SECTION 42.

We will proceed to consideration of section 42, amendment No. 176 in the name of the Minister. Amendment No. 176a is an alternative; therefore amendments Nos. 176 and 176a will be discussed together, by agreement. Agreed.

I move amendment No. 176:

In page 19, lines 37 to 39, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:

"(1) A health board may, subject to any general directions given by the Minister, provide pre-school services in its area and provide and maintain premises for that purpose.".

This subsection enables health boards to provide pre-school services, for example, pre-schools, playgroups, day nurseries, cr�ches and similar services. I am concerned that the present draft could be interpreted as meaning that each and every proposal by a health board to provide a cr�che or a play group would require ministerial approval. This was never our intention. Rather I see the Minister's role relating to the health boards' overall plans or policies for the provision of pre-school services. The amendment seeks to clarify the situation by providing that health boards would be free to provide such pre-school services as they see fit, subject only to any general directions which the Minister for Health would be empowered to give. This would, for example, enable the Minister to direct health boards to give priority to children of greatest need, for example, young travellers and other children from deprived families and other relevant directions. I hope I can have your agreement.

That, in effect, answers the request in my amendment and I withdraw it.

Amendment No. 176 agreed to.
Amendment No. 176a not moved.

I move amendment No. 176b:

In page 19, subsection (2), line 41, after "Education" to insert "and the Minister for the Environment".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 42, as amended, agreed to.