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 Header Item Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil
 Header Item Establishment of Select Committee on European Union Affairs: Motion
 Header Item Establishment of Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: Motion
 Header Item Establishment of Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach: Motion
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2020

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 995 No. 5
Unrevised

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Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the Order of Business of Tuesday, 21 July 2020, that the motions re the establishment of the Committee on European Affairs, the Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach shall be taken now, shall be moved together and shall be decided without debate.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Mattie McGrath): Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Is that agreed? Agreed.

Establishment of Select Committee on European Union Affairs: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers I move:

(1) That a Select Committee, which shall be called the Select Committee on European Union Affairs, consisting of 9 members of Dáil Éireann, be appointed to consider such matters arising from—
(a) Ireland’s membership of the European Union, and

(b) Ireland’s adherence to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as it may select and which are not referred to any other Committee.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), the Select Committee shall consider such—
(a) Bills the statute law in respect of which is dealt with by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence,

(b) proposals contained in any motion, including any motion within the meaning of Standing Order 220, and

(c) other matters, as shall be referred to it by the Dáil.
(3) The Minister for Foreign Affairs (or a member of the Government or Minister of State nominated to act in his or her stead for that purpose) shall be an ex officio member of the Select Committee for the purpose of consideration of the matters outlined at paragraph (2)(a) and (b) and shall be entitled to vote in Select Committee proceedings.

(4) The Select Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 96, other than paragraphs (6) to (10).

(5) The Select Committee shall be joined with a Select Committee appointed by Seanad Éireann, to form the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, which, without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), shall consider—
(a) the European Commission’s strategic planning documents including the Commission Work Programme,

(b) cross-sectoral policy developments at European Union level,

(c) matters listed for consideration on the agenda for meetings of the General Affairs Council (of Ministers) of the European Union and the outcome of such meetings,

(d) such regulations under the European Communities Acts 1972 to 2009 and other instruments made under statute and necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union as the Committee may select,

(e) notifications referred by the Dáil under Standing Order 134(1)(a),

(f) notifications of proposals for the amendment of the Treaties received from the European Council pursuant to Article 48.2 of the Treaty on European Union,

(g) notifications of applications for membership of the European Union received from the European Council pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, and

(h) such other matters as may be referred to it by the Dáil from time to time.
(6) The Joint Committee shall report to both Houses of the Oireachtas on the operation of the European Union (Scrutiny) Act 2002.

(7) The Joint Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 96, 133 and 135 and shall have the power to make recommendations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (or Minister of State) on European Union matters.

(8) The following may attend meetings of the Joint Committee and take part in proceedings without having a right to vote or to move motions and amendments:
(a) Members of the European Parliament elected from constituencies in Ireland,

(b) Members of the Irish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and

(c) at the invitation of the Committee, other Members of the European Parliament.
(9) The Joint Committee shall represent both Houses of the Oireachtas at the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) and shall report to both Houses of the Oireachtas thereon.

(10) The Chairman of the Dáil Select Committee shall also be the Chairman of the Joint Committee.

  Question put and agreed to.

Establishment of Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers I move:

(1) That a Select Committee consisting of 9 members of Dáil Éireann be appointed to be joined with a Select Committee to be appointed by Seanad Éireann to form the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement to consider—
(a) issues arising from Ireland’s role as a signatory to the Good Friday Agreement,

(b) ongoing developments in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and

(c) any proposals relating to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and such related matters as shall be referred to it by the Dáil and/or the Seanad from time to time, and to report back to both Houses of the Oireachtas at least once a year.
(2) The Joint Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 96, other than paragraphs (3) to (9) inclusive thereof.

(3) The Minister for Foreign Affairs (or a member of the Government or Minister of State nominated in his or her stead) shall be an ex officio member of the Committee and shall be entitled to vote in proceedings.

(4) Members of the Westminster Parliament elected from constituencies in Northern Ireland may attend meetings of the Joint Committee and of its sub-Committees and may take part in proceedings without having a right to vote or to move motions and amendments.

(5) The Chairman of the Dáil Select Committee shall also be the Chairman of the Joint Committee.

  Question put and agreed to.

Establishment of Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers I move:

(1) That a Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach is hereby appointed pursuant to Standing Order 95.

(2) The Select Committee shall perform the functions set out in Standing Order 95 in respect of the Department of Finance, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of An Taoiseach.

(3) The number of members appointed to each Select Committee shall be 9.

(4) The Select Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Order 96, other than paragraphs (6) to (10).

(5) The Committee shall be joined with a Select Committee appointed by Seanad Éireann to form a Joint Committee to carry out the functions set out in Standing Order 95, other than at paragraph (5) thereof.

(6) The Joint Committee shall have the powers defined in Standing Orders 96, 133 and 135.

  Question put and agreed to.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Jack Chambers): Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The remaining motions of establishment and the supporting Standing Order report will be taken at the earliest opportunity.

Estimates for Public Services 2020

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 move the following Revised Estimates:

Vote 11 - Public Expenditure and Reform (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €42,745,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, 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 payment of certain grants and that a sum not exceeding €146,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 12 - Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €375,517,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, 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 Authority and other professional fees, miscellaneous payments, etc.

Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €490,427,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for services administered by that Office and for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure and that a sum not exceeding €8,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 14 - State Laboratory (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €10,271,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory.

Vote 15 - Secret Service (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €2,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for Secret Service.

Vote 17 - Public Appointments Service (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €16,291,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service and that a sum not exceeding €150,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 18 — National Shared Services Office (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €55,400,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the National Shared Services Office and that a sum not exceeding €1,024,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 19 - Office of the Ombudsman (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €11,839,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, 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.

Vote 39 - Office of Government Procurement (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €18,352,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Government Procurement and that a sum not exceeding €59,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 43 - Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €21,704,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer.

I am appearing today on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, to present the 2020 Estimate for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform group of Votes. This includes the Office of Public Works, which is my responsibility. I intend to share my time with the Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth.

  The group comprises a significant number of Votes, including the Vote for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Votes for a number of offices under the aegis of the Department, including the State Laboratory, the Public Appointments Service, the National Shared Services Office and the Office of the Ombudsman, the Vote for Superannuation and Retired Allowances, which covers Civil Service pensions, the Secret Service, the Office of Government Procurement, the Office of the Chief Government Information Officer, OCGIO, which is a new Vote, and the Vote of the Office of Public Works. My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Ossian Smyth, will address the issues relating to the Office of Government Procurement and the Office of the Chief Government Information Officer.

  As the Revised Estimates for 2020 published in December 2019 were not voted upon prior to the dissolution of Dáil Éireann earlier this year - the Estimates process is normally concluded in February - spending to date in 2020 has proceeded under the four fifths rule, which is applied under the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act 1965. Under this rule, Departments can spend an amount up to 80% of that included for the relevant Department in the previous year's Appropriation Act. This provision ensures that Departments can continue to spend in the period before the Estimates are voted by the Dáil. A number of Votes within the public expenditure and reform group are at risk of reaching their four fifths limit in the coming weeks so to enable spending, both in terms of pay and pensions of the public servants concerned, and that the important programmes administered across these Votes continue, the 2020 Estimates are presented today for approval by Dáil Éireann, and I would appreciate the support of the House.

  I note that a detailed briefing has been supplied to Deputies by the Department's officials who were assisted in this task by their colleagues in a number of bodies under the aegis of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Further detailed material is also contained in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2020, which was prepared by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

  Covid-19, along with other areas, has presented unprecedented challenges for our officials, Members of this House and communities across the country. Arrangements for business continuity and flexible working have ensured that essential public services can continue to be delivered while also ensuring that the general principles of health and safety and welfare in the workplace are adhered to. Officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the bodies under the Department's aegis have played a central role in responding to the challenges of the crisis. On behalf of the Government, I take the opportunity to thank all of those involved for their collective efforts in this regard.

  In an overall context, it is worth noting that the total gross allocation for the public expenditure and reform group, comprising ten distinct Votes for 2020, shows an increase of 6.4% on the 2019 allocation. The majority of Votes are showing very modest increases. The 2020 overall gross figure is approximately €1.334 billion compared to €1.25 billion in 2019. In 2020, a new Vote, Vote 43, has been established for the OCGIO. This new Vote will serve to drive a process of digital transformation across Government and the implementation of various strategies. That is something I am fully aware of having been Minister with responsibility for eGovernment in the previous Government.

  The structure of the public expenditure and reform Vote remains unchanged in 2020, with two strategic programmes focused on public expenditure and sectoral policy and public service management and reform. The requested resources for each programme in terms of staffing and funding are set out in part III of the Estimate. In 2020, a 27% decrease in the gross allocation for this Vote brings the total gross allocation to €44.9 million. This decrease is driven largely by the move of the OCGIO subhead to a new stand-alone Vote for 2020.

  Public service reform remains a key priority for the Department. Funding for the public service innovation fund has doubled to €1 million in 2020 to reflect the demand from public service bodies seeking their services and operations.

  Turning now to the other Votes within Vote group 1, I would like to mention that a memorandum of understanding has been agreed between the Public Appointments Service, PAS, Vote 17, and An Garda Síochána. This will result in the Public Appointments Service playing a key role in the selection aspects of internal Garda to sergeant and sergeant to inspector promotion competitions in 2020. Agreement has also been reached to transfer associated funding from the An Garda Síochána fund to the PAS fund to reflect this additional level of service. The impetus for this development is the 2018 Future of Policing in Ireland report which highlighted the importance of putting in place well-designed promotion systems within An Garda Síochána that are managed transparently and in line with best practice in the public sector. The Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána management have welcomed the increased involvement of the PAS in terms of introducing modern practices to the Garda in terms of its internal promotion procedures and practices. This can represent an important symbol of change within An Garda Síochána as people promoted through these competitions will have a critical role to play in shaping the future of policing across Ireland.

  Regarding superannuation and retired allowances, Vote 12, this Vote provides for funding to allow the payment of pensions for retired civil servants.


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