I move amendment No. 1:
In page 13, to delete lines 11 to 13.
This amendment seeks to delete lines 11 to 13 on page 13, which state:
The assigning of an individual health identifier to an individual shall not be regarded in any way as indicating, in and of itself, an entitlement to, or eligibility for, the provision of a health service to the individual.
We discussed my position on this on Committee Stage and the Minister is familiar with my views on the matter. My view is not just in reaction to the fact that this particular section - section 5(3), in Part 2 of the Bill - presents, but also has a historic root in, the former Government's commitment - with a small "c" - over many years to introduce legislation that would affirm the individual's right and entitlement to health and personal social services. I am speaking of a Bill that both the Minister and I referred to on many occasions when we shared the Opposition benches, the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill. This Bill was repeatedly promised year after year and appeared on the Government's programme for legislation, but it was never presented and eventually fell off the table entirely.
It is not that I take the view that an individual health identification number asserts particular rights of access or entitlement, but I am concerned by the fact that we have, in such a bald and bold way, stated in this legislation that it does not confirm entitlement to or eligibility for personal or any other services that would come under the HSE or the Department of Health's remit. Therefore, I believe this particular subsection should be removed. The introduction of individual health identifier numbers has a particular purpose - one that I support - and I have indicated to the Minister that I will not oppose the passage of the legislation. However, I feel this is a negative position to take, against the backdrop of all we argued for previously.
I believe we have a shared view that there is universal entitlement, and we want to get to a point at which the individual will be able to assert that entitlement and eligibility. This is something we are working towards, albeit with a different formula for its introduction. I appeal to the Minister to recognise that we are working to a shared end, consider my amendment and agree to the removal of this subsection.