be raised under a new tenancy. There is a real concern that we may have given a perverse incentive in this regard. Again, I find bizarre the idea that tenants and their security are not relevant to a tax relief for landlords.

The other issue we will not be debating in the context of the Finance Bill but where I hope the Leader might facilitate a debate either next week or in January is carbon tax, especially carbon tax on commercial activities. It has been very much spoken about on an individual basis and we have the EU emissions trading scheme, but there are a large number of commercial activities that are not covered under this scheme. I would appreciate it if we could have a debate on this. I will build on something Senator Humphreys said, which is that the transition statements last week were a disgrace. They were a disgrace with regard to fulfilling adequately the obligation, which we had last year and the previous year, whereby each Minister would come to the House to give a statement regarding what he or she is doing in terms of adjustment, transition and dealing with climate change, and to answer questions. Instead, we had a set piece involving a few little statements from Ministers who immediately left the House. I am adding to Senator Humphreys's comments by saying that I will certainly be pressing for all Ministers to come in and have a proper debate on each of their briefs in terms of what they are doing. In the newspapers today, we are looking at Ireland being called out again, ranked 48th out of 60 countries, and being the worst country in Europe in terms of our carbon emissions and what we are doing on climate change. The bells are ringing in alarm with regard to climate change so I ask the Leader to facilitate a lengthy debate with the new Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, a debate on carbon tax and a return to the House by each of the Ministers to speak about what they intend to do in respect of climate change.

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