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Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019: Committee Stage (Continued)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the House willing to vary the order made earlier today in order that we will not deduct the time it takes to vote from the time allocated for section 4 of the Bill which relates to the important area of health? In other words, we will have the time allocated for the debate. Is that agreed? Agreed.

  Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 have been ruled out of order.

  Amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, not moved.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I move amendment No. 9:

In page 10, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:
"(b) When an order is made under subsection (1)(a) which involves the spending of public monies, the order must be made with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

(c) When an order is made under subsection (1)(a) which involves the raising of public monies, the order must be made with the consent of the Minister for Finance.".

  Amendment put and declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Amendments Nos. 10 to 19, inclusive, have been ruled out of order.

  Amendments Nos. 10 to 19, inclusive, not moved.

Deputy Stephen Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I move amendment No. 20:

In page 10, line 30, after "Reform," to insert "when such consent is required in section 75A(1)(b) and (c)".

  Amendment put and declared lost.

  Amendment No. 21 not moved.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl As amendments Nos. 22 to 25, inclusive, are related and amendments Nos. 23 and 24 are consequential on amendment No. 22, amendments Nos. 22 to 25, inclusive, may be discussed together.

Deputy Louise O'Reilly: Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly I move amendment No. 22:

In page 12, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:
"Review of the effectiveness of health services

75C. The Minister shall publish a review into the effectiveness of the health services covered under section 75A and 75B of this Act one year after the United Kingdom has left the European Union.".

This is a straightforward amendment. Obviously, none of us wants to be here talking about this issue. We hope a no-deal Brexit will not happen, but we have to be prepared for it in case it does. We do not think it would be any harm for the Minister to provide us with a report "one year after the United Kingdom has left the European Union" to see how the provisions are working. In fact, it would be quite sensible to do so as we are heading into uncharted territory. We can do our work here, but much of what we have been discussing is contingent on the British Government doing its bit. Therefore, it would be no harm to receive a full assessment of how the delivery of services is operating one year after Brexit has happened. We are looking for "a review into the effectiveness of the health services covered under [this Bill] one year after the United Kingdom has left the European Union". Such a review would be of great benefit to policymakers, service users and medical and healthcare professionals.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Amendment No. 25 in my name relates specifically to what will happen from 1 January 2021. In my earlier contribution I flagged my concerns about people who were receiving ongoing treatment for particular conditions. I referred to the example of a child with scoliosis who was required to go back on a number of occasions to the United Kingdom under the cross-border directive or the treatment abroad scheme. People need reassurance on the treatment that will take place between now and 31 December 2020. They need a commitment that they will be able to continue that treatment in the same hospital or medical facility after 1 January 2021. If we do not provide such certainty, we will undermine the principle behind the Bill. This emergency legislation is being enacted to ensure that in the event that there is a hard Brexit on 29 March, people will continue to be able to avail of medical services of which they can avail today in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. If there is not an assurance that a medical procedure can continue beyond 31 December 2020, in effect, that particular right will be curtailed. I accept that it is difficult for the Minister to provide for that level of clarity today. As he has said, this is emergency legislation, but I think it is reasonable for him to be required to present a report to the House within three months to clarify the position and ensure continued treatment and support and access to the medical profession in the United Kingdom will be provided in cases which involve ongoing medical procedures which were first accessed in advance of 31 December 2020.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I thank Deputies for their amendments. The spirit in which I am approaching this section involves not disagreeing with what they are requesting, while arguing that it should perhaps not be included in the legislation. With my Government colleagues, I am happy to give a commitment on the floor of the Dáil to provide such important information for it, the health committee or any other appropriate forum within the Oireachtas. As Deputy Naughten acknowledged, the amendments provided for in the Bill are contingency steps that seek to minimise any disruption to current healthcare arrangements between Ireland and the United Kingdom. Obviously, the post-Brexit relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union will be negotiated beyond these contingency steps.


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