On health legislation, I asked the Taoiseach a detailed set of questions on a raft of legislation on the Order of Business some weeks ago that was to underpin the introduction of universal health insurance. I referenced the legislative basis for universal health insurance, when public hospitals would be given autonomy from the HSE, the hospital insurance fund, the patient safety authority and a raft of other measures. The Taoiseach said he would write to me and give me an answer to every item I instanced but I have not received his letter. I would appreciate a comprehensive response to those questions.
On the health Estimates that are coming up and the budget next week, I have asked that there would be a much more transparent budgetary process in regard to Estimates, something that was committed to in the programme for Government. We know what was going on from last year's correspondence between the HSE and the Department; we have learned now 12 months later what was going on then. If we had known on budget day last year what actually was going on behind scenes between the HSE and the Department and Minister, there would have been hell to pay here because it was shocking. Patient safety was raised by the HSE as a big issue at the time. A false budget was put before the House last year in terms of health. There is no other way of describing it. We were given the false figures on the day. I have asked the Taoiseach will he commit to publishing the correspondence and engagement between the HSE and the Department of Health and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the health Estimate - that is a week to go - in order that we can make a reasonable assessment as to whether that health Estimate is a valid one in terms of the needs of the health service into 2015? We do not have any sense of that even now days before the budget.
In that context, I asked on the Order of Business last week would there be a debate on the report of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council in terms of the budget. It is incredible, and it is a sign of considerable disrespect to the council, that we will not have a debate about its very considered opinions in advance of the budget. The entire Oireachtas, essentially, is ignoring what everyone agreed was an integral and essential part of our fiscal and policy framework. We do not even have an opportunity to debate it.