Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (6)

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

7 Mr. Gilmore asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if the structure and staffing levels of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board have been agreed; when she expects that the board will be operational; if a location has been decided for the board’s office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8076/04]

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Oral answers (13 contributions) (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

The structure and staffing levels of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board have been agreed. The PIAB, when fully operational, will have a staffing complement of 85 in addition to the chief executive officer. The PIAB will also utilise an outsourced service centre to assist injured parties in completion of their claim submissions and ensure a comprehensive, fair and independent service is provided.

As the Deputy may be aware a CEO designate has been appointed and she took up duty on 2 February. Advertisements have recently been placed in the national media for various positions in the new body. The PIAB will be based in the Tallaght area. Negotiations are nearing finality in regard to securing a premises. Furthermore, significant progress has been made in regard to procuring the required information technology systems and infrastructure which will facilitate the PIAB in commencing operations.

Is the Minister of State aware that when the legislation to establish the board was going through the House, a commitment was made that it would be fully operational as soon as possible and 1 January was mentioned? Will he give a specific date upon which the PIAB will formally process personal injuries applications?

How does the designation of Tallaght as the location for the board's offices square with the Minister for Finance's statement during his budget speech that all new agencies would be sited outside the greater Dublin area? How can that be reconciled? What is the Minister of State's view on the Tánaiste's assertion that suitably qualified people are not available outside the greater Dublin area to staff the board?

I am not aware of such a statement by the Tánaiste. It is expected the PIAB will deal with cases from June onwards.

The date has changed from January to March to April to June.

The establishment of the PIAB has been complex and has involved a great deal of work but good progress is being made. The Deputy can be assured the location of the offices in Tallaght——

Has nothing to do with the Tánaiste?

——is a good boost for the area and it is an appropriate location for a new board, which has 85 staff and complex——

Road traffic.

——work to undertake. Consequently, the location is entirely appropriate.

Is the recruitment of staff focused on those with experience of employer liability cases or are staff with experience in all elements of the insurance market being recruited? When does the board hope to commence examination of motor insurance claims?

What measures have been taken by the Department to address fraudulent claims? The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform wants to make this a criminal offence, a view which we support. What is the Department's view? What action is being taken?

My Department, particularly in the area of health and safety, has examined the possibility of improving the database that exists in the courts system to make it more transparent and to ensure improved data are available to the public on claims regimes and so on.

With regard to the PIAB, it will deal initially with employer liability cases and then move on to deal with public liability and motor accident cases. I do not have a date for the move to the latter cases.

Will it be before or after the next general election?

Before.