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 Header Item Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)
 Header Item Ministerial Responsibilities

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny]  It is difficult to know what will happen to the global economy. American interests are making strident efforts to deal with the fiscal cliff the country faces before the end of the year. That could see an enormous improvement in the American economy, given its efforts in the energy field, which will speak for themselves, and the new regime in China on the other side of the world. From a European perspective, serious headway has been made in Ireland, a small country, and there are challenges ahead. We need extra support from our European colleagues. I can testify that the efforts made at the European Council meeting last week are focused on improving the situation in European economies, where leaders see that tough decisions must be made because we cannot do this on our own. If our partner colleagues are making headway, it is easier for Ireland as an exporting nation to grow its economy. I cannot provide details of the 2014 budget but we would like to see a situation where Members of the House have the opportunity to discuss the range and spectrum of what is involved at an earlier date.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The issue is very straightforward. I take the point of the Taoiseach, when decoded, about urging Europe to take a softer line and saying that Europe should meet its obligations to Ireland. I hope the Taoiseach agrees Europe is failing to meet its obligations to Ireland, which is what the IMF is implicitly saying. There is obviously a split between the IMF and the rest of the troika. The IMF is saying that because of our failure to grow at the predicted rate, the Government should be prepared to defer the predicted budget cuts forecast and promised for next year. Will we be prepared to take the less austere line of the IMF or are we going to show a greater enthusiasm for austerity than the lenders?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The single supervisory mechanism is part of the process of making the decision, following the decision of 29 June. The decision was endorsed by the Heads of Government at European Council level. Within the ECOFIN group, the Minister for Finance will start discussions on the modalities, mechanics and circumstances that will operate, which will lead to banking union. In parallel circumstances from that point of view, Ireland finding itself in a unique position as a special case will be raised at the group meeting.

The focus in the 2013 budget was unashamedly pro-business and pro-opportunity for small and medium-size enterprises to grow. That is where middle Ireland is working exceptionally hard in the face of demanding challenges and that is where the effort the Government must be seen-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Taoiseach could have fooled us.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----to improve the lot of those who are unemployed, long-term unemployed, on low incomes and in the squeezed middle sector. If it is left as it is, they will never have the opportunity to have greater prosperity and activity at the level of jobs. That is where the focus of the budget has been. Our economy will be built on the backs of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Their broken backs.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is why the Government did not tax employment by increasing income tax or placing additional taxes on work. People can now plan their lives more clearly. I would like to think that if we can continue economic good progress during 2013, we will get the assistance committed to us from our European colleagues, which will make the country more attractive for investment and job creation. There will be greater access to credit for the small and medium-size enterprises with the consequent job creation prospects for hundreds of thousands of people who deserve jobs. That is where the focus of the Government will be.

Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

Ministerial Responsibilities

 1. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the responsibility of delegation orders are within his remit; if he has signed any recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48013/12]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Delegation of functions orders are made by the Government at the request of the Minister concerned. At my request, on 22 March 2011, the Government made an order delegating my statutory functions in relation to the Central Statistics Office under the Statistics Act 1993, the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 2005 and the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 to the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I am particularly interested in learning whether a delegation of powers order has been signed in respect of the most recently appointed Minister of State, Deputy Alex White.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That was signed this morning.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That being the case, it raises the question of why it took in excess of one year to sign the delegation order in respect of the former Minister of State, Deputy Róisín Shortall. It seems extraordinary that the Taoiseach could act expeditiously, as he has on this occasion, but it took in excess of one year to sign the delegation order in respect of Deputy Róisín Shortall. Did issues arise in respect of that delegation order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are dealing with questions to the Taoiseach.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Yes, but the Taoiseach is the signatory of the orders. What were the events, if any, that precluded the Taoiseach from signing the order in respect of the former Minister of State, Deputy Róisín Shortall? Did the Taoiseach have discussions with the Minister for Health or the Tánaiste? Did people advocate against signing the delegation order? When it was eventually signed, why was primary care not included in the delegation order?

I take it that all Ministers of State have had their delegation orders signed. Are any areas of responsibility described by the Taoiseach in the initial appointment not covered by the delegation order signed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It was not a case of reluctance to sign the delegation order. Primary care does not have a statutory legal base. It is a difference between statutory legal basis, policy issues and administrative issues. The fact that it took some time to get this correct in respect of the previous Minister of State was also an issue in respect of her successor, Deputy Alex White. This meant it was a continuation of officially carrying on the delegation order given to the previous Minister of State. It was not a case of deliberately delaying. Primary care is not a statutory power; policy and the administration of primary care were the subject of the delegation order for the Minister of State. That continued with the current incumbent.

The Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe, has functions relating to the Central Statistics Office, including signing statutory instruments, replying to parliamentary questions on statistical matters and receiving regular briefings on statistical matters from the staff of the Central Statistics Office. The Minister of State is also responsible for reaching agreement with the National Statistics Board on guiding the strategic direction of the Central Statistics Office.

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