SECTION 18.

Question proposed: "That section 18 stand part of the Bill."

Will the Minister explain the difference between section 18 and what was contained in the principal Act in relation to the disposal of land?

At present, part of my weekly work is to deal with files from health boards which wish to dispose of land. The matters have already been sanctioned by the board and I must read the file and sign the deed of transfer.

The Minister will not have to do so now.

It is a total waste of time. What do I know about a parcel of land in some part of the country——

Unless it is in Limerick.

——of which a health board has decided to dispose? It might be worth £2,000 or £3,000 or it could involve a house the health board owned or an old hospital. There is no point devolving and still holding the reins. The main effect of the section is to dispense with the need for a health board to obtain ministerial consent to the acquisition and disposal of land. The Minister may instead give general directions with which the board must comply. A requirement that health boards consult the Valuation Office to ascertain the correct market value of any lands they propose to buy or sell will be included in the directions. I am concerned when I pick up a local paper and read about a scandal in a health board——

The Southern Health Board in Cork.

——or land disposed to whomever. The boards will be required to consult the Valuation Office so they can stand over the values. It will be similar to the position applying to local authorities. It will not be a matter for the chief executive officer; it must be put before the board. The last items on county council agendas relate to the disposal of land which is not required. Usually such matters go through on the nod and seldom cause controversy. Councillors are great people and have a fair idea about the value of property. They have a much better idea of its value than I have, sitting behind a desk in Dublin. If they come across something peculiar, they are capable of dealing with it locally.

Question put and agreed to.