Dáil Éireann - Volume 525 - 09 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Women in Agriculture.
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
38. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plans that are under way at his Department to give recognition to farm women in the tax and social welfare codes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23402/00]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The Deputy is specifically referring to the social insurance position of farm spouses, particularly in relation to entitlement to contributory old age pensions.
There are no special provisions under the PRSI system in relation to women engaged in agriculture or women generally.
In addition, the existing provisions apply equally to all other categories of self employed traders whose spouses work or assist in the family business.
The social insurance status of spouses engaged in a family business, including farms, varies with the circumstances of the case. Spouses who are engaged in a business partnership are treated as individual self employed contributors.
Both make social insurance contributions and will be eligible, in due course, to qualify individually and in their own right for social insurance pensions.
The legislation also provides that a person who is employed directly by his or her spouse is not covered by social insurance.
Social insurance contributions are not due and the employed spouse is not covered for social insurance pensions. Likewise if a spouse participates in the business of a self-employed contributor, but is not a partner in the business, social insurance contributions are also not due and the participating or assisting spouse is not covered for social insurance pensions or benefits.
 The PRSI status of farm women was considered by the Advisory Committee on the Role of Women in Agriculture which was established by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.
My Department was represented on this committee. Its report, published in September, recommended that action be taken now in order to ensure that both farming spouses have the option of gaining individual access to PRSI entitlements.
Given the complexity of the issues, the committee recommended that a working group with legal, financial and technical expertise be established to further consider the development of models which will afford farm women financial recognition for their input into farming.
It is also recommended that the working group should comprise of representatives of relevant Departments, including my Department, the farming social partners as well as women farmers.
The establishment of the technical group is primarily a matter for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and I understand that this matter will be progressed in the near future.
I will be giving detailed consideration to the outcome of the examination when the findings are available.
In addition, it will be necessary to consider any proposed changes to the existing arrangements for farm spouses in the wider context of the existing PRSI arrangements for other spouses who participate in non farming family businesses.
The income tax arrangements which apply to farm spouses is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Finance.
Question No. 39 taken with Question No. 28.
Question No. 40 taken with Question No. 16.
Dáil Éireann 525 Written Answers. Women in Agriculture.