Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Pension Provisions

10:30 am

Photo of Aidan DavittAidan Davitt (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I would like to welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, to the House. He is a very active Minister of State in the area of agriculture. I heard him on the TV and the radio over last couple of days where he explained very well the angst that is being experienced by farmers. He has a great understanding of it. However, this is extremely unfair. In my time, and I have been here as long as the Acting Chairperson, Senator Victor Boyhan, I have rarely seen so many Ministers coming to the Chamber to field so many different topics. This is absolutely no reflection on the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, who is present and is doing the job. However, we need Ministers from the other Departments. We have dealt with vaccines, transplants, fisheries and now we are dealing with pensions. It is not good enough and I hope the Acting Chairperson will take it up with the Cathaoirleach, because this is showing a disregard to this House.

I will get back to the matter at hand, namely, the issue of pensions. I am sorry for that intrusion. As the Minister of State will know, there has recently been a shift in the pensions. It seems that the recent introduction of the auto-enrolment scheme is being pushed hard. The Minister of State will be aware of this because he is dealing with small businesses. This is something small businesses have had to take on while there has been a whole plethora of other issues, such as the warehousing of debts and the increase to the minimum wage. A whole slew of different paperwork has been forced on them at the same time.

From what I can see from the defined contribution and the defined benefit, there seems to be a push towards employers rolling out the defined contribution scheme. From that, they will evidently end up making quite a large contribution. That is the way I can see things going. That happened with the universal social charge, USC. Most people think that only employees pay universal social charge, but employers are paying up to 8% on it. This is separate from what they are paying on their PRSI contributions for their employees. These are hidden things.

Britain has gone down the road of changing from defined benefit to defined contribution. That has been to the detriment of the British economy, and notably so. Heretofore, they were guaranteed large amounts of money, which were invested in different projects. They got a return from it and it was better for their whole economy. I am curious about where we are going with this whole pension issue. I know it is fairly defined, because the Department came back to me on a couple of occasions on a defined, specific query. However, this is a general query about pensions and where we see ourselves going. I await the Minister of State’s response.


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