I thank the Acting Chairman for his kind words. This is important legislation, the objective of which is to provide for the High Court to have statutory jurisdiction to hear applications by the Health Service Executive for special care orders or interim special care orders and related matters in respect of children where their welfare may require their detention in a special care unit. The Bill provides that such units will be inspected under the Health Act 2007. The Bill also includes a provision, which allows for the dissolution Children Acts Advisory Board. In addition, the Bill includes a provision required in the context of the establishment of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.
I would like to report to the Seanad the amendments made by the Dáil. The first group of amendments amendments Nos. 1, 3, 6, 11, 18 and 19 — relate to the establishment of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 18 are technical amendments to the Long Title and section 1 and are consequential on amendment No. 11, which introduces a new section 33 to the Bill. Amendment No. 11 amends Part 7A of the Health Act 2004 in order that I as Minister will have the necessary powers under that Act to require the HSE to furnish and information and documents to me in the public interest. Clearly, this is necessary to fulfil my job as Minister. The purpose of the amendment is to strengthen the legislative base for the provision of information by the HSE for the Minister to allow me to fulfil my role and functions, including political accountability to the Oireachtas, and to create a safe channel of communication for sensitive information from the Health Service Executive to me. The amendment achieves this by placing a duty on the HSE to provide information on its initiative and without delay to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. It also gives the Minister the power to require in the public interest detailed information and documents from the HSE, free of legal prohibition, and to use such information in documents as necessary for the performance of ministerial functions. It allows the Minister to furnish such information or documents that are considered relevant to a person appointed by the Minister to examine or to inquire into any matter.
The amendment ensures the HSE keeps the Minister fully informed in all matters he or she needs to be aware of in a timely and appropriate manner. The HSE must inform the Minister without delay of any occurrence or development that in its opinion the Minister is likely to consider significant for the performance of his or her functions.
The HSE is required to monitor and keep under review occurrences and developments concerning matters relating to its objects and functions which includes child care. In addition, it must similarly inform the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs of any occurrences and developments that fall in a class of occurrence or development of public interest or concern that has been specified in writing by the Minister. This power to specify will ensure the Minister can be kept informed of important issues relevant to the public interest or concern.
Following the enactment and commencement of this Part, I will have the necessary powers to fulfil my roles and functions should I require information and documents from the HSE to do so. Senators will appreciate this is necessary in order for me to do the job properly.
Amendments Nos. 6 and 19 are technical amendments to the Long Title and section 2. They are required to reflect the title changes of the Minister for Health and Children to the Minister for Health which came into effect on 4 June 2011 on foot of an order made under section 6(1) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939.
Many of the functions have already been transferred to my Department. This legislation adds significantly to the information I can access and receive from the HSE. More legislation will be required at a later stage to deal with other transfers such as that of the youth justice system.