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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013: Motion
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2013

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

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Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan On promised legislation, what is the position currently with regard to the introduction to the House of the medical practitioners Bill? Have the heads been approved and if not, when are they likely to be approved? Will the Taoiseach answer the same questions with regard to the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill, also part of promised legislation? The first Bill mentioned goes back to a time when -----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is grand, we do not need a debate.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The criminal law (sexual offences) Bill is due next year and the medical practitioners Bill is due this session. The road Bill is due next year also.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Last week the Taoiseach assured the House that the legislation to provide for a referendum for the abolition of the Seanad would appear during this session. When is that legislation likely to be passed and does the Taoiseach envisage it taking place this year?

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen When will legislation be brought before the House to give effect to the abolition of town councils?

Deputy John Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy With regard to legislation concerning a banking inquiry, some reports indicate this might extend into next year. Will the Taoiseach give us some idea as to when we can expect the banking inquiry to begin?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That inquiry will begin at the end of this session. We are not abolishing county councils, but the local government Bill will come before the House in the autumn, before the end of the year. I expect to have the matter concerning the Seanad attended to and cleared by Cabinet next week. I will update Deputy Cowen on that.

Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Select Sub-committee on Health has completed its consideration of the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2012 and has made amendments thereto.

Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013: Motion

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I understand it is proposed to discharge the order made last Wednesday referring the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill 2013 to the Select Committee on Health and Children and to refer it instead to the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. I call on Deputy Ó Caoláin to move the motion of referral.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin I move:

  "That the order of the Dáil of 17 April be discharged and that the Bill be referred to the Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, pursuant to Standing Orders 82A and 118."

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2013

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move the following Revised Estimates:

Vote 11 — Public Expenditure and Reform (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €36,364,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for the payment of certain grants and grants-in-aid.

Vote 12 — Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €384,600,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for pensions, superannuation, occupational injuries, and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts 1834 to 2004 and sundry other statutes; extra-statutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, fees to medical referees and occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; fees to Pensions Board; miscellaneous payments, etc.

Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €374,044,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for services administered by that Office including the National Procurement Service, for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure.

Vote 14 — State Laboratory (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €8,119,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory.

Vote 15 — Secret Service (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €1,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for Secret Service.

Vote 16 — Valuation Office (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €9,121,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the Valuation Office and certain minor services.

Vote 17 — Public Appointments Service (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €6,283,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service.

Vote 18 — Shared Services (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €21,019,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of Shared Services.

Vote 19 — Office of the Ombudsman (Revised Estimate)

  That a sum not exceeding €7,437,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2013, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Commission for Public Service appointments, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.

Like others, I wish to acknowledge the presence in the Visitors Gallery of Amanda McAlister who is shadowing me today and is tasked with finding lots of savings and expenditure reductions. I am delighted she is present in the Visitors Gallery.

  I thank the Ceann Comhairle for providing me with the opportunity to move these motions to allow the Revised Estimates to be agreed and the important business of providing public services to continue. As the Taoiseach said last week, the Revised Estimates are sent to the relevant committees for full discussion and are then, as usual, returned to this House. I was disappointed yesterday by the decision of Opposition spokespersons to walk out of the select committee which was discussing all of these Estimates on a line by line fashion as usual. We had devoted some hours to that process.

  As I explained, the Estimates needed to be approved to ensure that some Government services could continue to operate and some Government employees could continue to be paid next week. I do not believe Government services should be shut down because we still have no final agreement on the apportionment of some pay. I made a decision to publish the Estimates, which are based on the implementation of the Labour Relations Commission recommendations, because that is what we anticipated the position would be. The recommendations were a fair and appropriate means of achieving the savings required.

  We have agreed to request the chief executive officer of the Labour Relations Commission to make contact with all the parties over the next number of days to establish whether there is a basis for a negotiated settlement to meet the budgetary targets the Government has explained in some detail to the unions must be met and which are written or hard-wired into the budgetary arithmetic for this year. Following that process, any changes required will be reflected in the Estimates as appropriate and presented to the Oireachtas as soon as possible thereafter. That is the normal process. I have to produce Estimates, because people need to be assured the funding is there. If there are adjustments to be made subsequent to negotiations, I will bring those back to the House in the normal way. I gave assurances on this simple and understandable process to the committee yesterday and I give it to the House now.

  Vote 18 relates to shared services. In the case of the Revised Estimates for Vote 18, shared services must be agreed in a timely way so as to keep within the statutory rules. As Deputies may know, the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act 1965 limits expenditure to an amount not exceeding four fifths of the sum appropriated the previous year, prior to a Vote by the Houses of the Oireachtas. We are getting to that deadline now. Therefore, I need this Vote for shared services this week. Shared services are a key pillar of the Government's reform programme which allow for the standardisation and integration of processes allowing for greater transparency and accessibility, reduced duplication, elimination of wasteful practices, significant cost reductions and other objectives. In addition, shared services will facilitate the production and availability of accurate management information in real time to inform decision making.

  While there has been progress in shared services throughout the public services in recent years, much of this has been on an ad hoc basis and considerable scope remains to expand its use on a more strategic basis. I will be happy to go through that in detail in committee. We now have a shared service centre operating in Clonskeagh - PeoplePoint - with 130 staff who provide HR services to 7,000 civil servants since 15 April. PeoplePoint human resource and pensions administration has the potential to achieve savings of approximately €12.5 million per annum when fully stabilised and to reduce staff head count from HR administration by approximately 149. A pension shared service will be integrated with the HR shared service and this is proceeding through the set-up phase. Last week, my colleagues at Cabinet gave their approval to proceed with a single payroll shared service centre. This will be located in three centres - Killarney, Galway and Tullamore - and will achieve savings of €5.6 million per annum when fully operational. These two shared services, servicing HR and payroll in the Civil Service and offices served by civil servants, will realise savings of €18.1 million when fully operational.

  The effective management of the public service is of key importance as we continue to develop a leaner and more efficient system. The implementation of the Government's shared service programme offers an opportunity over time to reduce costs and improve efficiency in the performance of key functions. I also believe that a greater emphasis on shared services will be of value in progressing the integration of the public service and providing important and timely information.

  I will move briefly through the Votes I seek. Vote 11 is for a sum not exceeding €36.364 million to defray the charge which will come in for payment during the year for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for the payment of grants and grants-in-aid. Vote 12 is for a sum not exceeding €384.6 million to be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December 2013, for pensions, superannuation, occupational injuries and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts 1834 to 2004 and sundry other statutes; extra-statutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister, fees to medical referees, occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; fees to Pensions Board; miscellaneous payments etc.

  Vote 13 - the Office of Public Works - is for a sum not exceeding €374.044 million to be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment for the Office of Public Works, including the National Procurement Service, for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure. In Vote 14, for the State Laboratory, I seek a sum not exceeding €8.119 million to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory. In Vote 15, for the Secret Service, I seek a sum not exceeding €1 million. Vote 16, for the Valuation Office, seeks a sum not exceeding €9.121 million and Vote 17 seeks a sum not exceeding €6.283 million to defray the charge that will arise in the course of the year for the expenses of the Public Appointments Service.


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