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 Header Item Presentation and Circulation of Further Revised Estimates 2019: Motion (Continued)
 Header Item Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018: From the Seanad

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath] What jobs did members of the Government have before they came in here? They were elected on promises. Surely to God they know something. They have advisers, press secretaries, spin doctors and the whole shebang. They will need more than that when they go to meet the public. They will need skin massagers because the public will unleash vengeance on them for their reckless spending, their disgraceful arrogance, and their inept control. I did not even mention the children's hospital because everyone knows about that. It is a big black hole. It is barely out of the ground and the Government is continuing in the same vein. The Government should listen to the people. It is the wrong decision, the wrong place and the wrong site. The Minister should listen to the sick children because he may have grandchildren himself and they may fall sick. No sick child from any part of rural Ireland will ever go into that black hole.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I was only pointing out, as is put down before me, that debate should be relevant to the terms of the motion.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Was it not?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Some of it was not.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I believe it was all very relevant.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy The Deputy has used his ten minutes. That is fine.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I believe it is very relevant.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy We did not interrupt the Deputy. I call on the Minister.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I thank all the Deputies for their contributions this evening. I will provide some figures that did not get mentioned. I will make reference to some of the Government Departments that have been touched on. The capital allocation for the Department of Education and Skills for this year will be €941 million. Last year it was €745 million. The allocation for the Department of Rural and Community Affairs for this year is €138 million. Last year it was €87 million. The capital budget for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is increasing from €1.75 billion last year to €2.1 billion this year. Finally, the capital budget for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in increasing by more than a third. As I emphasised in my speech, we are seeing a very large amount of overall additional capital expenditure for this year, an increase of €1.4 billion. This represents an increase of more than a fifth on last year. The changes being made in these Revised Estimates have to be seen in the context of that increased spend. The amount of money involved in the changes is a really small percentage of that increase and an even smaller percentage of the total amount of money that will be spent on capital projects this year.

I was asked why I would ask the House to support the passage of these Revised Estimates to committees. Deputies Thomas Byrne and Cowen asked me the details of projects that might be changed. To answer both Deputies, and other Deputies, the reason I believe we will still be able to honour our commitments in respect of key projects is that as we move through every year we experience underspends in our capital programme. That is even more likely to happen this year because our capital programme has grown by so much. Normally the money arising from those underspends is used across the summer period to respond to other issues or priorities. I am doing that now. If I told the House that I was going to increase the value of the Estimates, the charge made by Deputies Boyd Barrett and Pringle that I am able to find money out of nowhere could have real effect. In effect, I would be saying that, at this point in the year, a further €100 million is available that was not available to me when I put the budget together. If I did that the charge put to me regarding pulling money out of nowhere would have real potency, but that is not what I am doing. The total amount of capital spend for this year will be unchanged but we will reallocate that spend far earlier in the year than we normally do.

The reason I am asking the House to bring these Estimates to committee is that the level of detailed questioning some Deputies will have on the matter can best be handled there. The amount of money many different Government Departments are contributing to deal with this difficulty represents a really small portion of their overall capital expenditure. My experience suggests that it is only as we move through the year, and particularly as we move into the summer as that is when our capital expenditure significantly increases, that the reprofiling, towards which some colleagues are derisory although they would be equally venomous if I was to use the language of cuts, and some of the changes that could happen in respect of when payments are made will become clear.

Deputy Boyd Barrett is right. As I have said to all Deputies, I am glad that this debate has happened because it has allowed me to point to the fact that the overall levels of expenditure in these Revised Estimates are far higher than we have had in previous years and that they respond to the needs for investment that Deputy Boyd Barrett and other Deputies continually champion. If we did not manage capital money within the figures about which I talked on budget day, the Deputies would now be laying the charge at Government that we are able to pull money out of nowhere in order to respond to issues such as that of the national children's hospital, where I have acknowledged things went wrong. We are not able to pull money out of nowhere and, because we are not, we have to make choices. This is why we have brought Revised Estimates before the House. Deputy Burton was right when she put her question to me. I wish I did not have to do this. If I did not do it however, I would face the charge from Deputies who understand this process, as I know all of the Deputies present do-----

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton It would also be a breach of the Constitution.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe -----that there is not integrity in the figures I have put before the House this evening. That is not a situation in which I want to put myself or the House and it is why I ask that the House support the referral of these Revised Estimates to the relevant committees.

  Question put and agreed to.

Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018: From the Seanad

  The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

  Seanad amendment No. 1:

Section 7: In page 10, to delete lines 25 to 27.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I thank the House for making time available for the Data Sharing and Governance Bill 2018 and to consider the amendments made by the Seanad Éireann. As I have told the House already, the legislation is key to delivering on our public service reform commitments to expand the digital delivery of services and to make greater use of data to plan, deliver and evaluate public services. The Bill also provides for stronger governance and transparency by the public service in the way it shares and manages data. I look forward to the support of the House in passing the Bill.

I propose to take amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together. Amendment No. 1 proposes to delete section 7(6) of the Bill.


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