What is the purpose of the section?
It amends section 65 of the Health Act, 1953. Its effect is to dispense with the need for a health board to obtain ministerial consent when making a grant to a voluntary body. However, the Minister may give general directions to cover such circumstances with which the board must comply. It also provides that a health board may impose any terms or conditions it considers fit when making a grant to a voluntary body, for example, requirements regarding tax clearance certificates or the production of audited accounts.
It is in the context of the general change which I described earlier. It gives health boards the power to make grants without ministerial consent, but also ensures the Minister has the authority to give general directions. It also provides that the health board may attach conditions. It is a rigorous section. An examination of this aspect triggered the demand by voluntary bodies that, if the section ensures health boards can attach conditions under statute to the provision of grants to voluntary bodies, there should also be a statutory provision — which has been agreed — which requires health boards to cooperate with the bodies. This balance has been included in the section.