Nurses and Midwives Bill 2010: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Section 40 agreed to.
Sections 41 to 84, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 85

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 68, subsection (2), to delete lines 27 to 29 and substitute the following:

"(a) after it has consulted with the Minister for Education and Skills and the relevant academic deans and the governing authorities of the third-level education establishments enumerated in the Institutes of Technology Act 2006 and the Universities Act 1997, and in accordance with the relevant criteria specified in the rules—”.

This is to include, in the references to education and training of nurses, the bodies which carry out that education and training and thereby involving those who provide that education and seeking their views. Put in contemporary terms, a gap should not develop between Ministers and involved bodies In the House I have been concerned about the attempt of the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, to get responses on the teaching of mathematics in schools.

According to a newspaper report, some 40% of those involved have not responded. It is a good idea that there should be contact between the Minister for Education and Skills and those providing education in the field. The other aspect of the involvement of those bodies is that it would allow any improvements that may be desired by the Minister, the universities or the institutes of technology to be made on a formal basis. I am mindful that when an issue arose previously with regard to the care of the elderly, there was some debate on whether it had been discussed in a lift in the Gresham Hotel. These matters are important. It is important that those who provide the education have a link with the Minister for Education and Skills and the board. That is the spirit in which the amendment has been proposed.

Senator Barrett's amendment would place an obligation on the Minister for Health to consult the relevant academic deans, the governing authorities of third level educational establishments and the Minister for Education and Skills. It is a matter for the Minister for Education and Skills to decide on who he or she should consult within the education sector. It would not be appropriate for the Minister for Health to specify this in primary legislation. I am sorry I cannot accept the Senator's amendment.

It is a pity. I accept the Minister of State's point and her bona fides. There is a danger that people can form uninformed views or prejudices about what is right or wrong with an educational course. It would be a good idea to go into an institution and consult those who provide education there about their ideas. One could get valuable international contacts as a result. I presume those who carry on these tasks in universities and institutes of technology attend international conferences, etc. If we were talking about the training of economists, we would find it strange if it were the case that only Ministers were involved in deciding what should be done. These institutions have existed for hundreds of years. The medical school in Trinity College is 300 years old this year. In the past, there has always been a difficulty within medical education in deciphering where the role of the Minister for Health ends and the role of the Minister for Education and Skills begins, and vice versa. It would be a good idea to involve the governing authorities. I am disappointed it has not received a favourable response. It seems anomalous and strange that Ministers should have responsibility for highly technical academic areas. I have made my point. Perhaps I will raise it with the Minister for Education and Skills when he is in the House. It would be very strange not to avail of all the expertise everywhere. The word “partnership” has been somewhat devalued in an economic sense, but in this sense it should involve consulting those who had these students in their care for four years and brought them to international standards. It could be a learning process for all parties. I will not press the amendment. I regret that the Minister of State is not accepting it.

I accept the principle of where the Senator is coming from. Any Minister for Education and Skills would be foolish not to consult those who are involved in providing medical training and education. My point is that the acceptance of the Senator's amendment, which would impose an obligation on the Minister for Health, would make the legislation too prescriptive. We are providing that the Minister for Health should consult the Minister for Education and Skills. He or she would be expected to consult all the various interests. There is nothing to preclude those interests from relaying their views to the Minister for Health, through the Minister for Education and Skills or otherwise. It is not appropriate to be prescriptive to the extent of naming people in primary legislation.

I thank the Minister of State. I am trying to ensure that what happens is more than mere casual discussion between Ministers. I will not press the point. We got through 40 sections with great speed in the last few minutes. Those who actually do the work in the classroom are being bypassed in the education sector to an increasing extent. They may have interesting views to express to the Ministers for Health and Education and Skills. It would be better to include them, rather than leaving them out. I will not pursue the amendment. I thank the Minister of State.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 85 agreed to.
Sections 86 to 88, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 89
Government amendment No. 24:
In page 71, subsection (2), line 30, to delete "for Finance" and substitute "for Public Expenditure and Reform".
Amendment agreed to.
Section 89, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 90 to 107, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.