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White, Alex

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."More Button

I have the honour of deputising for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, in addressing the House on the subject of the Houses of the Oireachtas Com...More Button

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission was first established as of 1 January 2004 on foot of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Act 2003 and since then the legislation has been further amen...More Button

The Houses of the Oireachtas Service is the public service body that administers the Houses of the Oireachtas on behalf of the commission as the governing authority. The functions of the service...More Button

Since 2004, the current expenditure of the Houses of the Oireachtas has been financed from the Central Fund rather than, as has been the case up to then, being included in the Estimates voted ann...More Button

The primary purpose of the Bill is, accordingly, to make available the funding for the commission over the coming three years. The Bill proposes to make available to the commission a sum not exc...More Button

I draw the attention of Members to the fact that this sum is considerably less than the €360 million provided for the past three years and, to an even greater extent, the €393 million provided fo...More Button

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Continued)

The proposed funding continues this trend, reflecting the current very constrained budgetary situation while taking into account the needs of the commission over the coming three year period. To k...More Button

In regard to the curtailment of expenditure, I draw Members' attention to the fact that, under the terms of the Oireachtas commission legislation, the commission determines its own staffing requi...More Button

Looking ahead, I am quite sure Deputies will agree that the €324 million target is a challenging one and will require substantial economising by the commission over a three year period. However,...More Button

In addition to the financial provision, the Bill provides for a revised format to the manner in which the Commission's accounts are presented. The existing format does not take account of change...More Button

The third and final provision contained in this Bill refers to the retention of receipts by the commission. These receipts will be offset against the Exchequer allocation and will be accounted f...More Button

I also wish to advise Members that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform intends to bring forward legislation early in 2013 to ensure the modernisation of the senior management structure...More Button

In summary, the Bill is designed to allow funds be made available to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to continue to provide the services that facilitate both Houses in the carrying out of...More Button

I have an aversion to clichés, that is my problem. It had nothing to do with the content. Read the sentence before it.More Button

Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)

The Deputy's enthusiasm has not waned.More Button

This has been an interesting discussion. As colleagues acknowledged, the Bill is of a technical nature and, although important, is limited in scope. Many of the issues raised in the course of the...More Button

The Bill, however, is limited. I do not criticise any of my colleagues, far be it from me to do that, when I say I am struck by how little reference was made in the course of the debate to the c...More Button

Deputy John Paul Phelan dealt quite well with Deputy Sean Fleming's opening remarks. Deputy Fleming reminded us that this is the eve of Christmas and said there was a sense in which things were ...More Button

The amounts of money to be dedicated to the Houses of the Oireachtas, and contained in the Bill, have been known since last October. The Estimate was presented in October of this year following ...More Button

Deputy Phelan also made the point that the decisions made in the budget are of relevance. The alterations and adjustments made in the Budget Statement are of relevance to this and they came only...More Button

I said many of the issues raised are not strictly relevant to the Bill and if I were consistent I would remember that and not respond to them. I think I can, however, have some indulgence for a ...More Button

We now have a system of pre-legislative scrutiny. Before a Bill is published there can be pre-legislative discussion in a committee. I was privileged to be involved in some of that work in the ...More Button

Deputy Phelan pointed out that Deputy Fleming was very enthusiastic for there to be an announcement on the referendum to abolish the Seanad. I was taken aback at how enthusiastic he was for that...More Button

Deputy Dooley made the rhetorical point that if there was a referendum next week to abolish the Dáil, it would succeed. We can laugh at that prospect but there is a serious issue at its heart. ...More Button

The issue of specifics of allowances and expenses are not germane to the issues in this debate but I have no objection to Members being critical of this or that allowance. Sometimes, however, th...More Button

I have already said there was detailed discussion of the specifics of the budget between the commission and the Minister. I will, however, put the envisaged expenditure for 2012 on the record. ...More Button

There is one issue that I would like to address on the efficiency of individual Members. This is a personal bugbear of mine that has arisen in the context of the controversy about iPads. I have...More Button

I thank colleagues for their contributions. This is important legislation and it deserves the support of the House.More Button

Budget Targets

Due to the very difficult and challenging economic environment, the Government has committed to achieving additional savings of €160 in expenditure on drugs and medicines in 2013 as set out in the ...More Button

General Medical Services Scheme Payments

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, a general practitioner (GP) is expected to provide his/her patients who hold medical cards or GP visit cards with all proper and necessary treatme...More Button

The contract between the HSE and GPs under the GMS Scheme stipulates that fees are not paid to GPs by the HSE in respect of certain medical certificates which may be required, for example, "under...More Button

Consultation fees charged by general practitioners to private patients and to GMS patients outside the terms of the GMS contract are a matter of private contract between the clinicians and the pa...More Button

Health Services Provision

 The HSE has therefore been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.More Button

Medical Card Delays

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.More Button

The current processing time for medical cards applications and appeals is 96.05% within 15 days as at 3rd December 2012.

  I have referred the remaining elements of the Deputy's ...More Button

General Medical Services Scheme Administration

Section 11 of the General Medical Services (GMS) GP Capitation Contract, which was introduced in 1989, provides that the medical practitioner shall provide for eligible persons, on behalf of the He...More Button

GPs who hold GMS contracts with the HSE must not seek or accept money from medical card or GP visit card holders for services covered under the GMS contract. In circumstances where the taking of...More Button

The Programme for Government provides for the introduction of a new GMS GP contract with an increased emphasis on the management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditi...More Button

Medical Card Appeals

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.More Button

Misuse of Drugs

I propose to take Questions Nos. 316, 317 and 319 together.More Button

Benzodiazepines, as a group of medicines, are commonly used to treat anxiety, sleep disturbance and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are known to be associated with dependence and withdrawal symptoms an...More Button

The 'Z drugs' are a group of medicines (zopiclone, zolpidem and zaleplon) which are used to treat insomnia. They have a shorter duration of action than benzodiazepines. However, there are incre...More Button

Overuse of benzodiazepines is an international issue and not specific to Ireland. The International Narcotics Control Board 2009 statistics show that Europe has the highest average consumption o...More Button

My Department is reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Regulations with a view to, amongst other issues, introducing additional controls on certain prescription drugs being traded illicitly, including be...More Button

My Department has consulted with key stakeholders in relation to the proposed amendments, which include introducing import and export controls as well as an offence of possession, thereby assisti...More Button

Medical Card Applications

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.More Button

Health Services Charges

Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970, eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means.There are currently two categories of eligibility for all persons o...More Button

There is a provision for discretion to grant a card in cases of "undue hardship" where the income guidelines are exceeded.The HSE recently set up a clinical panel to assist in the processing of a...More Button

Primary Care Services Provision

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to introducing a better and more efficient health system, a single-tier health service that will deliver equal access to care based on need, no...More Button

Fully developed Primary Care Teams give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others. There...More Button