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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 21 Nov 2007

Vol. 642 No. 1

Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 9 to 42, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 43 to 51, inclusive, answered orally.
Question No. 52 answered with QuestionNo. 49.

Services for People with Disabilities.

David Stanton

Ceist:

53 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on introducing a cost of disability payment as recommended by disability support organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26258/07]

The social partnership agreement, Towards 2016, includes a commitment that the issues around the introduction of a cost of disability payment will be considered following the development of a needs assessment system under the Disability Act. This follows an inter-departmental examination of the issue by a working group and research commissioned on its behalf by the National Disability Authority.

Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 establishes a system for the assessment of individual needs for people with a disability. The assessment of need process has been implemented for persons aged under 5 years of age with effect from 1st June 2007. It is intended that the assessment of need process for all persons with a disability will be in place by 2011.

My Department is committed to considering the issues around a cost of disability payment following the development of this needs assessment system.

In the meantime, there is already significant assistance available to mitigate the impact of the additional costs incurred by people with a disability. These measures include weekly/monthly allowances, additional income supports, other benefits such as medical cards/free travel/mobility allowance and tax concessions.

Hospital Staff.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

54 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children when it is intended to carry out a national staffing audit on the nursing personnel in hospitals here; the intended scope of that audit; if it will establish minimum requirements for each hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29969/07]

The Health Service Executive has commissioned a Review and Feasibility Analysis of Nursing and Other Related Staff Resource Deployment in the Health Service Executive (HSE). The review commenced at the end of July and a final report is expected by January 2008. The aims of the review are:

To conduct a system wide and national analysis of current nursing/midwifery and other staffing resource deployment by clinical unit having regard to bed occupancy and acuity;

To compare the current use of our nursing resource in Ireland against best international practice. This will be benchmarked against OECD and other analysis of human resources for healthcare;

To recommend the optimal configuration of our nursing resource in the delivery of health services taking account of best international practice and the emerging transformation programme;

In the light of the above, to assess the feasibility of the introduction, on a cost neutral and Wholetime Equivalent (WTE) neutral basis, of a reduction in the weekly hours of work (of the staff involved) by reconfiguration of the workforce. Such a feasibility study will determine whether any potential risk to the availability, quality and accessibility of health service provision might ensue.

Fifty-two acute hospitals are being surveyed as part of the review. The review is not designed to establish minimum or maximum staffing requirements for hospitals but, rather, to report on the project objectives and deliverables outlined above.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

55 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will introduce amending legislation to allow HIQA to monitor and enforce standards in private health care institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29964/07]

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) was established in May 2007. This represents a crucial element of the Health Reform Programme and is a new departure for the Irish Health Services.

A core function of the Authority is to set standards on safety and quality of health services and to monitor enforcement of these standards in an open and transparent way. The Act gives HIQA strong powers in this area in relation to services provided by the Health Service Executive and bodies funded by the Executive to provide health services on its behalf. The introduction of such regulatory regimes in the public sector in the first instance is a feature of such developments in other jurisdictions. The extension of these provisions to the private sector would involve further legislation of a complex nature.

In January 2007, I established the Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance chaired by Dr Deirdre Madden. The Commission is developing proposals to develop proposals for a health service wide system of governance based on corporate accountability for the quality and safety of all health services. One of its terms of reference is to specifically examine and make recommendations in relation to a statutory system of licensing for both public and private health care providers and services. The Commission is expected to issue its report in mid 2008. I am keeping this matter under active review.

Question No. 56 answered with QuestionNo. 50.

Hygiene Standards.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

57 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take to ensure that hygiene standards in public hospitals are significantly improved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29994/07]

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

69 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the review on hospital hygiene published by the Health Information and Quality Authority is a scandalous indictment of the management and governance of public hospitals here by both hospital management and the Health Service Executive and that lack of adequate hygiene indefensibly exposes patients to unacceptable risks of contracting MRSA, C. Difficile and other hospital acquired diseases; and the reason for her failure to ensure that appropriate structures are in place to provide proper hygiene throughout hospitals and to protect patients and the general public from unnecessary risk. [29952/07]

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

70 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the action taken by her to ensure proper standards of hygiene are maintained in hospitals here and to reduce the risk posed to patients by MRSA, C. Difficile and other hospital acquired diseases. [29953/07]

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

74 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in relation to the 2006 prevalence survey of healthcare associated infections in acute hospitals which found that Ireland had a lower prevalence rate of both HCAIs and MRSA than England, Wales or Northern Ireland, she has access to the survey results as broken down by reference to the individual hospitals here that participated in the survey; if so, if the rates of HCAI in those hospitals can be related with reasonable statistical confidence to their ratings in the review of hospital hygiene recently published by HIQA; if not, the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29978/07]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

80 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received the report of the first National Hygiene Service Quality Review by the Health Information and Quality Authority; the action she proposes to take in response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29944/07]

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

81 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the recent findings of the National Hygiene Services Quality Review 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29991/07]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

92 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children if, as a matter of policy, personnel in charge of hygiene in hospitals have the status to be able to insist that the necessary actions are taken to improve hygiene standards in their hospitals in the context of the HIQA report which showed that no hospital here has achieved very good hygiene status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29962/07]

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

111 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the findings of the National Hygiene Services Quality Review 2007 demonstrate that hygiene standards in public hospitals have not improved but have in actual fact deteriorated since the findings of the previous review by the Health Service Executive were published in June 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29993/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that hygiene standards or measures likely to prevent MRSA appear to have fallen or are not applied in recent times despite widespread public concern and initiatives taken by her Department and the Health Service Executive; if she will take steps to address the issues arising from the recent hospital hygiene audit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28040/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

192 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she, the Health Service Executive or another body or agency have been given responsibility to address the issue of hygiene in respect of some hospitals with a poor performance in the recent hygiene audit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30288/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

204 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason hospital hygiene standards appear to have deteriorated since the last hygiene audit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30300/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57, 69, 70, 74, 80, 81, 92, 111, 114, 192 and 204 together.

Achieving and maintaining the highest possible standards of hygiene in our hospitals and healthcare facilities generally is a priority for this Government.

The National Hygiene Services Quality Review on acute hospitals was published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on 13th November, 2007. The report represents a thorough assessment of how hygiene services are provided and managed in 51 HSE funded acute care hospitals. The method of assessment and criteria used are substantially different to previous audits carried out by the HSE and therefore the results are not comparable. The results do however set a very good benchmark for the future. It is important that our health service provides the highest possible standard of care for patients. Hygiene and infection control are among the essentials that we must get right. That is why the HIQA review not only looked at the immediate service delivery elements of hygiene but also examined the critical areas of governance and corporate management.

Hospitals generally performed well on hygiene in the service delivery area. Most hospitals achieved either extensive or exceptional compliance with the standard in the service delivery section of the report. However, the results were poor on governance. While improvements have been made and are acknowledged in the report, no hospital achieved a ‘very good' rating, 7 were categorised as ‘good', 35 as ‘fair' and 9 as ‘poor'.

I support the emphasis by HIQA on a ‘whole system' approach to hygiene. The report indicates clearly that the review is not, and was never intended to be, an absolute assessment of cleanliness in a given hospital. It provides a detailed assessment of performance across the entire range of areas that impact hygiene so that individual hospitals can identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.

While the good hygiene practice of front line staff highlighted in the report is vital, real improvement in this whole area also depends heavily on good leadership and a system of governance. A quality improvement plan now needs to be drawn up by all the hospitals and the HSE. This will continue to be monitored by HIQA as part of its ongoing quality assurance programme.

The HSE established a National Infection Control Action Plan in March 2007. An Infection Control Steering Group, chaired by Dr. Pat Doorley, National Director (Population Health), is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the plan. Over the next three to five years, the HSE aims to reduce Health Care Acquired Infections by 20%, MRSA infection by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%. Achievement of these targets will benefit all patients who are at risk. These targets will be achieved through the development of national and local level action plans to reduce the potential for spread of infections between persons in healthcare settings. A key element of the plan is to clearly set out the individual accountable in each hospital who will have the authority to ensure compliance with its various elements. The Steering Group is supported by eight Local Implementation Teams which will ensure that all local facilities are focused on achieving the national targets.

HIQA is currently working with managers and clinicians to develop national standards for Infection Prevention and Control. When completed these, along with the national hygiene standards, will provide a comprehensive framework to help reduce the spread of infection and improve the quality of our health care.

The results in the HIQA review cannot be directly compared to previous HSE hygiene audits or statistically linked to the results of the 2006 HCAI prevalence survey. However, I am satisfied that the progress made since the first HSE Hygiene Audit in 2005 and the measures being taken under the 2007 HSE National Infection Control Action Plan will contribute to significant improvements in hygiene standards and infection control.

Child Care Services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

58 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the further consultation with the community childcare sector that will be undertaken in relation to the community childcare subvention scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29945/07]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

66 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications received under the new community childcare subvention scheme; the means by which these will be assessed; if there will be proper consultation with the community childcare sector; if changes will be made to the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29941/07]

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

88 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the provisions she is making to help and support parents of lower and middle income families, previously using subsided childcare, who will have to pay full childcare costs, following changes in the way community childcare providers are funded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26177/07]

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

103 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the widespread concern expressed, the proposals for the community childcare subvention scheme will be changed to facilitate working parents on low incomes and to address fears that some facilities will have to close if the proposals are implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29955/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 66, 88 and 103 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP).

The main supports the Government makes available to parents to assist them with their childcare costs are Child Benefit and the Early Childcare Supplement. The latter payment, which is in recognition of the higher childcare costs of pre-school children, is the responsibility of my Office, and it alone amounts to expenditure of over €400m in a full year. These payments are universal and benefit all parents, regardless of their income, labour market status or the type of childcare they choose. In addition to these universal supports, Government childcare policy has also recognised the need to target additional supports towards disadvantaged families.

Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. Funding under this scheme was originally awarded for a limited period during which services were expected to move towards sustainability. This funding was subsequently continued to the end of 2007, where it was considered necessary to enable services to continue to make their services accessible to disadvantaged parents. This continuation funding was subject to the condition that tiered fee structures were implemented by the services in question. It would not be accurate, therefore, to describe this scheme as one which was intended to support middle income parents as it was an approved scheme for disadvantaged parents and their children.

Despite the closure of the EOCP in December 2007, the Government decided to continue to support community childcare services to provide affordable childcare to disadvantaged parents. Accordingly, the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is being introduced from January 2008 under the Exchequer funded National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP. The CCSS has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years, representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme. It will continue to support community childcare services to provide reduced childcare fees for disadvantaged parents, complementing the universal supports in place for all parents. Under the new scheme, it will be possible to ensure that the level of grant aid which individual services qualify for will reflect the actual level of service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. As part of their application for funding under the new scheme, services are being required to ask parents using their services to complete a simple declaration form which is to be included in a return to my Office. This information will be used to determine the level of subvention for each service. The subvention received by services will, in turn, be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

In practice, this will mean that community creches providing a service to children of parents in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) or parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS), will receive a weekly subvention in respect of these children. A higher subvention will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under 1 year. Parents who do not qualify for subvention will be charged the cost price for their childcare service. However, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

The new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by, and takes account of, a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported. The ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme.

The new scheme has clear advantages over its predecessor. There is an increase in the level of funding available under it, and a majority of services will benefit from the changes it introduces. Existing EOCP staffing grant recipients who enter the new scheme will continue to be funded at their current levels until July 2008. My Office has engaged in a series of meetings with existing grant recipients to outline to them the details of the new scheme and to gather feedback from the services themselves. A meeting with representatives of the City and County Childcare Committees has also taken place. My officials and I have been meeting with representatives of the Community Childcare sector on an ongoing basis since then regarding the Scheme. A number of concerns regarding possible anomalies have been raised at these meetings, and will be considered in the context of any modifications to the Scheme.

Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008, provided they apply to enter the new Scheme by submitting the data required as part of the application process of the new Scheme. Therefore I urge groups with applications outstanding to forward the completed applications to the Childcare Directorate of my Office as soon as possible to avail of the transitional funding. This funding is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. Initially, 780 Groups in receipt of EOCP staffing grants who had no compliance issues in respect of their current grant aid were requested to complete applications for the new Scheme. Of these, some 600 have been received to date. A further 52 groups were forwarded applications with a deadline of completion and return later this month. These returns, together with those from a significant number of groups who have contacted the Childcare Directorate of my Office and the City/County Childcare Committees requesting an extension, are expected by the end of this month. The Childcare Directorate has begun the process of analysing these returns and letters have already issued to 120 groups confirming that they will receive transitional funding for the period January to June 2008.

As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data which has been received from applicants this month. Where appropriate, adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for childcare services and for disadvantaged parents and their children, particularly where there are low income parents above the FIS threshold, will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008.

Vaccination Programme.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

59 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the basis, with regard to the primary childhood immunisation schedule, on which the decision was taken to include Hepatitis B and pneumococcus in the schedule from 2008; if there will be a catch-up programme for older children; if consideration was given to including Varicella Zoster in the schedule; if so, the reason this was not done; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27176/07]

Ireland's recommended immunisation programme is based on the guidelines of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. These guidelines are prepared with the assistance of an active committee from associated disciplines in paediatrics, infectious diseases, general practice and public health.

The policy decision to introduce Hepatitis B and pneumococcal vaccines into the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme was based on advice received from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee as part of its review of the immunisation guidelines. This advice is based on epidemiological information about the occurrence of these diseases and evidence as to the public health benefit to be obtained from immunisation. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee also commissioned cost benefit analyses of both of these measures. My Department received advice about a catch-up programme for children up to 2 years of age for pneumococcal vaccine and has conveyed this advice to the Health Service Executive. This advice has been taken into account by the Health Service Executive in preparing its 2008 service plan. As part of its ongoing work the National Immunisation Advisory Committee keeps all available vaccines under review. I understand that Varicella Zoster was considered by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee in the review of the immunisation programme but its inclusion in the programme was not recommended.

Departmental Investigations.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

60 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the investigation into breast cancer services at Midland Regional Hospital will be completed by the end of November 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30000/07]

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

87 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will conduct an independent enquiry into mammogram misdiagnosis at Portlaoise Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30002/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 87 together.

The review at the Midland Regional Hospital at Portlaoise covers all breast radiology diagnoses in the period from November 2003 to August 2007. The review is being led by Dr. Ann O'Doherty, Consultant Radiologist, St. Vincent's University Hospital. The HSE has advised that the review phase is now complete and a full report will be published shortly. Nine women have been identified as having a diagnosis of cancer. All nine women have been offered appropriate treatment and counselling.

The suspension of mammography services at Portlaoise continues pending the publication of the report. A Helpline is in operation at the Hospital for people who may need further information.

Medical Cards.

David Stanton

Ceist:

61 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children her Department’s policy regarding the treatment of medical card holders by private physiotherapists; the plans to alter same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29948/07]

There is no statutory obligation on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide community physiotherapy services but arrangements have been made in some regions to provide such services. Before the establishment of the HSE, the nature of any arrangements for community physiotherapy services and the level of service provided were a matter for individual health boards. As a result, variation in practice developed over time.

The HSE has informed me that, in some areas, local management have entered into Service Level Agreements with private physiotherapists to provide services to medical card holders who have been referred by their General Practitioners. These arrangements will be reviewed in the context of the ongoing development of primary care services and the legislative proposals being prepared by my Department to clarify and update existing legislation on eligibility for health and personal social services, including physiotherapy services.

Departmental Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

62 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if staff in her Department have been redeployed or reduced in the context of the transfer of much of the responsibility for overseeing the delivery of health services to the Health Service Executive; the areas of responsibility that have been transferred from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29980/07]

Arising from the health reform programme and the establishment of the HSE, a number of operational functions previously carried out by my Department have been transferred to the HSE. These include:

hospital planning

the administration of the voluntary hospital superannuation schemes and the nominated health agencies superannuation schemes

operational aspects of casemix and speciality costing

health promotion (advertising and awareness campaigns on health promotion and responsibility for funding voluntary organisations involved in health promotion initiatives only)

the administration of the Health Service Personnel Census.

The transfer of these functions involved a reduction of approximately 38 posts in my Department's approved complement of posts and some 17 individuals moved to the HSE on a permanent or secondment basis.

The approved complement for my Department at present is 530 posts. This includes nearly 70 posts in the Office of the Minister for Children but excludes the General Registration Office, the Adoption board, the Ombudsman for Children and the Repayment Scheme Appeals Unit.

Although the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of health services across the country, the Minister for Health & Children remains politically accountable for developing and articulating Government policy on health and personal social services, and for the overall performance of the health service. Clearly, I rely upon my Department to support me in this regard.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

63 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the action that will be taken in relation to the underspent money in the 2007 budget for the repayment to patients and families of money illegally charged in relation to long-stay care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29974/07]

The health repayment scheme was launched in August 2006 and is administered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in conjunction with the appointed Scheme Administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald.

The most up-to date information provided to me by the HSE indicates that a sum of €160m approximately will be paid out of the special account in 2007. This would mean that some €200m of the funding provided this year will not be required. However, the Government has provided a further €150m to cover repayments from the scheme in 2008. I understand that the Scheme Administrator has provided the HSE with assurances that all eligible claims received before the closing date of 31 December 2007 will be processed by the end of the contract period which expires at the end of June, 2008. The Government will ensure that provision is made to meet all appropriate costs arising under the scheme.

The HSE has indicated that the scheme is progressing as speedily as possible and every effort is being made to complete payments. The time taken to process each application varies depending on the complexity of the application, whether in the case of estates a grant of representation has been extracted and the availability of accurate records to calculate repayment.

As of 9 November 2007 over 31,000 claim forms have been received, 4,721 payments totalling over €93.4m have issued and 6,943 offers totalling over €134m have been made.

Contract Staff.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

64 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether it is not appropriate to have contract cleaners responsible for cleaning in clinical areas of hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29963/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy.

However, cleaning in hospitals is currently carried out by a combination of direct provision of cleaning services and contract cleaning. It is recognised that irrespective of the organisational arrangements, it is essential to monitor hospital hygiene on an ongoing basis. It is important that the focus is on levels of hygiene achieved rather than hours of cleaning provided. What matters is continuous improvement in hygiene not whether the cleaners are HSE or contract staff. I have been informed that a Cleaning Manual which was circulated by the HSE to all acute hospitals in September 2006 includes guidance on service level agreements with contract cleaning firms.

Health Service Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

65 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if the home help service has been affected by the Health Service Executive embargo on recruitment and overtime; if flexibility will be used locally in situations where extra home help hours can make the difference between a patient being able to go home from hospital or having to stay in an acute bed; the person who makes such decisions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29979/07]

The aim of the home help service is to enable older people and other dependent persons, who would otherwise need to be looked after in residential care, to live at home. The HSE acknowledges the importance of home helps as part of the community services team in supporting older people and other dependent persons to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

The home help national budget allocation has increased from €156m in 2005 to €207m in 2007, representing an increase of €51m since 2005 (33% increase). Due to the expansion of the service over recent years, the HSE now has a considerable workforce available to deliver the service. Currently, there are in excess of 17,000 predominantly part time home helps employed nationally in the delivery of the service to over 53,000 clients.

The level of home help required by any existing or new client is informed by an assessment of need which is carried out by HSE professional staff. This is monitored and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the assessed needs of clients continue to be met. This would include any requirement to provide additional home help hours if needed. Indeed, data from the HSE indicates that the total number of hours of home help services provided in September was above the average for the previous eight months.

Due to the nature of the service, there is considerable fluctuation in the level of assistance required by clients. In practice, this means that there is considerable flexibility and capacity in the HSE home help service to ensure that new clients requiring a service can be accommodated by the existing workforce. Therefore, the current pause in recruitment is manageable in the context of the delivery of the home help service.

Question No. 66 answered with QuestionNo. 58.

Hospital Services.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

67 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if, and the way it is intended to transfer resources including staff, from Mullingar and Portlaoise in the context of the transfer of cancer patients from those hospitals to the Mater and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29965/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular question raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Children in Care.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

68 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is developing a policy to deal with the increases in both the numbers of children committed to care in the past two years and the numbers of supervision orders applied for, as evidenced by the 174% increase in child care orders from 411 in 2004 to 1,125 in 2006, and the 90% increase in applications for supervision orders in the same period from 273 in 2004 to 520 in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24960/07]

Firstly, I understand that the figures used in the Deputy's question come from the Annual Reports of the Courts Service. I also understand that a reply to question 21560/07 which related to the same matter was recently issued to the Deputy by the HSE. This reply included data relating to the number of Care Orders and Supervision Orders in force in 2004 and 2005 and these figures differed from those quoted by the Deputy. Officials from my Office have arranged for the HSE and the Courts Service to examine these differences with a view to resolving any issues with the data.

With regard to policy relating to children in care, a number of initiatives in recent years are aimed, inter alia at ensuring that services for children and young people are delivered in an effective, efficient and coordinated manner. In support of these initiatives, over €240m additional revenue has been provided for child protection and welfare services since 1997. It would also be important to note that of the more than 5,000 children in the care of the state approximately 90% are in foster care.

The Office of the Minister for Children (OMC) was set up to bring greater coherence to policy making for children. Children now have a stronger voice on issues that affect them through my attendance at cabinet meetings. The OMC focuses on harmonising policy issues that affect children in areas such as early childhood care and education, youth justice, child welfare and protection, children and young people's participation, research on children and young people and cross cutting initiatives for children.

The OMC is responsible for

Implementing the National Children's Strategy (2000-2010)

Implementing the National Childcare Investment Programme (2006-2010)

Developing policy and legislation on child welfare and child protection

Implementing the Children Act 1991 and the Children Act (2001)

The Health Act 2004 provided for the Health Service Executive, which was established on 1 January 2005. Under the Act, the executive is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Again, the purpose of having one body with responsibility for services at a national level is to ensure the delivery of services in an effective, efficient and coordinated manner.

In the context of the implementation of the Children Act, 2001 the Health Service Executive is involved with the Irish Youth Justice Service, the Garda Juvenile Liaison Service, the Probation Service and the Courts Service in the co-ordination of services for young people.

The HSE also has a key role in the National Implementation Group established under the Partnership agreement "Towards 2016" which hopefully will lead to improved co-ordination of services to children and young people in each county.

The Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) has played a crucial role in ensuring a quality assured system of care for children and young people who are in the care of the state. Legislation and standards have been developed in this area and it is essential that the services are monitored to ensure that they meet these requirements and that any deficiencies are identified and corrected. The SSI have published annual reports on the findings from inspections and informs the HSE, other bodies involved in the provision of services for children and young people, and the public on the standard of care in children's residential centres. The SSI was established on an administrative basis in 1999 and concentrated on the child care area, in particular on the inspection of Health Service Executive (HSE) operated residential child care facilities and it had also undertaken pilot inspections of foster care services. Under the provisions of the Health Act 2007, the Office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services was established on a statutory basis as part of the Health Information and Quality Authority in May 2007 and will continue the role of the SSI.

In addition to the aforementioned significant developments, the Agenda for Children's Services is being developed by the Office of the Minister for Children and will be published in 2007. The principle of having social services provided on the basis of the child being supported within the family, within the local community will be at the core of the national policy.

Questions Nos. 69 and 70 answered with Question No. 57.

Hospital Services.

John Perry

Ceist:

71 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the date she expects the cancer centres of excellence to be fully operational; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29997/07]

John Perry

Ceist:

78 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff who will move to centres of excellence under the National Cancer Control Programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29998/07]

Joan Burton

Ceist:

100 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if, as promised in May 2007, costings have been prepared for the implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29957/07]

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

118 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the new National Cancer Chief Executive will see the implementation of the National Cancer Control Plan, which includes the transfer of all major cancer treatment to the eight designated specialist cancer centres, in view of the fact that they are only contracted for two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29999/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71, 78, 100 and 118 together.

The implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme is a major priority for me and for this Government. The recent decisions of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. The delivery of cancer services on a programmatic basis will serve to ensure equity of access to services and equality of patient outcome irrespective of geography. Prof. Tom Keane took up his position as interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme last Monday. Prof. Keane will be engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations.

Prof. Keane and the HSE have emphasised the importance of mobilising existing resources and redirecting them to achieve the National Cancer Control Programme objectives. The HSE is putting arrangements in place to enable Prof. Keane to take control of all new cancer developments from 1 January 2008 and progressively all existing cancer services and related funding and staffing. An additional €20.5m was allocated to the HSE this year for cancer control, including €3.5m to support the initial implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme. Further investment in cancer control will be based on the reform programme now being implemented by the HSE.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

72 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the discussions she has had with the Health Service Executive regarding the crisis in mammography services and the implications for wider cancer care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29940/07]

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

79 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the provisions that have been put in place to assist patients affected by the immediate closure of breast cancer services at 13 hospitals nationally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29996/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

193 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to announce the availability of a thoroughly reliable and available breast cancer diagnostic and treatment programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30289/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the equipment used in mammography tests was purchased at all sectors, public and private, where such tests are carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30290/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

197 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she has taken or proposes to take to upgrade the services available for diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer with particular reference to the need to ensure the availability of the highest quality and most reliable service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30293/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 79, 193, 194 and 197 together.

The development and improvement of diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer patients is a major priority in the development of cancer services. A national breast screening programme combined with quality assured symptomatic services nationally are key elements of our cancer control programme.

BreastCheck has commenced the screening process in the South and West. I am committed to ensuring that the BreastCheck service is rolled out to the remaining regions in the country as quickly as possible. I have allocated additional revenue funding of €8 million to the National Cancer Screening Service for this year to meet the additional costs involved. The full complement of 111 staff for roll-out has been approved. I have also made available an additional €26.7m capital funding for the construction of two new clinical units and the provision of seven additional mobile units and state of the art digital equipment. Construction commenced on the static sites at the South Infirmary/Victoria Hospital in Cork and University College Hospital Galway in November last year and final handover of the buildings is scheduled for the end of this month.

Arising from the designation of eight cancer centres nationally and in order to comply with the National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has directed a number of hospitals with very low case volumes to cease breast cancer services. The National Hospitals Office has already planned the redirection of this symptomatic caseload. Further staged reductions in the number of hospitals providing breast cancer services will occur over the next two years in line with the development of quality assured capacity in the eight designated centres.

The specific questions raised by the Deputies regarding mammography equipment and the provisions that have been put in place to assist patients affected by the transfer of breast cancer services relates to the management and delivery of health, personal and social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

73 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of the Health Service Executive contract with a company (details supplied); the length of time the contract is for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29971/07]

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

110 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of sending cervical smears from Ireland to a company (details supplied) in the past year; if she has satisfied herself that the method of testing equates with that here; the efforts being made to expand capacity in Ireland in order that this work can be carried out here; the extra capacity that will be needed for the roll out of the national cervical screening programme; if accreditation will be expedited for laboratories here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29954/07]

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

121 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the locations it is intended to have cervical smears and biopsies tested when the cancer control programme is rolled out; if it is intended to outsource some of this work to the US or the UK; her views on whether more of this work could be carried out here if the available graduates were recruited; if it is planned to accredit laboratories doing this work here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29972/07]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

125 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify that patients in the south east are continuing to have their smear tests screened at University College Hospital Galway; if the concerns raised on the capacity of the laboratory services in UCHG to cater for cervical screening in the west and the south east have been addressed; if capacity is adequate into the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29988/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73, 110, 121 and 125 together.

The National Cancer Screening Service is planning to roll out the National Cervical Screening Programme on a national basis early next year. Women aged 25 to 44 years old will be screened every 3 years; women aged 45 to 60 will be screened every 5 years. The Service will be available free of charge to eligible women.

All elements of the programme, call/recall, smear taking, laboratories, colposcopy and treatment services will be quality assured, organised and managed to deliver a single integrated national service. The programme will be based on a turnaround time of four weeks for smear testing. The Service will shortly be inviting laboratories that meet the requisite requirements to enter into service level agreements to achieve this objective.

The specific questions raised by the Deputies regarding the cost of sending cervical smear tests to a US based company, the duration of the contract , the quality of these tests and laboratory capacity at University College Hospital Galway relate to the management and delivery of health, personal and social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Question No. 74 answered with QuestionNo. 57.

Hospital Services.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

75 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the flexibility that will be given to Professor Tom Keane with regard to the provision of cancer care in the north west; if the retention of services in Sligo or Mayo or both is under consideration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29960/07]

The implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme is a major priority for me and for this Government. The recent decisions of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. The delivery of cancer services on a programmatic basis will serve to ensure equity of access to services and equality of patient outcome irrespective of geography. Prof. Tom Keane took up his position as interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme last Monday. Prof. Keane will be engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations.

The HSE has designated University College Hospital Galway and Limerick Regional Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Western Region, which includes Sligo and Mayo. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate. Where diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed by multi-disciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, then much of the treatment (other than surgery) can be delivered in local hospitals, such as Sligo General Hospital and Mayo General Hospital.

It is fully recognised that there are particular and unique geographical circumstances applying to Donegal. This is reflected in North-South co-operation in the provision of radiation oncology to patients from Donegal at Belfast City Hospital. On a sole exception basis, the Managed Cancer Control Network in the West will therefore be permitted to enter into outreach service delivery in Letterkenny as an additional activity. This exception is subject to quality assurance criteria and also to the proviso that the potential to meet the needs of cancer patients in Donegal through North-South initiatives, such as the Belfast radiation oncology service must be optimised and fully facilitated.

Consultancy Contracts.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

76 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the contracts that have been awarded to a UK consultancy firm (details supplied) in relation to the health service here; the amount it has been paid to date; the reports that remain to be completed; if it has been contracted to produce further reports; if so, the subjects in relation to same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29975/07]

My Department has not awarded a contract to the company in question. However, the company has undertaken consultancy work for the Health Service Executive. The Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE has been asked to reply to the Deputy in this regard.

Mental Health Services.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

77 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the findings of the recent study by the Health Research Board which showed that one in three patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals in 2001 were readmitted at least once during the following five years; if community mental health services will be improved to address same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29956/07]

This Report is the first study by the Health Research Board on re-admissions to Irish psychiatric units and hospitals. It examines the re-admission rate between 2001 and 2005.

The study found that re-admission will continue to be a feature for patients with recurring or enduring mental illnesses. It is appropriate that such patients be admitted and discharged as clinically indicated and not become part of a long stay population as would have been the norm in the past.

Since 2005, the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, "A Vision for Change" has been published. It provides a framework for action to develop a modern, high quality mental health service for a seven to ten year period. This policy envisions an active, flexible and community-based mental health service where the need for hospital admission will be greatly reduced.

Implementation of the individual recommendations of "A Vision for Change" is a matter primarily for the HSE. In July 2006, the HSE established an implementation group to ensure that mental health services develop in a synchronised and consistent manner across the country. The HSE intend to publish an implementation plan shortly which is to include a timed and prioritised set of short, medium and longer termgoals.

I expect the HSE to take account of the findings in this report. The Health Research Board is to be commended for this study. Studies like this, repeated at regular intervals, will provide us with useful indicators on the extent and effectiveness of implementation of policy.

Question No. 78 answered with QuestionNo. 71.
Question No. 79 answered with QuestionNo. 72.
Questions Nos. 80 and 81 answered with Question No. 57.

Hospital Services.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

82 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children the contingencies in place to treat patients denied treatment due to the closure of the orthopaedic unit at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan due to Health Service Executive cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29943/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Drug Treatment Programme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

83 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress being made on the provision of cocaine specific clinics where cocaine problems are most acute; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26311/07]

The question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

84 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children the action taken on foot of the investigation carried out by the Joint Committee on Health and Children into orthodontic services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29989/07]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) established an Orthodontic Review Group in 2006. One of the terms of reference for the group was to review the recommendations contained in the Joint Oireachtas Committee Reports on the Orthodontic Service in Ireland (February, 2002 and June, 2005). The Review Group's report, finalised this year, has been approved by the HSE's Management Team. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the question raised by the Deputy.

Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

85 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on the provision of a cervical cancer vaccine in this State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29947/07]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

95 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has asked the National Immunisation Advisory Committee to examine the possibility of making the human papilloma virus vaccine available either as part of a comprehensive vaccine schedule for adolescent women or to target groups; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27177/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 95 together.

The most effective strategy for the prevention of cervical cancer requires decisions based on an assessment of the relative contributions of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination and cervical screening in reducing the burden of both existing and projected cervical precancerous changes and cervical cancer. Issues to be examined include the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the vaccine for different age groups and for differing levels of screening provision and uptake.

As is being done in other jurisdictions, Ireland is now considering the potential role of HPV vaccination in addressing the problem of cervical cancer prevention. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recently undertaken a scientific assessment of the public health value of HPV following a request from my Department. NIAC and the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS), agreed that this work needed to be complemented by a study of the cost effectiveness of the vaccine in the current Irish context. Accordingly, both organisations requested that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) undertake this study.

One of the key functions of the Authority is the assessment of health technology, drugs and health promotion activities. When I have received the policy advice from HIQA and NCSS I will make the necessary decisions that arise from the advice.

A quality assured population based cervical screening programme aims to reduce cervical cancer in Ireland by approximately 80%. The NCSS is planning to roll-out such a programme early next year. A national cervical screening programme will still be required regardless of a decision on a HPV vaccination programme.

Hospital Accommodation.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

86 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of recommended inpatient beds and the number of such beds in the health service. [29401/07]

In 2001, the year of the publication of the Health Strategy, the average number of in-patient beds and day places available in the 53 public acute hospitals was 12,145, based on returns to the Department ( 11,374 in-patient beds and 771 day places). The provisional number of acute hospital beds recorded by the Health Service Executive for 2006 was 13,771( 12,574 in-patient beds and 1,197 day places) based on a total bed complement. The Programme for Government includes a commitment to provide an additional 1,500 public acute hospital beds. In this context the co-location initiative which was announced in July 2005, aims to deliver about a 1000 additional beds for public patients through the development of private hospitals on public sites. The balance of approximately 500 public acute hospital beds are at various stages of planning under the Health Service Executive's capital plan.

The HSE commissioned PA Consulting Group to undertake an independent review of acute bed capacity requirements for Ireland until the year 2020. My Department is advised that this review has now been completed.

The HSE will be arranging for discussions with the social partners and other interested parties around the findings of the Review in the context of the future development of both hospital and community based services.

Question No. 87 answered with QuestionNo. 60.
Question No. 88 answered with QuestionNo. 58.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

89 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the proposed changes to the wholesalers margin will be implemented from 1 December 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30001/07]

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

181 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will proceed with the proposed reduction of reimbursed cost price of medicines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30258/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 181 together.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. The Executive is also responsible for the negotiation of the supply of drugs and medicines for the GMS and community drugs schemes and the implementation of the new price arrangements from 1 December 2007. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

90 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of radiologists employed by the Health Service Executive; the number of radiologists with an expertise in breast cancer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30003/07]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

UN Conventions.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

91 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the location she exercised her responsibility in protecting the rights of the child, as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Ireland is a signatory; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30005/07]

The development and implementation of the National Children's Strategy 2000-2010 was the first step in bringing greater coherence to policy making for children and young people. In December 2005, the Government established Office of the Minister for Children (OMC) to support the further implementation of the Strategy with a particular emphasis on the better co-ordination of cross-government initiatives and activities. As Minister for Children, I have delegated functions in three government departments and attend meetings of the Cabinet on a regular basis. In that capacity I make observations on all decisions put before the government. My observations are guided by the impact, direct or indirect, of those decisions on the lives of children and young people. My assessment includes consideration of each decision in terms of the overall coherence of policy and legislative provisions relating to children and young people as well as Ireland's international commitments. These international commitments include the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child which Ireland signed and ratified in 1992.

Question No. 92 answered with QuestionNo. 57.

Hospital Staff.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

93 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that hospital staff who go on statutory leave are replaced during the recruitment embargo by the Health Service Executive in view of the legal underpinning of such leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29984/07]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Foreign Marriages.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

94 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she proposes to examine the laws governing the recognition of marriages by Irish citizens in jurisdictions outside the European Union; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27331/07]

An tÁrd Chláraitheoir (Registrar General) is the person with statutory responsibility for the administration of the Civil Registration System. I have made enquiries of the Registrar General and the position is as set out as follows.

As a general rule, marriages are legally recognised in Ireland if they are celebrated in accordance with the applicable laws relating to marriage of the country in which they are solemnised.

For a couple to contract a valid marriage, they must possess the capacity to marry and the necessary legal formalities must be observed. Capacity to marry is determined by the laws applicable in the jurisdiction in which each party is domiciled. The formalities are those required by the lex locus celebrations (i.e. the laws of the place where the marriage is celebrated).

Under Section 33 of the Family Law Act 1995, a marriage solemnised outside the State where, at the time the marriage is solemnised either or both of the parties was under 18 years, and where no court exemption was obtained, is invalid. This provision applies to persons ordinarily resident in the State.

When Irish citizens marry abroad, it is important that such marriages are not polygamous or potentially polygamous, that they are registered with the civil authorities of the jurisdiction in which the marriage is solemnised, and that a certified copy of the entry in the register of marriages can be obtained.

Where a doubt as to the validity of a marriage exists, Section 29 of the Family Law Act 1995 provides that an application may be made to the Circuit Family Court for an order declaring, inter alia, that a marriage was at its inception a valid marriage. Recognition of the validity or otherwise of any marriage is therefore a matter for the Circuit Family Court and there are no plans to change the existing legislation at the present time.

Question No. 95 answered with QuestionNo. 85.

Hospital Services.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

96 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if all oncology services in the north east region and at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, in particular, will remain in place until centres of excellence are fully functioning in order that the 1,000 patients attending Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital weekly can avail of a reasonable level of service rather than having patients who are very ill, and in many cases dying, being forced into already overcrowded wards in Beaumont and the Mater hospitals in Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29942/07]

The implementation of the National Cancer Control Programme is a major priority for me and for this Government. The recent decisions of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. The delivery of cancer services on a programmatic basis will serve to ensure equity of access to services and equality of patient outcome irrespective of geography. Prof. Tom Keane took up his position as interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme last Monday. Prof. Keane will be engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations.

The HSE has designated Beaumont Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Dublin North East Region. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate. Where diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed by multi-disciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, then much of the treatment (other than surgery) can be delivered in local hospitals, such as Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

97 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the development of services at Portiuncula Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29744/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Drug Treatment Programme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

98 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount the average cost of methadone treatment is per patient, per year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26307/07]

The question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Proposed Legislation.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

99 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is intended to proceed with plans to introduce legislation to establish a register of persons considered unsafe to work with children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29985/07]

The Deputy refers to a very complex matter. As the Deputy is aware there are some provisions in relation to convicted sex offenders which makes it a criminal offence for a convicted sex offender to apply for employment involving children. I assume, however, that the Deputy is referring to a register similar to those operated by the neighbouring jurisdiction whereby persons who have not been convicted of an offence but in relation to whom there is sufficient concern based upon information available to the statutory authorities that they should not be permitted to seek employment with children and vulnerable adults. A key component of such a register referred to above is the ability to exchange information, which would fall short of the threshold for prosecution or conviction and to receive such information from third parties, employers, etc and to act upon it.

I am advised that currently constitutional difficulties would arise in trying to legislate to effectively establish such a register of persons considered unsafe to work with children. As the Deputy is aware, an amendment to the Constitution addressing provision for legislation on the collection and exchange of information relating to the endangerment, sexual exploitation or sexual abuse of children or risk thereof , of children or other persons is one of a number of issues addressed by the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution Bill 2007. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, which is being established, will examine the proposed amendment in the Bill with a view to further deepening consensus on this matter. It is envisaged that the published Bill will provide a framework for the work of the Committee. It is planned to consider the introduction of the legislation that the Deputy refers to in the context of the outcome of the work of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children.

Question No. 100 answered with QuestionNo. 71.

Hospital Services.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

101 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the development of services at Roscommon County Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29743/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

102 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of inpatient beds in the health service to treat eating disorders. [29402/07]

St Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin provides a referral service for public patients with eating disorders and has three dedicated national public beds for the assessment of such patients. Some HSE areas have placed public patients with eating disorders in St Patrick's Hospital and St John of God's private facilities when required. In a limited number of cases, consultants make referrals to other specialised eating disorder private services in Dublin or the UK.

The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, entitled "A Vision for Change", which was launched in January 2006, provides a framework for action to develop a modern, high quality mental health service over a 7 to 10 year period. "A Vision for Change" acknowledges gaps in the current provision of services for people with eating disorders and makes several recommendations for the further improvement of these services.

Recommendations include support for health promotion initiatives that encourage greater community and family awareness of eating disorders, training on eating disorders for undergraduate and postgraduate training of health professionals, the further development of primary and community care services including the management of eating disorders in children and adolescents by the child and adolescent community mental health teams, the creation of specialist multidisciplinary adult teams and the provision of a full multidisciplinary team in a National Centre for Eating Disorders for complex cases that cannot be managed by local child and adolescent community mental health teams. Responsibility for the implementation of these recommendations rests with the HSE.

A sum of €750,000 has been allocated to the HSE in 2007 to develop services for the treatment of eating disorders. €500,000 of this funding was provided to enhance the service in the Elm Mount Unit, St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin and the balance of €250,000 has been allocated to HSE South to commence the development of an eating disorder service. In addition, funding was provided for the development of 16 child and adolescent community mental health teams in 2006 and 2007.

Question No. 103 answered with QuestionNo. 58.

Health Service Reform.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

104 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans and the timescale for the rationalisation of the health services in the north east in the context of the Teamwork Report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29982/07]

The Health Service Executive is seeking to improve safety and standards across the acute hospital network in the North East Region, having regard to the issues raised in the Teamwork Management Services Report — "Improving Safety and Achieving Better Standards — An Action Plan for Health Services in the North East".

The Teamwork Report includes a number of recommendations to improve patient care in the region. It particularly highlights the need to develop a high quality, responsive emergency and planned service, in line with international standards. It recommends that there be one major regional hospital in the North East, supported by the five existing local hospitals. The new hospital is to provide emergency and trauma services on a 24-hour basis and also provide planned specialist procedures that are complex and require the facilities of a large regional hospital.

The reconfiguration process is being overseen by a HSE Steering Group. The specific issue relating to time-scale is a matter for the HSE. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to have this particular issue investigated and to reply directly to the deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

105 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if an assessment has been carried out on the way the recruitment embargo is affecting waiting lists for operations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29983/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

106 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children when work will commence on the provision of additional beds at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire which are urgently needed for patients all over the country; if step-down beds are included in the hospital’s future development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24951/07]

The questions raised by the Deputy in relation to the development of the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dun Laoghaire are a matter for the Health Service Executive. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Private Nursing Homes.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

107 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects that national standards on private nursing homes as announced by HIQA in August 2007 will be finalised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29966/07]

Currently, private nursing homes are registered in accordance with the Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 and are subject to inspection by the Health Service Executive on the basis of the standards set out in the Care and Welfare Regulations 1993.

However, the Deputy will be aware that the Health Act 2007 provides for the registration and inspection of all nursing homes – public, private and voluntary. As the Act provides that the enhanced inspection function will be taken over by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), draft standards (prepared by a Working Group chaired by the Department of Health and Children) were formally referred to HIQA in January 2007 for consultation and finalisation. The Authority established a wide-ranging Working Group to finalise the draft standards. The group held its first meeting on 30th January and has met on a regular basis since.

On 8 August, 2007 the Authority published their draft for public consultation prior to finalising the standards. Members of the public, service users, their families, service providers and all those with an interest in residential care for older people were invited to submit their views on the draft before Monday 17 September 2007.

The results of the public consultation were discussed at the most recent meeting of the HIQA Working Group on Friday 19th October. It is proposed to hold 2 further meetings of the Working Group to finalise the standards. The next step in the process will involve the standards being referred to the Minister for approval. Following this, Regulations will be drafted to give statutory underpinning to the Standards.

In the interim, the HSE is continuing to inspect private nursing homes using the 1993 Care and Welfare Regulations.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

108 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if there will be a standardisation of top-up and enhanced nursing home subventions across the country and an equality of rights for patients in nursing homes who have medical cards in the context of the proposed fair deal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29967/07]

In December 2006 the Minister announced that the subvention scheme would be replaced by a new nursing home support scheme — A Fair Deal. It is intended to have the legislation for the scheme in place by 1 January 2008.

This scheme will apply to everyone who needs nursing home care, whether a person holds a medical card or not. Most older people in long-term care already have medical cards since they are 70 years and older.

The proposed new scheme aims to remedy the inequities that exist in the current system. At present, people face greatly different costs depending on whether they are in public or private nursing homes. In addition, individual contributions in public places are based on a flat rate regardless of an individual's wealth, whereas State support for individuals in private places is based on means testing. This means that many people in private nursing homes get no support, and even with subvention, people can face costs they cannot afford. The result is that some people are forced to sell or mortgage their homes to pay for care costs.

In contrast, the new nursing home support scheme will ensure that long-term residential care is affordable for all who need it. Contributions during a person's life will be affordable and they will not have to sell or mortgage their house to meet the contribution. Furthermore, a person's family will not have to contribute towards the cost of their care.

The new scheme will be based on national standard processes, ensuring that people with the same means contribute the same amount towards their care regardless of whether they are in a public or private nursing home and regardless of where they live.

Health Action Plan.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

109 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the OECD report on health in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29946/07]

The publication, OECD Health at a Glance 2007, provides comparable key health data up to and including 2005 across a range of measurements on health and health systems in OECD countries. These data are valuable in benchmarking Ireland against our OECD counterparts. The overall picture presented is of substantial and continuing improvement. In those specific areas where the data show us performing less well than other OECD countries, the objective is to concentrate our efforts to realise the necessary improvements. Some of the main areas covered in the Report are discussed below.

In relation to matters such as life expectancy and infant mortality, Ireland scores well. The report notes that life expectancy in Ireland stands at 79.5 years in 2005. This is above the OECD average of 78.6 and the EU27 average. Infant mortality rates in Ireland have fallen dramatically over the last few decades. The rate is 4 deaths per 1000 live births in 2005, lower than the OECD average of 5.4.

Between 1980 and 2004, our mortality rates for ischemic heart disease and stroke have fallen by 55% and 66% respectively.

Over the same period (1980 to 2004), the mortality rate for all cancers together has fallen by 9%. For breast cancer, the five year relative survival rate in Ireland is 79.7% for the period 1999 to 2004 which shows an improvement over the period 1994 to 1998 when the rate was 73%. However, it is clear that there is room for improvement in the mortality rates and that this has already been clearly set out in the Strategy for Cancer Control. The two most important contributors to improving this pattern will be enhanced access to earlier diagnosis (through screening roll-out) and the implementation of the O'Higgins Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services which will concentrate services in fewer centres and enable the monitoring of quality of these services.

Ireland ranks high in terms of the percentage of adults reporting to be in good health. 83% of Irish people rated their health to be good or very good or excellent compared with the OECD average of 69%, placing Ireland in 6th position.

The report notes that total expenditure on health accounted for 7.5% of GDP in Ireland in 2005. When calculated as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI), which does not include exported profits, the figure rises to 8.8% which puts Ireland close to the OECD average of 9%. Using the measure of current health expenditure as a share of actual final consumption, Ireland scores above the OECD average with a 13.5% share of final consumption allocated to health compared with an OECD average of 12.8%.

Ireland's health spending per capita is 2,926 US$ (adjusted for purchasing power parity) which is above the OECD average of 2,759 US$. In terms of the annual average growth rate in real health expenditure per capita between 1995 and 2005, Ireland has the third highest growth rate of 7.2% behind Luxembourg and Korea and ahead of the OECD average of 4%.

The public share of total expenditure on health in Ireland in 2005 was 78%, above the OECD average of 73%.

Ireland had the highest annual average growth rate in pharmaceutical expenditure per capita between 1995 and 2005 at 7.6% compared with an OECD average of 4.6%.

The report notes that Ireland has 2.8 acute hospital beds per 1,000 population compared with an OECD average of 3.9. However, the data for Ireland does not include acute beds located in private hospitals and would need to be adjusted to reflect our relatively young population. The share of population aged 65 and over was 11.2% in 2005, the fourth lowest and well below the OECD average of 14.7%.

The OECD report notes that Ireland is above the average in terms of the number of nurses per 1000 population in 2005. There has been an increase of 45% in the number of whole-time nurses employed in the public health service since 1997.

With regard to medical manpower, the Report shows 2.8 physicians per 1,000 population in Ireland in 2005 which is just below the average for the OECD of 3 per 1,000. A Government initiative on medical education and training, announced in February 2006, will involve a more than doubling of the medical school places for EU students from 305 to 725. An additional 110 EU undergraduate places were provided between 2006 and 2007, and the first 60 graduate entry places were provided in 2007.

The report notes that 63% of the over 65s in Ireland receive the influenza vaccine which is higher than the OECD average of 55.3%. The figure for the UK is 75% and Australia has the highest coverage rate of 79.1%.

The report also shows that Ireland has the second highest alcohol consumption with 13.5 litres per capita for the population aged 15 years and over. The OECD average was 9.5.

Question No. 110 answered with QuestionNo. 73.
Question No. 111 answered with QuestionNo. 57.

Hospital Services.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

112 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied that there is adequate provision for the isolation of patients who are a risk to other patients due to infection; the general provision of single rooms in acute hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29961/07]

Tackling HCAIs, including MRSA is a priority for the government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE has established a National Infection Control Action Plan. An Infection Control Steering Group, chaired by Dr. Pat Doorley, National Director (Population Health) is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the plan. Over the next three to five years, the HSE aims to reduce HCAIs by 20%, MRSA infections by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%. Achievement of these targets will benefit all patients who are at risk. These targets will be achieved through the development of national and local level action plans to reduce the potential for spread of infections between persons in health care settings, and, in addition, will focus on reducing antibiotic use in Ireland. The Steering Group is supported by eight Local Implementation Teams which will ensure that all local facilities are focused on achieving the national targets.

The availability of isolation facilities is an important factor in the overall solution to this issue. I have already agreed with the HSE that designated private beds should be used where such facilities are required for patients who contract MRSA and this policy has been adopted by the HSE. The need generally for more isolation facilities for infection control purposes has already been taken into account in the planning of new buildings in recent years. In addition, new environmental building guidelines are being prepared by the HSE to inform infection control policy in all future new builds and refurbishments.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

113 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to receive the report on cancer diagnosis and care in relation to Barrington’s Hospital/University College Hospital Galway pathology laboratory; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29970/07]

In co-operation with Barrington's Hospital, an expert group has been established to undertake a clinical review of the cases of women who attended the symptomatic breast disease services at the Hospital between September 2003 and August 2007. The group expects to complete its work in December.

The Health Information and Quality Authority has commenced an investigation into the pathology and symptomatic breast disease services provided by University College Hospital Galway in respect of the period 1 January 2005 to 31 May 2007. Terms of reference have been agreed and an investigation team has been established. It is expected that a full report will issue in January 2008.

Question No. 114 answered with QuestionNo. 57.

Medical Cards.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

115 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people holding a medical card and a doctor only medical card at the end of October 2007; the figures for each of the categories at the end of October 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29977/07]

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card, would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, child care and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the assessment guidelines for GP visit cards and these are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

Details of the number of medical card and GP visit card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive. The figures are provided on a net basis showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of an applicant's circumstances.

The following table shows the number of medical cards and GP visit cards as at 1st of November 2007 and at 1st of November 2006.

Card Type

1st November 2006

1st November 2007

No. of Medical Cards

1,216,344

1,270,873

No. of GP Visit Cards

42,026

74,671

Total

1,258,370

1,345,544

Health Service Reform.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the individual, body, group or agency currently influential or most influential in the determination of the location and delivery of vital health services throughout the country; if most consideration is given to economic, medical or patient care and delivery of service expeditiously to the population as required; the template or templates which now form the basis for the formation and delivery of health policy in the future; if these coincide or are at variance with the various reports commissioned by her Department over the past eight years; if it is her intention to develop the services in line with the recommendations of any or either of such reports or an alternative; if her attention has been drawn to the widespread public concern and growing lack of confidence in some aspects of the service; if she has proposals or measures to address these issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28041/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

202 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the template to which her Department is currently operating the general hospital services with particular reference to the multiplicity of reports commissioned including the ten year report, the Hanley Report and the Brennan Report; if she is working towards one or all of these models; the extent to which this will bring about closedown, replacement or co-location; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30298/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 202 together.

Government policy is to provide safe, high-quality services that achieve the best possible outcomes for patients in line with best practice. This objective guides the configuration and development of services and outweighs all other considerations. This is not a resource issue, but a patient safety one.

The delivery of hospital services needs to be re-balanced so that, in the future, those services that can be safely delivered locally are delivered locally, more complex services requiring specialist input are concentrated at regional centres, and highly specialised services are delivered in national centres.

This issue has come to the fore most recently in the case of cancer care. There is an abundance of strong, international evidence to show that patients with cancer have the best chance of survival if they are treated by clinicians who treat a large number of patients with a similar condition per year. To secure these benefits requires a consolidation of cancer treatment services to a smaller number of centres.

A clear case for the re-organisation of the delivery of cancer services in Ireland was articulated by the National Cancer Forum, a multi-disciplinary group of experts. Having reviewed patterns of surgical activity in Ireland, the Forum concluded that "the current arrangements for the delivery of cancer services are not generally in accordance with best practice and cannot be recommended to deliver best-quality cancer care".

The Strategy recommended a move towards eight cancer centres nationally to ensure that cancer patients have access to consistently high quality care and the best chance of survival.

The HSE Advisory Group on Cancer Control, also a multi-disciplinary group of experts, advised on the hospitals to be designated as cancer centres nationally. The decisions of the HSE in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. Professor Keane, interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme, took up his post this week. The delivery of cancer services on a programmatic basis will serve to ensure equity of access to services and equality of patient outcome irrespective of geography. Professor Keane will be engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations.

Last June, I approved National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services under the Health Act 2007. The aim of the standards is to ensure that every woman in Ireland who develops breast cancer has an equal opportunity to be managed in a centre which is capable of delivering the best possible outcome. As a first step in implementing the Standards, the Executive has directed thirteen hospitals with low case volumes (less than twenty procedures per year) to cease breast cancer services immediately, to be followed by further staged reductions in the number of hospitals providing breast cancer services.

In summary, the optimum configuration of health services is a complex and difficult issue. It needs to be managed in a consistent and coherent manner to ensure that we provide high quality and safe services to the population.

Proposed Legislation.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

117 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will set up an independent complaints procedure for patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29987/07]

There are currently no such proposals in this area. I would point out that there is a range of provisions in legislation to address circumstances where complaints arise. I refer to: Part 9 of the Health Act 2004 and the Health Act 2004 (Complaints) Regulations 2006; The Disability Act 2005; The Mental Health Act 2001 (Approved Centres) Regulations 2006; The Medical Practitioners Acts 1978 to 2007; The Nurses Act (1985); Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005; and The Pharmacy Act 2007.

In relation to Part 9 of the Health Act 2004, I would point out that a complainant is also entitled to refer his or her complaint to the Ombudsman or Ombudsman for Children, as appropriate, where he or she is dissatisfied with the recommendation made or any of the steps taken by the Health Service Executive or service provider in relation to the complaint.

The Commission on Patient Safety and Quality Assurance was established by me in January this year to develop clear and practical recommendations to ensure that quality and safety of care for patients is paramount within the health care system. The Commission is due to report to me next June. Should there be any recommendations made by the Commission in relation to the handling of complaints from patients, I will be happy to consider them.

Question No. 118 answered with QuestionNo. 71.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

119 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in view of the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer of the Health Service Executive, as well as that of her Department’s Hospital Planning Office and the National Development Finance Agency, the proposed radiotherapy network will not be delivered through PPP by the target date of 2011; if it will be delivered by this time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30004/07]

It is my objective and that of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to see the earliest delivery of the Government's National Plan for Radiation Oncology. The HSE will shortly appoint a National Director of Radiation Oncology to report to the National Cancer Control Director.

My Department and the HSE have been working closely to expedite the delivery of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology. The HSE has confirmed that it will have in place radiation oncology capacity to meet the needs of the population by 2010. After 2010 the HSE will continue to increase capacity to ensure that these needs continue to be met. I am fully confident that this will be achieved through a combination of direct Exchequer provision, PPP and where appropriate, the use of the private sector.

Hospital Services.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

120 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is proposed to close private cancer facilities that do not have the throughput of patients and standard of assessment and care that is considered necessary under the National Cancer Strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29986/07]

In line with the National Cancer Control Strategy, I would expect that cancer services will only be provided in centres that meet minimum standards, such as the recently approved National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease Services, irrespective of whether these centres are publicly or privately financed and managed. I have called on hospitals in the independent sector to take steps to ensure that their breast cancer services comply with these Standards and I have brought the Standards to the attention of private health care insurers.

Question No. 121 answered with QuestionNo. 73.

Health Service Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

122 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of posts on 1 January 2007 and the number on 1 November 2007 in the context of the requirement for permission from her Department for the creation of senior and middle management posts in the Health Service Executive for the past year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29981/07]

Under the terms of the Employment Control Framework introduced in December 2006, the HSE is required to obtain the prior approval of this Department and the Department of Finance for the filling of posts at Grade VIII and above. To date, 44 applications have been received for 2007 in line with this process and 24 of these have been approved.

According to the Health Service Personnel Census, there were 17,262 whole time equivalents in the overall Management/Administration category on 31 December 2006 and 18,421 in this category on 30 September 2007.

As operational responsibility for the Health Service Personnel Census rests with the Health Service Executive, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to provide the Deputy with further detailed information in relation to posts at Grade VIII level and above.

Infectious Diseases.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

123 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the increase in MRSA cases in hospitals from 445 cases in 2002 to 588 cases in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26897/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

203 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of reported incidents of MRSA throughout the entire hospital or health system in each of the past five years; the action taken to address this issue; the results of such measures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30299/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 203 together.

MRSA is not a notifiable disease. However, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre of the HSE collects data on MRSA. The data is collected on the first episode of blood stream infection of MRSA per patient per quarter. This system showed that there were 445 cases in 2002, 480 cases in 2003, 553 cases in 2004, 592 cases in 2005 and 588 in 2006. Figures for the first six months of 2007 show that there were 292 cases.

The increase in reported cases of MRSA bloodstream infection between 2002 and 2006 is directly related to improved surveillance. In 2002, 23 laboratories in Ireland were reporting into the system. By 2006 the number of laboratories reporting had increased to 42. Between 2002 and 2006 both the proportion of MRSA and the bloodstream infection rate have remained unchanged at 42% and 0.15 cases per 1,000 bed days used, respectively. Data for this year, to date, suggests that the number of reported cases of MRSA bloodstream infection for 2007 will not be significantly different from 2006 or preceding years.

A new National Surveillance System has recently been established to collect data and provide information on a quarterly basis on four key areas, to monitor Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs) in our health care system: Staphylococcus bacteraemia; Antibiotic consumption; Alcohol gel use; and MRSA surveillance in Intensive Care Units. The first report is expected shortly and eventually 52 hospitals and 30 local health offices will report into this system.

Tackling HCAIs, including MRSA is a priority for the government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE has established a National Infection Control Action Plan. An Infection Control Steering Group, chaired by Dr. Pat Doorley, National Director (Population Health) is responsible for overseeing implementation of the plan. Over the next three to five years, the HSE aims to reduce HCAIs by 20%, MRSA infections by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%. Achievement of these targets will benefit all patients who are at risk. These targets will be achieved through the development of national and local level action plans to reduce the potential for spread of infections between persons in health care settings, and, in addition, will focus on reducing antibiotic use in Ireland. The Steering Group is supported by eight Local Implementation Teams which will ensure that all local facilities are focused on achieving the national targets.

The HSE has appointed a number of new infection control nurses, surveillance scientists and antibiotic pharmacists. These staff will strengthen specialist support for infection control and facilitate the development of the national surveillance system. I have instructed the HSE that designated private beds should be used where isolation facilities are required for patients who contact MRSA.

While accepting that not all HCAIs are preventable, I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rates of infection and to treat them promptly when they occur. The first report of the HSE's new National Surveillance System will provide a sound basis for assessment of results of the improvement measures into the future.

Health Services.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

124 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in preparing a report on transport needs within the health services as promised to the Public Accounts Committee in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29958/07]

The HSE is currently undertaking a national review of the transport needs of persons who fall within the eligibility criteria. This review will provide guidance for the future direction and management of patient transport requirements and the models of delivery required. My Department is advised that the Health Service Executive is also currently engaged with other stakeholders, including the Departments of Health and Children, Transport and Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in examining the transport requirements of persons, other than those who require emergency transport by ambulance.

As operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy in this matter.

Question No. 125 answered with QuestionNo. 73.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

126 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children her views regarding the provision of teeth whitening services in beauty salons which do not have a dentist on the premises; if this is against the law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29990/07]

Under the European Communities (Cosmetic Products) Regulations (S.I. No. 870 of 2004) tooth whitening products containing up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide present or released are permitted for general sale. Products containing above this limit may not be placed on the market.

The view of the European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) was sought on the possibility of increasing the limit for hydrogen peroxide present or released taking into account the various products available on the market.

The SCCP's opinion was that the use of tooth whitening products up to 0.1% hydrogen peroxide is safe. The use of tooth whitening products containing >0.1% to 6.0% hydrogen peroxide is considered safe after consultation with and approval of the consumer's dentist.

The process of updating legislation regulating tooth-whitening products is still ongoing. Until a decision is reached existing legislation applies.

Task Force on Alcohol.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

127 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the recommendations of the Task Force on Alcohol that are relevant to her Department that have been implemented; when she will implement the remaining recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29973/07]

The Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, which was established in January 2002, published two reports which together provide approximately 100 recommendations across a wide range of sectors. Many of the recommendations are cross sectoral and require the cooperation of different stakeholders. My Department is maintaining a coordinating role in relation to alcohol policy and is continuing to pursue implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force. To date progress has also been made in terms of research projects, the delivery of Responsible Server Training, awareness raising campaigns etc. Work is also continuing in a number of other areas.

A number of the recommendations contained in the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol concern a reduction in the exposure of children and adolescents to alcohol advertising, marketing and sponsorship. In response to these, the Department entered into negotiations with the broadcasting, media and drinks industries to restrict alcohol advertising, sponsorship and sales promotions / marketing practices. This resulted in the establishment of Central Copy Clearance Ireland which addresses the issue of the content of alcohol advertisements. A Voluntary Code of Practice on Advertising was also agreed which addresses the issue of placement of advertising. The Alcohol Marketing and Communications Monitoring Body was put in place to oversee the implementation of the Voluntary Codes.

The first Annual Report of the Alcohol Marketing Communications Monitoring Body for 2006 was submitted to the Minister for Health and Children for consideration on 19th July 2007. Following consideration of the Report my Department has decided to commence discussions with the relevant stakeholders with a view to strengthening and expanding the current voluntary codes on alcohol marketing and communications in order to provide significantly greater protection for children and young people. I will give further consideration to the possibility of using legislation in this area depending on the outcome of these discussions.

With regard to sponsorship of sporting and youth events by alcohol companies my Department intends to raise this issue with the alcohol industry representatives during the course of the broader discussions on advertising and marketing referred to already.

Earlier this year, the Government approved the allocation close to €1 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support 19 community-based projects aimed at tackling Alcohol Related Harm. The intention of this funding is to facilitate interventions and supports to strengthen community-based responses to alcohol related harm.

While a number of youth cafés have emerged around the country on an ad hoc basis, an integrated approach is now proposed in the provision of youth cafés. The launch of the National Recreation Policy in September this year highlighted the Government's commitment to the development of youth cafés. Consideration is being given to how best to develop a coherent structured programme for the development of youth cafés as well as the most appropriate lead agency for the management and administration of a funding scheme.

On alcohol treatment and early interventions, the Health Service Executive is continuing to work with the Irish College of General Practitioners in respect of leading out brief interventions and treatment in primary care settings. The HSE is also working towards the establishment of systematic screening and brief interventions in acute hospital settings.

In 2006 a Report entitled "Working Together to Reduce the Harms Caused by Alcohol Misuse" was produced by a Working Group established under the Sustaining Progress Special Initiative on Alcohol and Drugs Misuse. The Working Group agreed on a programme of actions to deliver targeted results in relation to underage drinking, binge drinking and drink driving. An Implementation Group has now been established to monitor and report on progress on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. The Implementation Group's membership comprises key stakeholders in Government Departments and Agencies and the Social Partners and is expected to report by early 2008. My Department continues to actively support the work of the Implementation Group which is considering a broad range of issues such as alcohol labelling and the development of a voluntary Code of Practice for the Sale and Promotion of Alcohol in the off-trade/retail sector.

Unemployment Levels.

Damien English

Ceist:

128 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach the average rate of unemployment for men and women for each of the past ten years with a county breakdown in tabular readable form. [30147/07]

Statistics on the labour force are compiled from the Quarterly National Household Survey. Statistics from this source are only available at a NUTS3 regional level. Unemployment rate details as requested by the Deputy are set out in the following table.

Persons aged 15 years and over classified by unemployment rates (ILO), sex and region, 1997-2007

Region

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Males

Dublin

10.9

8.2

5.5

4.1

3.3

4.4

4.4

5.1

5.1

5.6

5.2

South East

11.0

9.3

7.7

4.6

4.3

4.7

5.8

5.6

6.0

5.4

5.0

Mid East

7.4

6.4

4.2

3.6

2.7

3.2

3.1

3.5

3.0

3.1

4.0

Midlands

8.0

6.6

6.6

5.1

3.4

3.6

4.9

4.7

4.3

4.7

4.1

South West

10.3

8.0

5.4

3.5

3.9

4.4

4.6

4.6

4.2

3.7

3.6

Mid West

7.8

6.6

4.3

4.0

3.7

4.3

4.3

5.0

4.9

3.9

5.6

West

9.1

6.3

4.9

4.2

3.8

4.8

4.4

4.0

3.4

3.2

4.1

Border

13.8

11.6

9.2

6.6

5.7

7.0

7.1

5.9

5.0

5.0

5.7

State

10.2

8.0

5.9

4.3

3.8

4.5

4.7

4.9

4.6

4.5

4.7

Females

Dublin

10.3

6.0

3.8

2.6

2.5

2.7

3.1

3.2

3.2

3.7

3.3

South East

12.2

10.3

9.5

5.3

5.1

4.6

5.5

4.6

5.1

4.4

5.2

Mid East

10.1

8.1

4.2

3.9

3.1

3.5

2.7

2.7

2.3

3.7

4.1

Midlands

12.7

10.3

6.3

6.0

4.3

4.4

5.6

4.5

3.5

3.1

4.8

South West

10.6

7.5

5.9

4.3

3.4

3.6

4.0

3.7

4.1

3.6

3.3

Mid West

10.2

7.3

6.0

3.8

3.2

2.6

4.1

5.1

4.4

4.0

5.9

West

10.9

6.7

5.4

5.7

3.8

4.8

3.2

3.4

4.2

5.6

5.2

Border

12.1

8.1

7.8

6.5

5.1

6.2

5.3

4.3

4.9

5.1

4.9

State

10.8

7.4

5.5

4.2

3.5

3.7

3.9

3.7

3.8

4.1

4.2

All Persons

Dublin

10.7

7.2

4.8

3.4

3.0

3.6

3.8

4.3

4.2

4.8

4.3

South East

11.5

9.7

8.4

4.9

4.6

4.7

5.7

5.2

5.6

5.0

5.1

Mid East

8.4

7.1

4.2

3.7

2.8

3.3

2.9

3.2

2.7

3.3

4.1

Midlands

9.7

7.9

6.5

5.4

3.7

3.9

5.2

4.6

4.0

4.0

4.4

South West

10.4

7.8

5.6

3.8

3.7

4.0

4.4

4.2

4.2

3.7

3.5

Mid West

8.7

6.8

5.0

4.0

3.5

3.6

4.2

5.0

4.7

3.9

5.8

West

9.8

6.4

5.1

4.8

3.8

4.8

3.9

3.7

3.7

4.2

4.6

Border

13.2

10.3

8.7

6.6

5.4

6.7

6.4

5.2

4.9

5.0

5.3

State

10.4

7.8

5.7

4.3

3.6

4.2

4.4

4.4

4.2

4.3

4.5

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Note: annual data presented refers to the results for the second quarter of each year.

1 The Unemployment Rate is the number of unemployed expressed as a percentage of the total labour force.

Departmental Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

129 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach the budgets of the boards, bodies, authorities, agencies and quangos under the remit of his Department since 1997 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30106/07]

The main bodies under the remit of my Department are the National Statistics Board and the National Economic and Social Development Office which comprises the National Centre for Partnership and Performance, the National Economic and Social Council and the National Economic and Social Forum.

The Law Reform Commission also operates under the aegis of my Department. However, the Office of the Attorney General has responsibility for its budget.

The National Statistics Board was established on a statutory basis in November 1994, under the Statistics Act, 1993. The Board has no paid staff and no budget. Expenses incurred relate to the payment of stipends to five Board members, to the holding of meetings and to the publication of reports. These expenses are met within the budget of the Central Statistics Office.

National Economic & Social Development Office (NESDO) (Est. 2001)

Year

Budget ’000

2001

£35

2002

€628

2003

€641

2004

€1,032

2005

€1,168

2006

€1,923

2007

€1,937

The National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP)

Year

Budget ’000

2001

£330

2002

€932

2003

€847

2004

€1,086

2005

€1,041

2006

€1,450

2007

€2,155*

*2007 amount is the budget allocation; the actual outturn is provided in relation to previous years.

National Economic & Social Council (NESC)

Year

Budget ’000

1997

£371

1998

£302

1999

£365

2000

£370

2001

£451

2002

€773

2003

€697

2004

€749

2005

€790

2006

€952

2007

€1,116

National Economic & Social Forum (NESF)

Year

Budget ’000

1997

£404

1998

£365

1999

£393

2000

£276

2001

£574

2002

€773

2003

€669

2004

€580

2005

€689

2006

€704

2007

€880

Ireland Newfoundland Partnership Board

Year

Budget

2004

€313,000

2005

€321,000

2006

€337,000

2007

€361,000

National Forum on Europe

Year

Budget €’000

2001

No Budget

2002

€2,000

2003

€922

2004

€1,151

2005

€1,300

2006

€1,491

2007

€1,621

Information Society Commission (ISC)

Year

Budget

1997

NIL

1998

£500,000

1999

£550,000

2000

£560,000

2001

£565,000

2002

€717,000

2003

€664,000

2004

€700,000

2005

€716,000*

2006

€1,000**

*The ISC officially completed its term of office at the end of December 2004. A budget was provided for in 2005 to allow for expenditure carried over from 2004 and also costs associated with the production of the final report, which was published in January 2005. There was also an estimate provided for in the event of a possible replacement for the ISC.

**The Budget for 2006 was a contingency budget to allow for a carry over of any expenditure from 2005.

Taskforce on Active Citizenship

Year

Budget

2006

€275,000*

2007

€200,000

*Outturn for 2006.

The All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution was established in 1997. To date, it has been funded by a grant administered by my Department. The Committee is now a Joint Committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Year

Budget

1998

£250,000

1999

£250,000

2000

£255,000

2001

£259,000

2002

€355,000

2003

€331,000

2004

€380,000

2005

€399,000

2006

€407,000

2007

€398,000

The National Millennium Committee was established in 1998 to examine and to make recommendations on projects of national significance to be included in the Government's Millennium Programme. The Committee's work was done by April 2000, following the commitment by the Government of Committee funds to the recommended projects. The total amount allocated to the Committee for the Millennium Programme was €30.09 million — all of which was allocated by April 2000. A small office of four Civil Servants provided the secretariat to the Committee. This Office remained in place until June 2002, when it was abolished, to supervise the drawdown of the allocated funds according to agreed drawdown arrangements.

Declarations of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

130 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30177/07]

None of my Advisers declared a conflict of interest in the past five years. My Department complies fully with the provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 and annually lays my Advisers' statements of interests before the Houses of the Oireachtas and each individual sends their return to the Standards in Public Office Commission, in accordance with that legislation. This year, two such returns were made in accordance with the Ethics legislation, one for the calendar year 2006 and one following the General Election.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

131 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30191/07]

My Department and Agencies under my Department have engaged a total of 19 private consultancy firms from January 2007 to date. The following table includes the names of the consultants, the projects undertaken and the total cost. It should be noted that the cost of a number of the consultancies may not be met by the Department in 2007.

Consultant

Purpose

Amount

Fitzpatrick Associates

To evaluate Customer Charters across the Civil Service

57,838.00

Economic and Social Research Institute

To carry out a survey of business attitudes to and experience of regulation

103,429.00

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Provision of economic assistance with the application of Regulatory Impact Analysis

29,040.00

Isolde Goggin and Gillian Lauder

Review of the Operation of Regulatory Impact Analysis

108,900.00

PA Consulting Services Limited

To provide expert support for the pilot phase of the Organisational Review Programme

43,569.00

RA Consulting

To design and conduct an Employee Opinion Survey for the staff of my Department

18,101.00

QTS Limited

Annual Risk Assessment of my Department

1,694.00

Ipsos Mori

To evaluate the quality of my Department’s customer service delivery by conducting the 2007 annual customer survey

19,904.50

Indecon Economic Consultants

To carry out a review of the Irish Annuities Market

133,100.00

Marie Halpin and Associates

Report/Review on Implementation of Positive Working Environment Policy in the Department of the Taoiseach

1,936.00

Consultants engaged by the Taskforce on Active Citizenship

Economic and Social Research Institute

To conduct a follow-up survey on Social Capital from their 2003 survey in order to ascertain any change in levels of volunteering and civic participation

22,242.00

Caroline Erskine

Media services related to the launch of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship in March 2007

6,050.00

Consultants engaged by the National Centre for Partnership and Performance

IPC Consulting

Hospital of the Future Research Project

21,901.00

Valerie Whelan

Hospital of the Future Research Project

14,509.00

Wilson Hartnel PR

Public Awareness Campaign (National Workplace Strategy)

47,339.00

Achilles Procurement Services

Public Awareness Campaign (National Workplace Strategy)

263.00

Redacteurs Ltd

Step-by-Step Guide to Partnership (Towards 2016)

16,791.00

ASA Consulting

Scoping Paper on Workplace Partnership in the Commercial Sector

4,356.00

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

132 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30205/07]

The following table outlines the number of complaints by members of the public received by my Department, within the context of the Department's Customer Charter in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007.

Year

Number of complaints

2005

3

2006

1

2007 (to date)

3

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

133 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30219/07]

The total expenditure by my Department on advertising and promotional campaigns since 2002 is €390,450.65. A breakdown for each year is included in the following table under the headings Print Media, Internet Media (Website) and PR (including television).

The more significant incidences of this type of expenditure are concerned with publication/ advertising of major state ceremonial events, the work of the Commission of Investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and ongoing notices in Iris Oifigiúil.

Year

Print Media (incl. Iris Oifigiúil)

Internet Media (Website)

PR (including television)

Total

2002

78,260.13

*

3,714.70

81,974.83

2003

44,437.63

*

Nil

44,437.63

2004

40,662.40

*

Nil

40,662.40

2005

54,892.89

*

23,409.68

78,302.57

2006

85,924.37

*

1,583.33

87,507.70

2007

57,565.52

*

Nil

57,565.52

Total:

390,450.65

*There are no extra costs, beyond the general cost of maintaining the websites, for advertising/promotional material published on the Department's websites.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

134 Deputy Damien English asked the Taoiseach if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30233/07]

Expenditure by my Department is kept under review on an ongoing basis to ensure that the Department maximises value for money in carrying out its activities.

National Statistics.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

135 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach the figures on GDP and GNP for the Border Midland Western region and the south and east region for the years 2000 to the most recent available. [30317/07]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

136 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach the reason for the difference between GDP and GNP in the Border Midland Western region and the south and east region for the past number of years for which figures are available. [30318/07]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

137 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach the amount of money that is being repatriated by foreign companies and the impact this has on the gap between GDP and GNP in the Border Midland Western region and the south and east region for the years 2000 to the most recent available. [30319/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 to 137, inclusive, together.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the value added generated in the total economy from the production of goods and services, valued at market prices. Gross National Product (GNP) differs from GDP by the value of "net factor incomes” to or from abroad and is measured only at national level. Factor incomes are incomes from investment (including profits), compensation of employees and current transfers. Factor incomes to and from the country as a whole are reported in the official Balance of Payments. However in common with other countries they are not measured between regions within Ireland nor between regions and the rest of the world and for this reason GNP is not available for the regions in Ireland nor is GNP generally calculated on a regional basis in other countries. In Ireland the outflows of factor incomes exceed inflows and the net position (i.e. outflows minus inflows for the years 2000 to 2006) as published in the latest National Income statistics is as follows:

Net Factor Outflows 2000 to 2006 (€ml)

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Net factor Outflows

15,488

18,975

23,699

21,723

23,215

25,775

25,575

The value of GDP and GNP for the years 2000 to 2006 is given in the following table:

GDP and GNP 2000 to 2006 (€ml)

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

GDP

104,620

116,939

130,215

139,413

148,502

161,498

174,705

GNP

89,132

97,964

106,515

117,691

125,286

135,723

149,130

Outflows of Direct Foreign Investment Income

The category "direct investment income" published in the Balance of Payments covers income accruing to an Irish or foreign direct investor from their ownership (or part ownership) of a direct investment enterprise located abroad (in the case of an Irish investor) or in Ireland (in the case of a foreign investor). Income, in this category, accruing to foreign direct investors from their enterprises in Ireland amounted to €31,448 ml. in 2006 and €32,817 ml. in 2005. Note that these figures exceed the net factor incomes shown in the table above, as there are also significant inflows of other factor incomes into Ireland. "Direct Investment Income" in the balance of payments includes the declared entrepreneurial income of the foreign investors (or the share of it accruing to foreigners) whether remitted abroad or not. This is standard international practice. Data on foreign outflows are not available for the regions within Ireland. Full details of the above data are published in "National income and Expenditure 2006" and in the latest Balance of Payments release which are on the CSO's website.

GDP for NUTS II regions

Strictly speaking it is not appropriate to speak of GDP at the level of regions within a country. A related concept GVA (gross value added) is used instead. GVA (at basic prices) equals GDP minus product taxes plus product subsidies. Because distributing product taxes (e.g. vat, excise duties etc.) between regions can distort the comparisons of the amount of value added that is generated in each region GVA is the standard measure between regions. GVA for NUTS II regions for the years 2000 to 2004 are shown as follows.

GVA (at basic prices) for NUTS II regions 2000-2004 (€ml)

Border, Midland and Western

Southern and Eastern

State Total

2000

17,649

75,296

92,946

2001

19,762

85,353

105,116

2002

21,362

95,679

117,041

2003

23,398

101,374

124,773

2004

25,509

105,916

131,427

The equivalent GVA per capita for these regions for the years 2000 to 2004 is shown as follows.

GVA per capita for NUTS II regions (€)

Border, Midland and Western

Southern and Eastern

2000

17,611

26,917

2001

19,436

30,043

2002

20,576

33,232

2003

22,127

34,700

2004

23,637

35,727

Since GVA is essentially the sum of compensation of employees and profits generated in a region the differences between the absolute levels in the regions arise from population differences and different levels of profits and wages in the regions. The per capita differences reflect different levels of wages and profits per person in the regions.

Full details of these data are available in the release "County Incomes and Regional GDP 2004" on the CSO's website.

It may also be worth noting that the CSO publishes regional figures on household incomes. These figures do not include company profits. The per capita household incomes in the NUTS II regions for the years 2000 to 2004 are provided as follows.

Household income, per capita, in the NUTS II regions 2000/2004 (€)

Border, Midland and Western

Southern and Eastern

2000

15,654

18,296

2001

17,452

20,487

2002

18,903

21,767

2003

20,078

22,670

2004

21,440

23,869

Garda Stations.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

138 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the situation regarding the proposed construction of a new Garda Station (details supplied) in County Cork. [30031/07]

The Commissioners of Public Works have completed the Part 9 Planning consultation process under the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended).

Following completion of the pre-qualification process to select suitable contractors, it is expected that invitations to tender will issue early in the new year.

State Property.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

139 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the circumstances in which an estate (details supplied) in County Cork which became State property on 1 September 1972 on the dissolution of its registered owner was sold to a person on 6 October 1986 for the sum of £160 and was then sold by that person on the 22 December of the same year to another person for £20,000; if he has satisfied himself the State received adequate consideration for the sale of its property; if this transaction was examined as to its propriety; the steps taken by his Department to safeguard the property interests of the State in such transactions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30052/07]

Under Section 28 (2) of the State Property Act 1954, the Minister for Finance assumes responsibility for all personal property and land vested in or held in trust by a body corporate (other than personal property or land held by such body in trust for another person) immediately prior to its dissolution. Upon the dissolution of the body corporate, such property becomes State property. The effect of Section 28 is that the Minister does not hold the assets of dissolved companies as beneficial owner. He holds them in trust. The title which the Minister acquires under this section has been described as a defeasible title since, if the dissolved company is restored to the Register of Companies within twenty years of the date of its dissolution, its property is automatically restored to it.

In regard to the case which is the subject of the current question, I am advised that the transactions referred to have no connection with my Department as the dates on which they are alleged to have occurred all predate 23 December, 1986, the date on which the company which held the title to the estate referred to was dissolved by being struck off the Register of Companies.

The company in question was restored to the Register of Companies in December 2006. This had the effect that such interest in the estate as was held by the company at the date of its dissolution reverted to the company upon its restoration. Consequently, the State has no interest in the property at present.

Public Transport.

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

140 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the reason private bus operators were not made fully aware that the fuel rebate on scheduled services within the State was being withdrawn; and if he will introduce a new grant or scheme to replace it. [30062/07]

The Deputy may recall that I have answered Parliamentary Questions on this issue over the past year, including on 4 July 2007 and in recent weeks. The 2003 EU Energy Tax Directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of Member States. In the Irish context, these derogations allowed for reduced rates to apply to fuel used for public transport services which includes school transport services. While these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland, along with other Member States, sought retention of its derogations beyond that date. However, the European Commission, which is the deciding authority, has to date refused all such requests. The Commission maintains that, in keeping with the EU Energy Tax Directive, Member States must apply at least the EU minimum rates of excise on fuels in such circumstances and that any further favourable excise treatment is not allowable. In this regard the Commission's decision was published on its website in March 2007. At the Commission's behest, my officials have indicated that Ireland will avail of the forthcoming Finance Bill to make the necessary legislative changes to conform with the Directive. In the circumstances, the relevant line Departments which have primary responsibility in this regard are, in conjunction with my Department, exploring alternative non-tax support mechanisms that could be put in place where appropriate to maintain the assistance currently being provided, subject of course to compatibility with EU state aid requirements. In the interim the reduced rates applicable to fuel used will be maintained.

Tax Clearance Certificates.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

141 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance when a tax clearance certificate will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [30063/07]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the tax clearance certificate issued to the individual concerned on 19 November 2007.

Decentralisation Programme.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

142 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works has procured a site for decentralised offices at a location (details supplied) in County Laois; the contractual arrangements entered into for these new offices; the amount of office space required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30123/07]

The site referred to will be situated close to the town centre on a site acquired from the Industrial Development Agency on a 999-year lease. The project is being undertaken pursuant to the Government's Decentralisation Programme and will comprise approximately 20,000 square metres in office and ancillary space. The project will be delivered as part of a major PPP contract that also involves the provision of office accommodation for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in Carlow and the Department of Education and Science in Mullingar. Following evaluation of Expressions of Interest received from developers, five candidates were short-listed and were invited to submit tenders. Tenders were received in September 2007 and are currently being examined. It is anticipated that a successful tenderer will be selected by the end of the year. The successful tenderer will be required to apply for planning permission in respect of the three locations prior to awarding of the contract.

Currency Strength.

Damien English

Ceist:

143 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the purchasing power as at 1 November 2007 of the Irish Punt at November 1997 prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30148/07]

Inflation as measured by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) is the appropriate measure of inflation as it excludes the effects of interest rate changes. Including mortgage interest rate adjustments in the measure of inflation distorts the underlying inflationary trend. Using the HICP, the purchasing power of the Irish Punt declined by 38% between November 1997 and October 2007. Thus £1 in November 1997 would now be worth just over 72p, which is equivalent to 92 cent. If the traditional domestic measure of inflation — the Consumer Price Index — was used, then the purchasing power of the Irish Punt declined by 42.8% over the period. This would mean that £1 in November 1997 would be worth approximately 70p today. This 70p is equivalent to almost 89 cent. The euro replaced the Punt on January 1st 2002. The Punt was converted to euro at a rate of £1 = €1.269738.

Tax Collection.

Damien English

Ceist:

144 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the value of unclaimed tax refunds for each of the years 2004, 2005 and 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30150/07]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide an estimate of the amount of unclaimed tax refunds for the years in question. This is because the Revenue Commissioners can only allow reliefs and credits on the basis of the information that is known to them. Consequently, there is no way to accurately assess underclaimed entitlements where changes in individual circumstances have not been notified by the taxpayers concerned. The Revenue Commissioners are confident that the majority of taxpayers claim the reliefs to which they are entitled. For instance so far in 2007 almost 750,000 repayment claims, dealing with the years 2003 to 2007 inclusive, have been processed. The Revenue Commissioners are constantly reminding taxpayers of their entitlements. Every year, for example, every PAYE taxpayer gets a notice with his or her determination of tax credits outlining the full list of reliefs available. They also get a short leaflet listing the most common credits that are available. Over the last two years, the Revenue Commissioners have undertaken a number of public information campaigns to make people aware of their entitlements and to encourage claims. The response to these campaigns has been encouraging.

In relation to the granting of credits and reliefs, the policy of the Revenue Commissioners is that, once claimed, the majority of them are generally carried forward automatically from year to year by the Revenue computer system, without any need for the taxpayer to lodge a further claim. In addition, many more significant reliefs are granted through the Tax Relief At Source arrangement. For example, mortgage interest relief and medical insurance relief are provided at source through the taxpayer obtaining a reduction in repayments or premiums equivalent to the tax reliefs. Recurring reliefs, like those for trade union subscriptions or bin charges, once claimed, are allowed on an ongoing basis and reappear each year in the taxpayer's certificate of tax credits. Additionally this year the Revenue Commissioners automatically grant age related credits and they will, in 2008, automatically generate refunds of tax in respect of unreimbursed expenditure incurred under the drugs payment scheme. The Revenue Commissioners are being proactive in offering taxpayers every assistance and advice in relation to claiming reliefs and credits and, together with the variety of service channels which the Revenue Commissioners have put in place, they are being given the opportunity to do this in the most efficient and customer friendly way possible.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Damien English

Ceist:

145 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the value of unclaimed assets in savings accounts in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30151/07]

Under the Dormant Accounts Act 2001 and the Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Act 2003, credit institutions and insurance undertakings are required each April to transfer to the National Treasury Management Agency, all moneys falling dormant in the previous year. Each credit institution and insurance undertaking is also required under the legislation to keep a register of their dormant accounts or policies and to notify persons whose accounts or policies are due to fall dormant before transferring the money to the Fund each year. The dormancy period for bank and savings accounts is 15 years. The total value of unclaimed accounts as at 30 September 2007 transferred to the fund since the scheme's inception and which has not yet been reclaimed assets which have become dormant and remain so, is €256.7 million. In addition there is a further €37.2 million in respect of unclaimed life policies and €4.4 million in respect of the Escheated Estate Fund.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

146 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30173/07]

I understand that the Advisers in my Department during the period referred to have complied with the provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

147 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30187/07]

The table that follows this reply sets out details of each consultancy contract paid direct from my Department's Vote which commenced, continued or completed in 2007. It includes the names of the consultancy firms used by my Department, the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector and the Public Service Benchmarking Body in 2007, a description of the project each worked on and the total cost of each project.

Consultant

Project

Cost

Hay Group (Ireland) Ltd.

Public Service Benchmarking Body (PSBB) surveys of public service and private sector companies.

544,500

Mercer Human Resource Consulting

PSBB surveys of public service and private sector companies

363,000

Hay Management Consultants

Review of remuneration of CEOs of Commercial State Bodies.

191,180

Jenny Smyth & Associates

PSBB surveys of public service and private sector companies

176,000

Hay Group (Ireland) Ltd.

Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector. Evaluation of the jobs of senior posts in the Irish public service

143,385

Indecon International Economic Consultants

Review of Section 481 Film Relief

92,111

Horwath Consulting Ireland Ltd.

Value for Money Review of Ordnance Survey Ireland.

59,895

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Review of exemption from taxation of royalties or income derived from patents.

59,532

PWC (Pricewaterhousecoopers)

Risk Evaluation-Accountant’s Branch/PMGs.

49,624

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Study on the potential effects of commencing Section 110 Finance Act 2007.

43,651

Indecon (Ireland)

Update of review of scheme of tax relief for residential units associated with nursing homes.

42,592

Nifast

Hazards and Risks Assessment.

22,750

Canavan and Byrne

Operational audits of Civil Service Crèches.

6,000

Petrus Consulting

External evaluation of Construction Procurement Reform Initiative.

6,000

Safety Solutions

Health & Safety Audit.

2,420

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

148 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30201/07]

The Department has a Complaints Procedure which deals with complaints about the quality of service provided by the Department. Two complaints were received in 2005 and one each in 2006 and to date in 2007 regarding quality of service.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

149 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30215/07]

Since 1 January 2002, the Department has spent €3,188,510 on advertising and promotional campaigns. The following table gives a breakdown of expenditure on electronic media and print media for each of the years in question:

Year

Spend on electronic media inclusive of television, radio and Internet

Spend on printed media

2002

521,905*

1,251,251*

2003

67,189

206,976

2004

338,484

2005

254,232

2006

57,849

375,125

2007 (year to date)

115,499

*The Euro Public Awareness campaign accounted for €1.261 million of the total spend for 2002.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

150 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30229/07]

My Department has undertaken a number of reviews under the Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative. One of the key evaluation criteria for these reviews is efficiency. To date, reviews have been completed of Payments to Promoters of Certain Charities; the Change Management Fund; the Information Society Fund; the grant-in-aid to the Institute of Public Administration; the grant-in-aid to Ordnance Survey Ireland and the grant-in-aid to the Economic and Social Research Institute. Work will shortly be completed on two further reviews, the Civil Service child care initiative and the Construction Procurement Management Reform Programme.

Pension Provisions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

151 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if and when a refund of tax deducted on emergency tax rate on a pension lump sum will be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [30304/07]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a full refund of tax deducted on the taxpayer's pension lump sum will issue in the coming days.

Public Transport.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

152 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the annual figure refunded in each of the past five years for excise duty paid on fuel used in passenger transport services to the public transport services with the names of same and the private transport providers; his intentions in Budget 2008 or by other means, to compensate the passenger transport sectors for the anticipated loss of this refund entitlement following the ending of the derogation from the EU Energy Tax Directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30324/07]

The Deputy may recall that I have answered Parliamentary Questions on this issue over the past year, including on 4 July 2007 and in recent weeks. The 2003 EU Energy Tax Directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of Member States. In the Irish context, these derogations allowed for reduced rates to apply to fuel used for public transport services which includes school transport services. While these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland, along with other Member States, sought retention of its derogations beyond that date. However, the European Commission, which is the deciding authority, has to date refused all such requests. The Commission maintains that, in keeping with the EU Energy Tax Directive, Member States must apply at least the EU minimum rates of excise on fuels in such circumstances and that any further favourable excise treatment is not allowable. In this regard the Commission's decision was published on its website in March 2007. At the Commission's behest my officials have indicated that Ireland will avail of the forthcoming Finance Bill to make the necessary legislative changes to conform with the Directive.

In the circumstances, the relevant line Departments who have primary responsibility in this regard are, in conjunction with my Department, exploring alternative non-tax support mechanisms that could be put in place where appropriate to maintain the assistance currently being provided, subject of course to compatibility with EU State Aid requirements. In the interim the reduced rates applicable to fuel used will be maintained. Details of the tax relief granted to particular taxpayers are confidential between the Revenue Commissioners and those taxpayers. However, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the following table provides the overall repayments made under the Passenger Road Services Scheme for the years 2002 to date:

Year

Repayments

2002

23,899,253

2003

24,385,812

2004

25,389,778

2005

29,196,361

2006

27,382,170

2007 to October

25,576,116

Disabled Drivers.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

153 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will amend the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concession) Regulations 1994 to increase the repayment to applicants in view of the fact that the guidelines have not been increased for several years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30327/07]

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and Vehicle Registration Tax (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, as well as relief from excise on the fuel used in the car, up to a certain limit. The disability criteria for these concessions are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled within the terms of the Regulations. As the Deputy will be aware, there was an interdepartmental review of the Scheme. However, given the scale and the scope of the scheme, any possible changes can only be made after careful consideration and with regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme and the available resources.

Tax Code.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

154 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if it is the case that the one parent family tax credit may be claimed by individuals who mind their children for only a handful of occasions in a year or not at all, pay no maintenance, and bear little or no cost of rearing the children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30328/07]

The one-parent family tax credit is a credit that can be claimed by a single parent (whether widowed, single, deserted, separated or divorced) who has a dependent child resident with him/her for the whole or part of the relevant tax year. The Revenue Commissioners deem this requirement to be met if the child is so resident for at least one night during the year. The payment or non-payment of maintenance, as the case may be, by such a single parent is not a determining factor in entitlement to the one-parent family tax credit in respect of children of a claimant.

Pension Provisions.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

155 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his estimate of the cost of meeting future pensions and other commitments from the Social Insurance Fund up to 2055 under the assumptions used in the recent review of the Social Insurance Fund and assuming income from the National Pension Reserve Fund; and the estimated average percentage increase in income tax if all of these costs were to be paid by tax payers. [30330/07]

The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 requires the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to arrange for an actuarial review of the financial condition of the Social Insurance Fund to be conducted every five years. The most recent actuarial review, which covers the period from 2005 to 2061, was published on 17 October 2007. One of the Review's principal findings was that, based on a central scenario with stated assumptions about demographic, economic and benefit developments over the period (the last assuming that future benefits would increase in line with future earnings), PRSI rates would have to increase over their present levels if income and expenditure on the Fund are to be balanced over the long term to 2061. However, the Review estimated that if no change were made to PRSI contribution rates over that period, Social Insurance Fund expenditure would exceed Social Insurance Fund income by €35.3 billion in real terms in 2061, assuming benefits were increased in line with projected earnings growth. Alternatively, the Review indicated that if future benefits were increased at the rate of projected price inflation over the same period, the Fund would remain in surplus for much of the period and expenditure would exceed the Fund's income by the much smaller amount of €1.5 billion in 2061.

In a situation where future benefits are increased at the level of earnings growth and assuming no other change, the Exchequer, as residual financer of the Social Insurance Fund, would have to cover that shortfall. While the proceeds of the National Pensions Reserve Fund, which was established for the purpose of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of Social Welfare pensions and Public Service pensions from 2025 until at least 2055, will be available to meet some of these Social Insurance Fund subvention costs over some or all of this period, the Actuarial Review did not make any assumption about the scale of funds that could be made available to the Social Insurance Fund from the National Pensions Reserve Fund for that purpose, nor did it make an estimate of the scale of increases in the levels of income taxation, or indeed any other taxation head, that would be necessary to meet a shortfall in the Social Insurance Fund over the longer term, assuming no change to the existing PRSI regime or otherwise. It should also be noted that the projected shortfall on the Social Insurance Fund (based on stated assumptions) that would have to be covered by the Exchequer out to 2061 is only one of the many long-term social welfare and other demands that would have to be financed by the Exchequer and that income taxation is only one of the range of income sources that would be available to the Exchequer to meet these demands.

Ministerial Appointments.

Damien English

Ceist:

156 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimate she has made of the cost of paying salaries and pension contributions for additional Ministers of State appointed by her in 2007; the cost of same for staff assigned to each additional Minister for State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30160/07]

Prior to the formation of the current Government in June of this year there were three Ministers of State attached to my Department — the former Minister of State with responsibility for children, Deputy Brian Lenihan; the former Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Disability Services, Deputy Tim O'Malley; and the former Minister of State with responsibility for Services for Older People, Health Promotion and Food Safety, Deputy Seán Power. Following the formation of the current Government the Taoiseach appointed four Ministers of State to this Department — the Minister of State with responsibility for children, Deputy Brendan Smith; the Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety, Deputy Pat Gallagher; the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability Issues and Mental Health, excluding discrimination, Deputy Jimmy Devins; and the Minister of State with responsibility for Older People, Deputy Máire Hoctor. These appointments reflect the commitment of this Government to the priority it is giving to these key areas of health policy. As the areas of responsibility of the three previous Ministers of State have been re-allocated it is not possible to identify one specific additional appointment. However, for the Deputy's information I am providing in the tables which follow this reply details of the number of civil servants and other staff in the private and constituency offices of each Minister of State assigned to my Department.

Minister of State, Deputy Brendan Smith TD

Annual Salary — €51,921

Allowance — €19,058

Private Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Special Adviser

Other

95,363

Private Secretary

Civil Servant

70,724

Executive Officer

Civil Servant

44,697

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

29,722

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

35,727

Clerical Officer (0.6 post)

Civil Servant

21,928

Clerical Officer (0.5 post)

Civil Servant

14,861

Constituency Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Personal Assistant

Other

45,121

Personal Secretary

Other

38,529

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

35,773

Clerical Officer (0.6 post)

Civil Servant

17,833

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

35,773

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

29,722

Minister of State, Deputy Máire Hoctor TD

Annual Salary — €51,921

Private Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Private Secretary

Civil Servant

64,387

Executive Officer

Civil Servant

41,170

Staff Officer (0.5 post)

Civil Servant

22,204

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

35,727

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

30,806

Civilian Driver

Other

33,148

Civilian Driver

Other

33,148

Constituency Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Personal Assistant

Other

46,406

Personal Secretary

Other

40,734

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

35,727

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

35,196

Minister of State, Deputy Jimmy Devins TD

Annual Salary — €51,921

Private Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Special Adviser

Other

82,016

Private Secretary

Civil Servant

69,954

Executive Officer

Civil Servant

42,766

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

28,640

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

28,640

Civilian Driver

Other

33,148

Civilian Driver

Other

33,148

Constituency Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Personal Assistant

Other

46,406

Personal Secretary (0.46 post)

Other

12,516

Personal Secretary (0.54 post)

Other

14,692

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

32,974

Minister of State, Deputy Pat Gallagher

Annual Salary — €51,921

Private Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Private Secretary

Civil Servant

58,631

Executive Officer

Civil Servant

45,499

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

27,555

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

28,640

Civilian Driver

Other

33,148

Civilian Driver

Other

33,148

Constituency Office

Grade

Civil Servant/Other

Annual Salary

Personal Assistant

Other

52,379

Personal Secretary

Other

42,571

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

36,546

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

32,974

Clerical Officer

Civil Servant

29,267

The annual salary costs identified in the table do not include Employers' PRSI or an additional pension payment of 11% paid in respect of a personal pension for a special adviser to the Minister of State, Deputy Smith. The annual salary costs quoted in respect of each Minister of State are exclusive of their TD's salary which is paid by the Oireachtas.

Suicide Incidence.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

157 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress on the implementation of the 33 recommendations of the Joint Committee report on High Levels of Suicide in Ireland published in July 2006 and debated in Dáil Éireann on 26 October 2006. [30308/07]

I assure the Deputy that the Government is fully committed to the implementation of suicide prevention initiatives and the further development of services to prevent and reduce further tragic loss of life. In September 2005, "Reach Out" — a National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention, 2005-2014 was launched. The strategy provides a policy framework for suicide prevention activities in Ireland until 2014. The strategy calls for a multi-sectoral approach to the prevention of suicidal behaviour in order to foster cooperation between health, education, community, voluntary and private sector agencies. The National Office for Suicide Prevention oversees the implementation of the strategy and has taken on board the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Health and Children on the high levels of suicide in Irish society, which are consistent with the actions identified in "Reach Out". Additional funding of €1.2 million and €1.85 million was provided in 2006 and 2007 respectively for the implementation of the Strategy which brings the overall funding available to support suicide prevention initiatives in 2007 to €8 million. This funding is being used to develop and implement national training programmes, develop mental health awareness campaigns, complete the availability of self-harm services through accident and emergency departments, implement recommendations arising from a review of bereavement services and support voluntary organisations working in the field of suicide prevention.

Domestic Violence.

Damien English

Ceist:

158 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the most comprehensive piece of research on domestic violence here, carried out by the National Crime Council and the ERSI, found that 26% of men and 29% of women suffered domestic violence and that funding for supports for male victims amounts to less than 1% of that provided for female victims; if she will take steps to redress same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30021/07]

State supports for victims of domestic violence are provided primarily through the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Garda Síochána, the Courts Service, local authorities and a number of NGOs and voluntary groups. The funding, management and delivery of health and personal social services are the responsibility of the HSE under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

159 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will make a contribution from its staff training budget to an employee (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [30028/07]

Under Section 22 of the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive, with the approval of the Minister for Health and Children given with the consent of the Minister for Finance, determines the terms and conditions of its employees. In that regard, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Mental Health Services.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

160 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in relation to a submission (details supplied); the action she is taking to address such concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30040/07]

The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, A Vision for Change, acknowledges gaps in the current provision for forensic mental health services and recognises that such services should be available in all areas where law enforcement agents are likely to encounter individuals with severe mental health problems. The Report makes several recommendations for the further improvement of these services including the provision of four additional multi-disciplinary community based forensic mental health teams. The Government has accepted the Report as the basis for the future development of our mental health services. Implementation of the individual recommendations of A Vision for Change is a matter primarily for the HSE. In July 2006, the HSE established an implementation group to ensure that mental health services develop in a synchronised and consistent manner across the country. The HSE intends to publish an implementation plan shortly which is to include a timed and prioritised set of short, medium and longer term goals. The Forensic Mental Health Service functions mainly as an in-reach service to prisons, providing clinics and consultations on request, and where necessary, advising on the transfer of persons to the Central Mental Hospital. Staffing in the Forensic Mental Health Service has been increased to seven consultant psychiatrists and six fully staffed, multi-disciplinary teams. This has enabled the HSE to further strengthen forensic mental health services in 2007, with the assignment of one consultant psychiatrist and appropriate staff, on a full-time basis, to the remand prisons.

Child Care Services.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

161 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in relation to a submission (details supplied); if the group as determined by their figures lose revenue and thus numbers in relation to the overall project because of the proposed changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30042/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children. Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. Funding under this scheme was originally awarded for a limited period during which services were expected to move towards sustainability. This funding was subsequently continued to the end of 2007, where it was considered necessary to enable services to continue to make their services accessible to disadvantaged parents. This continuation funding was subject to the condition that tiered fee structures were implemented by the services in question.

With the closure of the EOCP in December 2007, to continue to support community childcare services to provide affordable child care to disadvantaged parents, the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is being introduced from January 2008 under the Exchequer funded National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP. The CCSS has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years, representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme, and will continue to support community child care services to provide reduced childcare fees for disadvantaged parents, complementing the universal supports in place for all parents. Under the new scheme, it will be possible to ensure that the level of grant aid which individual services qualify for will reflect the actual level of service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. As part of their application for funding under the new scheme, services are required to ask parents using their services to complete a simple declaration form which will be included in a return to my Office and on which basis the level of subvention for each service will be determined. The subvention received by services will, in turn, be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

In practice, this will mean that parents with children in such services and in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) or parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement, will see a weekly subvention in respect of their child. A higher subvention will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under one year. Parents who do not qualify for subvention will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by and takes account of a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported and the ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme. The new scheme has clear advantages over its predecessor. There is an increase in the level of funding available under it, and a majority of services will benefit from the changes it introduces. Existing EOCP staffing grant recipients who enter the new scheme will continue to be funded at their current levels until July 2008. My Office has engaged in a series of meetings with existing grant recipients to outline to them the details of the new scheme and to gather feedback from the services themselves. A meeting with representatives of the City and County Childcare Committees has also taken place.

Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data received this month. Where appropriate, any adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for child care services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the Group in question has been approved for transitional funding under the NCIP Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS), and a letter of approval has issued this week from the Child care Directorate of my Office. This funding will, for the first six months of 2008, be based on the level of funding currently being provided to the Group under the EOCP staffing support grant scheme and subject to the necessary contractual arrangement with Pobal, which manages the day-to-day operation of the EOCP and NCIP.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

162 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in relation to a submission (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30044/07]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children. Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. Funding under this scheme was originally awarded for a limited period during which services were expected to move towards sustainability. This funding was subsequently continued to the end of 2007, where it was considered necessary to enable services to continue to make their services accessible to disadvantaged parents. This continuation funding was subject to the condition that tiered fee structures were implemented by the services in question.

With the closure of the EOCP in December 2007, to continue to support community child care services to provide affordable child care to disadvantaged parents, the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is being introduced from January 2008 under the Exchequer funded National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP. The CCSS has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years, representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme, and will continue to support community child care services to provide reduced child care fees for disadvantaged parents, complementing the universal supports in place for all parents. Under the new scheme, it will be possible to ensure that the level of grant aid which individual services qualify for will reflect the actual level of service they provide and the profile of the parents benefiting from their service. As part of their application for funding under the new scheme, services are required to ask parents using their services to complete a simple declaration form which will be included in a return to my Office and on which basis the level of subvention for each service will be determined. The subvention received by services will, in turn, be reflected in the reduced fees for parents who qualify as disadvantaged under the scheme.

In practice, this will mean that parents with children in such services and in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) or parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement, will see a weekly subvention in respect of their child. A higher subvention will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under one year. Parents who do not qualify for subvention will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. The scheme has been informed by and takes account of a number of enhancements recommended by the report of the Value for Money Review of the EOCP. These include the fact that the subvention to services will be more responsive to the level of service provided as well as the degree of parental disadvantage supported and the ceiling for funding, which existed under the previous scheme, is being removed. Account will also be taken of all of the operational costs of the service rather than staffing costs alone. Services, including full-time, part-time and sessional ones, which at present are, in some cases, inaccessibly priced for disadvantaged parents, will be available to them at more appropriate rates under the new scheme. The new scheme has clear advantages over its predecessor. There is an increase in the level of funding available under it, and a majority of services will benefit from the changes it introduces. Existing EOCP staffing grant recipients who enter the new scheme will continue to be funded at their current levels until July 2008. My Office has engaged in a series of meetings with existing grant recipients to outline to them the details of the new scheme and to gather feedback from the services themselves. A meeting with representatives of the City and County Childcare Committees has also taken place.

Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing child care services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data received this month. Where appropriate, any adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for child care services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008.

Hospital Facilities.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

163 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Question No. 204 of 6 November 2007, if there are designated smoking facilities available to patients in hospitals; the recommended specification for same; and the steps she has taken to ensure that patients and smokers are not forced to stand outside in the cold and rain. [30054/07]

As stated in my reply to Question No. 204 of 6 November 2007, most enclosed places of work — including hospitals (other than psychiatric hospitals) — became smoke-free on 29 March 2004. The primary purpose of the measure is to protect the health of employees and the public (including patients, in the case of hospitals) from exposure to toxic environmental tobacco smoke. The legislation does not provide for designated smoking facilities and there are no plans to permit smoking in hospitals.

Nursing Home Subventions.

John Deasy

Ceist:

164 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason payment under the national repayment scheme has not issued to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford who has completed the procedure for repayment; and when payment will issue. [30055/07]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

165 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation with regard to funding for non-core hour activities for members of a club (details supplied) in Dublin 17; when funding will be re-instated for non-core hour activities; and if funding is in place and agreed for 2008. [30056/07]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Vaccination Programme.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

166 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if assistance will be given to persons trying to get their child vaccinated but who will have to wait until 2008. [30057/07]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

210 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an issue (details supplied). [30321/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 166 and 210 together.

I understand from the Health Service Executive (HSE), that owing to regulatory difficulties being experienced by the manufacturer of the BCG vaccine, there may be a shortage of the vaccine throughout the country during the coming weeks. This is a Europe-wide problem as the manufacturer in question is the only company which supplies the vaccine to the European Market. I have been informed that the HSE is in regular contact with the supplier, and is doing all it can do to ensure delivery of the vaccine at the earliest possible juncture. Unfortunately, it is not possible to stockpile the vaccine in advance as it has a very short shelf life. It is anticipated that the HSE will receive fresh stocks of the vaccine in early January.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

167 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if a centre (details supplied) in County Mayo will be assisted. [30058/07]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

168 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin following her statement that the new Children’s hospital is to be located at a site at the Mater Hospital; if she has satisfied herself that the proposed site is the most appropriate in view of the concerns expressed by many interested parties that the site and location are unsuitable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30074/07]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

188 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in regard to the proposed location of the Children’s Hospital; the extent to which the proposals have been tested under the various headings applicable under such circumstances; if contracts have been signed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30284/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 188 together.

I have no plans to review the decision to locate the new National Paediatric Hospital on a site to be made available at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. On 31 October last, the Health Service Executive announced the details of the High Level Framework Brief for the new hospital. The Brief was prepared by Rawlinson, Kelly and Whittlestone Limited, an established UK-based health care planning company. The content of the report was also informed by the views of a range of international experts, including architectural, clinical and nursing experts. The Brief sets out the recommended model of care, the core services to be delivered at the new hospital, and the additional range of services to be provided outside of the main hospital through an Ambulatory/Urgent Care Service. It will help to inform the work of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board in planning, designing, building and equipping the new hospital. The Brief includes a detailed assessment of the capacity of the Mater Hospital site to accommodate the space requirements of the new hospital, and a maternity hospital, to meet expected demand up to 2021. The analysis indicates that all the requirements can be accommodated on the site, and still allow expansion capacity beyond 2021. The analysis found that the site offers a development area of 140,000 square metres. The overall space requirement for core services at the new hospital is 90,000 square metres. When ancillary services including Education, Training, Research, Medical Genetics and Parents Accommodation are included, the total requirement is 103,600 square metres. There is also sufficient space to comfortably accommodate a new maternity hospital on-site.

The total projected bed requirement for the hospital to 2021 ranges from 352 to 454 beds. The estimated space requirements for the hospital have been calculated based on the upper range of bed numbers. The Brief includes provision for all in-patients to be accommodated in single en-suite rooms, allows for the provision of on-site accommodation for parents and families, and allows for education, training and research facilities to be developed on-site. The Hospital will be at the centre of a national paediatric network, linked to regional and local hospitals, and to primary and community care services, through outreach, telemedicine, joint appointments and staff rotation. A network of Ambulatory and Urgent Care Centres (A/UCCs) will be established, to be operated by the new hospital. The first of these will be developed at Tallaght. The development of the National Paediatric Hospital will involve the transfer of services from the three existing children's hospitals in Dublin. My Department is advised that the site occupied by Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin is held in trust by the Board of the hospital.

Child Care Services.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

169 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the necessary funding and resources are put in place for a child care facility (details supplied) in Dublin 10; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30075/07]

I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children. The Group in question has been approved €1.16 million in capital grant assistance under the EOCP to date. A request for payment of the last instalment of €45,402 has been submitted by the Group. I understand from my inquiries that Pobal, which administers the day-to-day operation of the scheme, is awaiting outstanding information from the Group before payment can be made. The Group has requested additional capital funding under the EOCP. In September 2007 the Programme Appraisal Committee, having considered all the information available, agreed with the recommendation of Pobal that the level of funding approved to date per child care place had already exceeded the benchmark under the Programme of €24,000 per place. The Group was notified of this outcome. It was also approved a staffing grant of €74,750 in December 2006 of which the first instalment of €25,400 has been made. A similar amount should be received by the group some time next week. I understand that Pobal does not at this stage believe it is likely that all the funding approved will be spent and reported by the closure deadline of the EOCP, which is the end of December 2007. Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing EOCP staffing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1 July 2008, provided they enter the new Community Childcare Subvention Scheme by submitting the data required as part of the application process of the new scheme.

Medical Cards.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

170 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason an appeal for a medical card by a person (details supplied) in County Louth is not being dealt with by the appeals office, Health Service Executive, north east; if this person’s medical card will be granted in view of the fact that the person has a serious lung illness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30116/07]

Medical cards are made available to people and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner services. In 2005, the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP. Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, childcare and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the income guidelines for GP visit cards. They are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards. As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for these benefits, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

171 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount spent by her Department, its agencies and the Health Service Executive on organising conferences that were subsequently cancelled for each of the years 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30146/07]

I am having inquiries made to obtain the information sought, as it relates to my Department and agencies under my Department's remit. I will forward this information to the Deputy as soon as it is available. With regard to conferences organised by the Health Service Executive, I have referred the question to the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive for its attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Damien English

Ceist:

172 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the individuals or organisations that made a submission to the Health Service Executive regarding the location of the proposed regional general hospital for the north east region. [30154/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Damien English

Ceist:

173 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical staff and administrative staff that are employed by the Health Service Executive with a regional breakdown of these figures in tabular readable form. [30155/07]

Subject to overall parameters set by the Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

174 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if any of her Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30174/07]

For the years 2002 to 2006, inclusive, none of the Special Advisers, attached to either myself or the Ministers of State at my Department, declared a conflict of interest. The most recent information held by my Department relates to the year ended 31 December, 2006. Special Advisers are required under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 to declare any conflict of interest by end of January each year in respect of the previous year ending 31 December.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

175 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the private consultancy firms her Department and the agencies which report to her Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to her Department or agency of each engagement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30188/07]

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to respond directly to the Deputy. The information regarding this Department and other agencies is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

176 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of complaints received by her Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30202/07]

I assume the Deputy's question refers to complaints about the service provided by my Department. The number of written complaints received in the Customer Services Unit in my Department from members of the public in the context of the customer charter was ten in 2005; zero in 2006; and one to date in 2007.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

177 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount her Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30216/07]

The information, involving many units of my Department, is not readily available. I have requested my Department to compile the relevant data and it will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

178 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30230/07]

The Secretary General of my Department chairs a High Level Value for Money Group which consists of representatives from the HSE, HIQA and the Department of Finance. The role of this group is to oversee and promote initiatives in the area of value for money/cost effectiveness in the health services. Whilst there are many ongoing internal Departmental reviews which impinge on Value for Money, the most recent major dedicated VFM reviews of the health service undertaken involving my Department are the following:

Allocation and Utilisation of funding in certain Acute Hospitals (Southern Hospitals Group)

This Review is being conducted in the Southern Hospitals Group (Cork, Kerry) and is due for completion by the end of December, 2007

Review of the efficiency and effectiveness of Long Stay Residential Care for Adults in Mental Health Services

This Review is due for completion by the end of December, 2008. A project team has been appointed to undertake the review.

Review of the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme

This Review was due for completion by December 2007 but was completed early and the review report was approved by the Secretary General on 7 June, 2007. The Office of the Minister for Children is tasked with implementing the recommendations of the report.

These three reviews are under the aegis of the Department of Finance Value for Money Policy Review initiative.

There is a Department of Health and Children Management Advisory Sub-Committee on Internal Financial Controls and VFM. The purpose of this Sub-Committee is to review the operation of the Department's internal control environment and to make recommendations where improvements or remedial actions are considered necessary on an ongoing basis. The Sub-Committee will also review those reports in the series ‘Improving Performance' Public Service Case Studies, undertaken by the Comptroller and Auditor General, which concern the health sector. The Sub-Committee will evaluate the CAG recommendations as regards any implications either for the Department itself or for the wider health service. There have also been a number of internal efficiency reviews undertaken within the Department itself in relation to the Department's own internal administrative procedures and processes.

Medical Cards.

Michael D'Arcy

Ceist:

179 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical cards issued in each year since 2000 to date in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30253/07]

Michael D'Arcy

Ceist:

180 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage of the population issued with medical cards since 1997 to date in 2007 in view of her Department’s agreement with the IMO; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30254/07]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 179 and 180 together.

Details of the number of medical card and GP visit card holders are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive. The figures are provided on a net basis showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of an applicant's circumstances. The following table shows the number of persons and percentage of the population who were medical card holders at the end of each year from 1997 to 2006, and at 31st October 2007.

Year

No. of Medical Cards

Percentage of Population

%

1997 (as at 31st Dec. 1997)

1,219,852

33.64

1998 (as at 31st Dec. 1998)

1,183,554

31.95

1999 (as at 31st Dec. 1999)

1,164,187

31.42

2000 (as at 31st Dec. 2000)

1,148,055

30.32

2001 (as at 31st Dec. 2001)

1,199,454

31.24

2002 (as at 31st Dec. 2002)

1,164,453

29.73

2003 (as at 31st Dec. 2003)

1,152,908

29.43

2004 (as at 31st Dec. 2004)

1,145,083

29.23

2005 (as at 12th Jan. 2006)

1,155,727

29.50

2006 (as at 31st Dec. 2006)

1,221,695

28.85

2007 (as at 31st Oct. 2007)

1,270,873

29.97

The HSE (and before 2005 the health boards) have undertaken a substantial programme of work in recent years to improve data quality in the GMS client database. For example, in 2003 and 2004, work carried out by the health boards led to a deletion of approximately 104,000 inappropriate entries where, for example, there were duplicate entries for the same person, the expiry date on the card had passed, the person had moved away or was deceased. This exercise did not involve any reduction in the actual number of people who held medical cards but rather resulted in a more accurate picture of the number of individuals in receipt of GP services under the GMS Scheme.

In addition to the availability of medical cards, in 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP. At 31st October 2007, 74,761 people held a GP visit card. Therefore, 31.74% of the national population currently have free access to GP services through either the medical card or GP visit card.

Question No. 181 answered with QuestionNo. 89.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

182 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when an appointment will be made to see an ears, nose and throat specialist in Waterford Regional Hospital for a child (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30267/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Community Care.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

183 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine a situation (details supplied). [30279/07]

The Primary Care Strategy aims to increase health service capacity through the development of services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others. It has been estimated that up to 95% of people's health and social services needs can be properly met within a primary care setting and the establishment of new Primary Care Teams can contribute greatly to enhancing community based health services. The provision of the appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of primary care services is being considered by the HSE, having regard to a number of factors. These include the type and configuration of the services involved, the mixed public/private nature of our health system, the suitability of existing infrastructure and the capital requirements of the health services generally over the coming years. As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for Primary Care services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Care of the Elderly.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

184 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to approve extra home help hours in order to relieve congestion in hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30280/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Accident and Emergency Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

185 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which extra facilities have been provided at accident and emergency facilities in all hospitals here; if this is expected to be adequate throughout the winter 2007 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30281/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

186 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review her proposals for the closure of St. Luke’s Hospital having particular regard to its acceptability in terms of treatment and location on the part of patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30282/07]

The decision to transfer St. Luke's Hospital was taken by the Government in the context of its consideration of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology Services. The decision is designed to ensure that radiation oncology, one element of cancer care, is integrated with all other aspects of care, including surgery and medical oncology. This is in line with best international practice. I am convinced that this model will provide better patient centred treatment with improved quality of service and outcome for patients. The Board of St. Luke's Hospital and its Executive Management Team are fully committed to supporting the Government's decision in this regard. A transfer on similar lines took place last year in Northern Ireland when radiation oncology services transferred to Belfast City Hospital, a major academic teaching hospital. In progressing the transfer, I will build on the expertise and ethos of St. Luke's. I have ensured that experts at St. Luke's are centrally involved in the planning and delivery of the National Plan.

The transfer of services from St. Luke's Hospital to new facilities at St. James's Hospital is not due to take place for a number of years. In the meantime, two additional linear accelerators will be commissioned at St. Luke's in early 2008 and two replacement linear accelerators will be commissioned later in 2008. These will provide much needed interim capacity pending the roll out of the National Plan.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

187 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if St. Luke’s Hospital is expected to be affected by co-location proposals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30283/07]

I take it that the Deputy's question refers to St Luke's Hospital Rathgar. The co-location initiative is designed to ensure that private beds in certain public hospitals are freed up for the use of public patients by having co-located private hospitals built on public hospital sites. St Luke's Hospital Rathgar is not amongst the public hospitals participating in the co-location initiative.

Question No. 188 answered with QuestionNo. 168.

Hospital Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

189 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which all the facilities currently available at Naas General Hospital, County Kildare are being utilised on a daily or weekly basis; her plans in this regard in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30285/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

190 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in regard to the final phase of the Naas Hospital development programme; the expected full range of facilities and bed complement when completed; the expected completion date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30286/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Community Care.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the improvement, upgrading, refurbishment or extension of existing health centres and the provision of new such facilities throughout County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30287/07]

The Primary Care Strategy aims to increase health service capacity through the development of services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others. It has been estimated that up to 95% of people's health and social services needs can be properly met within a primary care setting and the establishment of new Primary Care Teams can contribute greatly to enhancing community based health services. The provision of the appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of primary care services is being considered by the HSE, having regard to a number of factors. These include the type and configuration of the services involved, the mixed public/private nature of our health system, the suitability of existing infrastructure and the capital requirements of the health services generally over the coming years. As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for Primary Care services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 193 and 194 answered with Question No. 72.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

195 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when assistance can or will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30291/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Care Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if child care subvention costs will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30292/07]

The main supports the Government makes available to parents to assist them with their childcare costs are Child Benefit and the Early Childcare Supplement. The latter payment, which is in recognition of the higher childcare costs of pre-school children, is the responsibility of my Office, and it alone amounts to expenditure of over €400m in a full year. These payments are universal and benefit all parents, regardless of their income, labour market status or the type of childcare they choose and regardless of whether they live in urban or rural areas. In addition to these universal supports, Government childcare policy has also recognised the need to target additional supports towards disadvantaged families.

Under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP), which is co-funded under the EU Social Fund (ESF), targeted support was provided through the staffing support grant scheme whereby community based not-for-profit childcare providers with a strong focus on disadvantage were awarded grant aid towards their staffing costs to allow them to operate reduced fees to disadvantaged parents. With the closure of the EOCP in December 2007, to continue to support community childcare services to provide affordable childcare to disadvantaged parents, the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is being introduced from January 2008 under the Exchequer funded National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), the successor programme to the EOCP. The CCSS has been allocated €153 million over the next 3 years, representing a 16% increase in funding over the EOCP staffing scheme, and will continue to support community childcare services to provide reduced childcare fees for disadvantaged parents. Community childcare services will receive subventions to enable them to provide reduced childcare fees to parents who are in receipt of social security and social assistance payments or parents who are engaged in education, training or work experience programmes where an underlying entitlement to such a payment is established. Parents in receipt of most social welfare payments (or participating in a scheme such as Community Employment which demonstrates an underlying entitlement to same) will see a €80 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions in respect of shorter hour services). Parents in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS), will see a €30 weekly subvention in respect of full daycare (with pro-rata reductions). A further subvention of €30 per week will be paid where the subvented child is a baby, in recognition of the higher costs associated with the care of children aged under 1 year. Parents who do not qualify under either of these categories will be charged the cost price for their childcare service, however, as community not-for-profit services will, generally, have availed of capital grant aid under the EOCP or NCIP removing the requirement to cover rent or a mortgage, and as the services are run on a not-for-profit basis, this should still be significantly below the market price.

It is considered that the new scheme will provide an effective framework for the continued targeting of additional resources towards disadvantaged parents and their children while continuing to support community childcare services generally. Transitional arrangements have been made under which existing grant recipients will continue to be funded at their current levels until 1st July 2008. This is to ensure that existing childcare services are facilitated to adjust to the new scheme, including making any adjustments necessary to their fee structures. As signalled when I announced the new scheme in July this year, the transitional period between now and 1 July 2008 will also be used to monitor and review the impact it will have on individual groups, on the basis of the more detailed and comprehensive data which is due to be received from applicants in November. If appropriate, any adjustments necessary to the scheme to secure the best outcomes for childcare services and for disadvantaged parents and their children will be considered on the basis of this data and well in advance of the commencement of the new funding levels in July 2008. While it is not possible to comment on the specific impact of the new Scheme in the case of an individual parent, a parent in receipt of a Back to Education Allowance and using a community childcare service, would be expected to benefit from a reduction in childcare costs based on the full rate of subvention available to the service under the Scheme.

Question No. 197 answered with QuestionNo. 72.

Infectious Diseases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

198 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of reported incidents of tuberculosis in each of the past five years; the locations where such cases are currently receiving treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30294/07]

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) monitors rates of TB in Ireland on an on-going basis and identifies any increases in rates or clusters of the disease. According to data provided by the HPSC TB notifications in Ireland between 2002 and 2006 were as shown in the following table.

Year

Number of cases

Crude Rate per 100,000 population

2002

408

10.4

2003

407

10.4

2004*

432

10.2

2005

450

10.6

2006 (provisional)

458

10.8

* rate updated with Census 2006 denominator.

The rates between 2000 and 2006 are lower than the crude incidence rates reported between 1991 and 1999, which ranged from 11.5/100,000 to 18.5/100,000. TB can be treated in all the major hospitals where there is a Consultant Respiratory Physician or a Consultant in Infectious Diseases, who are available in most hospitals nationally.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which the recommendation from the Pollock Report has been implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30295/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Community Care.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children her proposals to upgrade and increase the scale of services available to local health centres with a view to improving primary care backup; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30296/07]

The Primary Care Strategy aims to increase health service capacity through the development of services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others.

It has been estimated that up to 95% of people's health and social services needs can be properly met within a primary care setting and the establishment of new Primary Care Teams can contribute greatly to enhancing community based health services.

The provision of the appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of primary care services is being considered by the HSE, having regard to a number of factors. These include the type and configuration of the services involved, the mixed public/private nature of our health system, the suitability of existing infrastructure and the capital requirements of the health services generally over the coming years.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for Primary Care services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

201 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who received orthodontic treatment in each of the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30297/07]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Services Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 202 answered with QuestionNo. 116.
Question No. 203 answered with QuestionNo. 123.
Question No. 204 answered with QuestionNo. 57.

Patient Statistics.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

205 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the average number of children identified as being affected by autism or Asperger’s syndrome on an annual basis within each EU country in the past five years; if some particular countries have higher levels; the identifiable reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30301/07]

The Department of Health and Children does not collect the statistics referred to by the Deputy either on a national or European Basis. The Deputy's question on the issue of research into the incidence of autism and Asperger's syndrome has been addressed in my reply to question no. 224 on 17th October 2007.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

206 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which research has been undertaken or is pending in the matter of the high incidence of autism and Asperger’s syndrome; if a particular pattern has been identified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30302/07]

The Department of Health and Children does not collect the statistics referred to by the Deputy either on a national or European Basis. The Deputy's question on the issue of research into the incidence of autism and Asperger's syndrome has been addressed in my reply to question no. 224 on 17th October 2007.

Nursing Home Inspections.

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

207 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which the inspection of nursing homes has been affected by the Health Service Executive budget freeze; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30309/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. The Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

208 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nursing home inspections that have been carried out to date in 2007; the number carried out in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30310/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. During 2006 the HSE completed 870 inspections in the 437 registered private nursing homes in operation across the country. The Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to supply the information requested for 2007 directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

209 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a facility (details supplied) in County Galway. [30320/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 210 answered with QuestionNo. 166.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

211 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [30322/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

212 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position on a medical card application for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30332/07]

Medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In 2005 the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who do not qualify for a medical card would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

Since the beginning of 2005 substantial changes have been made to the way in which people's eligibility for a medical card is assessed and these apply equally to the assessment process for a GP visit card. The income guidelines have been increased by a cumulative 29% and in addition allowance is now made for reasonable expenses incurred in respect of mortgage/rent, childcare and travel to work costs. In June 2006 I agreed a further adjustment to the income guidelines for GP visit cards. These are now 50% higher than those in respect of medical cards.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for these benefits, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

213 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the options available to allow a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to attend a hospital for a series of appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30333/07]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

214 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport the budgets of the boards, bodies, authorities, agencies and quangos under the remit of his Department since 1997 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30107/07]

The information sought by the Deputy was provided to the House on 17 October 2007 in reply to PQ No. 261. The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tables.

Name

Establishment Date

1997-2007

No. of Members

No. of Staff

Budget

€m

Córas Iompair Éireann

01/01/1945

2007

12

283

*See below

2006

12

290

2005

12

298

2004

12

303

2003

12

302

2002

12

315

2001

12

444

2000

12

407

1999

12

314

1998

12

299

1997

12

311

Bus Éireann

11/12/1986

2007

9

2,750

*See below

2006

9

2,756

2005

9

2,758

2004

9

2,736

2003

9

2,721

2002

9

2,701

2001

6

2,641

2000

6

2,565

1999

6

2,462

1998

6

2,523

1997

6

2,521

Bus Átha Cliath

11/12/1986

2007

9

3,694

*See below

2006

9

3,453

2005

9

3,407

2004

9

3,367

Bus Átha Cliath—contd.

2003

9

3,367

2002

9

3,319

2001

6

3,332

2000

6

3,093

1999

6

3,004

1998

6

2,901

1997

6

2,901

Iarnród Éireann

11/12/1986

2007

9

4,964

*See below

2006

9

5,317

2005

9

5,463

2004

9

5,590

2003

9

5,833

2002

9

5,976

2001

6

5,724

2000

6

5,358

1999

6

5,234

1998

6

4,985

1997

6

4,939

Railway Safety Commission

01/01/2006

2007

N/A

8

2.09

2006

7

1.786

Railway Safety Advisory Council

11/05/2007

2007

14

N/A

Budget comes out of RSC Budget

*The CIÉ Group Annual Reports and Financial Statements, which are published annually, provide details of Revenue and Expenditure for CIÉ, Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann.

Name

Establishment Date

1997-2007

No. of Members

No. of Staff

Budget

€m

*Railway Procurement Agency

28th December 2001

2002

8

121

141,311,481

2003

8

131

145,405,647

2004

8

120

163,476,521

2005

8

120

91,892,082

2006

8

139

39,953,252

Commission for Taxi Regulation

1 September 2004

2004

1

Nil

748,799

2005

10

Nil

2,485,878

2006

11

Nil

10,322,845

2007

21

Nil

N/A

Advisory Council to the Commission for Taxi Regulation

4 November 2003

2003

Nil

18

Nil

2004

Nil

18

Nil

2005

Nil

18

Nil

2006 (1 January to 3 November)

Nil

18

Nil

2006 (4 November to 23 November)

Nil

Nil

Nil

2006 (24 November to 31 December)

Nil

1

Nil

2007 (1 January 2007 to 29 March 2007)

Nil

1

Nil

2007 (30 March to 23 July)

Nil

16

Nil

2007 (24 July to date)

Nil

17

Nil

Dublin Transportation Office

7 November 1995

2006

16

17

30,846

2005

16

17

38,131

2004

18

17

40,794

2003

18

16

42,564

2002

16

16

31,520

2001

15

16

35,983

2000

13

15

33,941

1999

14

15

30,967

1998

14

14

13,633

1997

14

14

10,459

Name

Establishment Date

1997-2007

No. of Members

No. of Staff

Budget

€m

Integrated Ticketing Project Board. The board is interim in nature, pending the establishment of the Dublin Transport Authority.

07 July 2006

2007

7

Zero. (The Board is non-statutory, all members except the independent chairperson are volunteers. The independent chairperson is paid a daily rate.)

Zero. (The capital budget for the integrated ticketing project is administered by the Railway Procurement Agency. A daily rate to cover the independent chairperson’s costs usually amounting to 3-4 days per month is paid to the chairperson.)

2006

7

National Roads Authority

1st January 1994

1997

14

65

3,540,030

1998

19

69

3,617,484

1999

21

68

4,106,333

2000

21

81

4,525,347

2001

24

88

5,722,710

2002

30

90

7,139,000

2003

31

90

7,589,000

2004

33

90

8,452,000

2005

36

89

8,688,000

2006

36

120

13,080,000

**The Marine Casualty Investigation Board

5th June 2002

2002

5

2

90,000

2003

5

2

205,384

2004

5

2

284,206

2005

5

2

286,918

2006

5

2

373,832

*In addition to the above, the RPA has to date received €77m in EU grant aid towards the cost of building the Luas line A.

**In 2002 staff salaries were paid by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. Staff salaries for each year 2003 to 2006 were paid by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and recouped from the Board at year end. Overall staff salaries for 2007 are not available. Both staff members are on secondment from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Following the Aer Lingus IPO in October 2006 the Government retains a 25.4% shareholding in the airline. Details of staff numbers from 1997-2006 are set out as follows:—

Name

Establishment Date

Year 1997-2007

No. of Members

Average No of Staff

Budget*

Aer Lingus

1966

1997

12

8,308

* No Exchequer funding for the last ten years

1998

12

8,316

1999

12

7,044

2000

12

6,624

2001

12

6,108

2002

12

4,647

2003

12

4,281

2004

12

3,906

2005

12

3,475

2006

12

3,617

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) is headed by the Commissioner for Aviation Regulation who is appointed by the Minister.

Staff numbers are set out as follows:—

Name

Establishment Date

Year

No of Members*

Number of staff at year end

Budget*

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR)

February 2001

2001

*There is no board of Directors

16

CAR is a self financing body

2002

16

2003

17

2004

17

2005

18

2006

20

The Irish Aviation Authority staff numbers are set out as follows:—

Name

Establishment Date

Year

No. of Members*

Staff

Budget*

The Irish Aviation authority

1st January 1994

1997

*The full complement including the Chairman is 9

637

*The IAA does not receive any State funding

1998

642

1999

654

2000

675

2001

693

2002

681

2003

684

2004

673

2005

640

2006

650

Authority

Date of Est.

No. of Board Members

Staff and Budget

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA)

In keeping with the State Airports Act 2004 the DAA was established on the 1st October 2004.

9 Board Members 4 Elected Employee Members

Commercial State Body.

Shannon Airport Authority (SAA)*

In keeping with the State Airports Act 2004 the SAA was incorporated on the 16th September 2004.

9 Board Members 4 Elected Employee Members** 1 Non-Voting Worker Director***

Commercial State Body.

Cork Airport Authority (CAA)*

In keeping with the State Airports Act 2004 the CAA was incorporated on the 16th September 2004.

9 Board Members 4 Elected Employee Members** 1 Non-Voting Worker Director***

Commercial State Body.

*The Shannon and Cork Airport Authorities were incorporated on the 16th September 2004 and in line with the framework provided by the State Airports Act 2004, these two authorities will, in due course, operate their respective airports.

**The employee members are appointed on a short term temporary basis in accordance with Section 9(9) of the State Airports Act 2004 until the Minister for Transport is in a position to appoint employee members under Section 15 of the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977 as amended by Section 19 of the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1988.

***The Department agreed to a request by ICTU for the appointment of a fifth worker representative on each of these boards, during the temporary period, pending the implementation of the State Airports Act 2004. For the duration of the interim period, the two additional worker representatives are entitled to attend board meetings but they are not entitled to vote or otherwise discharge any of the formal duties of directors.

The vast majority of the State's commercial seaport capacity is located within the jurisdiction of the ten State owned port companies established pursuant to the provisions of the Harbours Acts 1996 and 2000 (Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Dún Laoghaire, New Ross, Shannon Foynes, Dundalk, Drogheda, Galway and Wicklow). The Minister for Transport is the main shareholder in the ten companies. Each board has up to twelve members in accordance with the Act. Staff and budgets are an operational matter for the companies.

Rosslare Europort falls outside the scope of the Harbours Acts but is owned and operated by the CIE Group. Greenore Port in Co. Louth is a privately owned port in which Dublin Port Company has a 50% shareholding.

There are currently 10 harbour authorities under the provisions of the Harbours Act 1946:

Arklow Harbour Commissioners

Bantry Bay Harbour Commissioners Bantry Bay Harbour Commissioners were established under the Harbours Act 1976.

Baltimore and Skibbereen Harbour Commissioners

Kilrush Urban District Council

Kinsale Harbour Commissioners

River Moy Commissioners

Tralee and Fenit Harbour Commissioners

Westport Harbour Commissioners

Wexford Harbour Commissioners

Youghal Urban District Council.

Membership of the harbour authorities varies in accordance with the provisions of the legislation. Staff and budgets of the harbour authorities are operational matters for the authorities themselves.

Two harbour authorities transferred to local authority control in 2006 (Sligo and Annagassan). Dingle was designated a Fishery Harbour Centre in 2007 by the Minister of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, with the consent of the Minister for Transport. Accordingly, these three bodies ceased to function as harbour authorities under the Harbours Acts.

Bus Services.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

215 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Transport the position in relation to Bus Éireann’s eastern regional expansion plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30118/07]

I refer the Deputy to my response to his question No 102 which was answered on 15th November 2007. The provision of public bus services by Bus Éireann on specific routes to serve particular areas is an operational matter for the company. However the company is required to notify my Department in advance of any proposals to introduce services on new routes or alter existing services. I can confirm that my Department received a notification from Bus Eireann for a service from Tullow to Dublin. There is no other application from Bus Éireann in respect of services to or from Tullow.

Section 25(1) of the Transport Act 1958 provides that the consent of the Minister for Transport is required where State companies wish to introduce or alter a passenger road service where such service would compete with a licensed passenger road service provided by a private bus operator. In accordance with section 25(2), the decision made by the Minister under section 25(1) is final.

My Department concluded that in this instance the proposed service would compete with an existing service licensed by a private operator in accordance with the Road Transport Act 1932. Therefore, on 30 April 2007 my Department informed Bus Éireann that should they wish to pursue the introduction of this proposed service, the Company would be required to submit an application under Section 25 of the Road Transport Act, 1958. To date no application in accordance with Section 25 of the Road Transport Act, 1958 has been received from Bus Éireann in respect of the proposed service.

Rail Services.

Damien English

Ceist:

216 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport the most recent estimated cost of the Dublin to Pace phase of the Navan to Dublin rail line. [30162/07]

Damien English

Ceist:

217 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport the most recent estimated cost of the Pace to Navan phase of the Navan to Dublin rail line. [30163/07]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 216 and 217 together.

I do not consider it prudent to release commercially sensitive information in relation to the cost of individual projects within Transport 21 until the public procurement processes are complete.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

218 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30178/07]

None of the Advisers appointed by me since I took up my appointment as Minister has declared a conflict of interest to date. Furthermore, my Department has no record of any conflict of interest declaration made by any of the Advisers appointed by previous Ministers assigned to my Department in the past five years.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

219 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30192/07]

In relation to the matter of private consultants engaged by agencies this is a matter for the agencies themselves. The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the Department is contained in the following tables.

Division

Consultancy Firm

Reason

Cost

Marine Survey Office

Phoenix Safety

To draft health and safety strategy required by Statute to produce

€10,698.13

Marine Survey Office

Sogeti

To Develop an IT vision for Maritime Safety Sector

€80,066.10 (Expected to cost a further €4,000-€5,000)

Dublin Transport Authority (DTA)

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

Legal advice in relation to the drafting of some provisions of the Dublin Transport Authority Bill

€26,630 (inc Vat) (Engaged in November 2006 and completed in early 2007)

Internal Audit

Ernst & Young

Internal Audit Services

€13,000

Internal Audit

Helm Corporation Ltd

Internal Audit Services

€11,965

Internal Audit

Deloitte

Internal Audit Services

€72,600

Strategic HR Unit

Institute of Public Administration

To conduct an Employee Attitude Survey and to produce a HR-Strategy for the Department

€125,598

Luas/Metro Division

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Review of Business cases of Luas Lines A1 and C1

€13,370.50

Luas/Metro Division

Dom Hegarty

Review of funding arrangements for Longmile Road Junction

€18,876.00

Luas/MetroDivision

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

Seminar on State Aid in Land Transport

€7,500 (ex Vat)

Irish Coast Guard

Consultavia

Ongoing Advice on Helicopter Service

€19,700 approx.

Public Transport Access

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Value for Money Study on the DTO Traffic Management Grants Scheme

€59,986 (inc Vat)

Air Services Development Services

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Legal advice to the Minister in relation to Ryanair’s bid to take over Aer Lingus

€1.373 million

Maritime Safety Directorate

Ms Clodagh Brick Barrister

Consolidated and Annotated working Text of the extant Merchant Shipping legislation 1894-2005

€52,586

Motor Insurance Unit

PA Consulting Group

Review of Motor Insurance costs for Young People

€70,650 (€28,495.50 cost to date)

Transport 21

Drury Communications

To provide professional advice to the Department on communication issues arising in relation to Transport 21

€183,599.95 (inc VAT)

Transport 21

Raymond Turner Associates

To assist the Department in the promotion of Transport 21 image

€172,237.10 (inc VAT)

Transport 21

DesignBridge

Transport 21 branding

€70,463.35 (inc VAT)

Transport 21

Steer Davies Gleave

Appraisal Audit to review compliance by the State Agencies responsible for the delivery of transport infrastructure with the appraisal and procurement guidelines.

€58,747.05 (inc VAT)

Transport 21

Booz Allen Hamilton

Implementation Audit to assess quality and robustness of project development and implementation of selected Transport 21 projects.

€26,253.27 (inc VAT)

Transport 21

Goodbody Economic Consultants

To review business cases prepared by the Agencies implementing Transport 21 projects.

€0 to date

Division

Consultancy Firm

Reason

Cost

Transport 21

Booz Allen Hamilton

To provide independent financial, economic and technical advice in relation to the Transport 21 capital investment framework.

€225,411.71 (inc VAT)

Transport 21

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Review and Development of Investment Appraisal Monitoring Systems

€49,174.40 (inc VAT)

Integrated Ticketing Unit (ITS)

MVA

To provide technical advice to the Chairman of the Integrated Ticketing Project Board

€63,333.34

Aviation Regulation/International Relations Division

Mr. R. Kane B.L.

Legal drafting of Statutory Instruments to give effect to 3 EU Directives/Regulations. Two elements out of three part project have been completed.

€24,000 (not yet paid)

Aviation Regulation/International Relations Division

Marsh Insurance Ireland

Provision of regular advice and updates to the Department regarding any withdrawals of war and terrorism insurance cover in the aviation market.

€4,800 (not yet paid)

Railway Investment Division

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Business cases for — Reopening of WRC Phase 1(Ennis to Athenry) — Dublin Bus requirement — CIÉ purchase of 33 railcars.

€19,481

Railway Investment Division

Patrick Butler, Senior Counsel

Presiding over the Public Inquiry into the Glounthaune to Midleton Railway and reporting on same

€33,275

Railway Investment Division

Moore Stephens Caplin Meehan

Financial Audit of Cohesion Funded Rail Network; Track and Signalling Project

€9,498.50

Railway Investment Division

FGS McClure Watters

Article 4 Verification Checks on EU co-financed Public Transport Projects under the ESIOP 2000-2006

€48,400

Railway Investment Division

Raymond Burke Consultancy

Evaluation of the Expenditure Review of CIE Group Subvention

€3,265

Strategic Planning and Policy Division

David Browne

Sustainability Advisor to provide economic and environmental analysis to support the Department policy on sustainability issues

€67,496

Airports

Indecon in association with London Economics and Leigh Fisher Associates (now Jacobs Consultancy) — appointed in 2006

Appraisal of proposals for funding under the Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant Scheme

Total cost €169,950 (including VAT) of which €67,980 was paid in 2007

Airports

Avia solutions — recently commenced — no payments made

Advisor for appraisal of tenders for Public Service Obligation air service contracts

€31,702 (including VAT)

Airports

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Advice in relation to the business planning process for the three State Airports

Total cost €272,329 (incl VAT) of which €54,822 was paid in 2007.

Maritime Transport

Richard Hooper

Advice in relation to proposed development of a new port facility at Bremore in Fingal County by Drogheda Port Co.

€30,000 approx

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

220 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30206/07]

Under its customer services arrangements the Department of Transport is pleased to receive from the public complaints, comments and observations relating to any aspect of its remit. The normal procedure is to refer such matters to the relevant division of the Department or, where appropriate, to the agency concerned to address the issue.

Departmental divisions also receive from time to time complaints and comments which they address directly. The Department doesn't maintain a central log of all such interactions, although the majority of these over the past few years have related to driver testing.

As part of the customer services arrangements the Department also monitors public satisfaction with its services through the commissioning of an independent customer satisfaction survey every two years. The detailed results of these surveys are published on the Department's website (www.transport.ie) where they are available for inspection.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

221 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30220/07]

The approximate amount spent by my Department on advertising that includes public information notices and official notices in newspapers each year since June 2002 up to 9/11/2007 is outlined below.

Year

Amount paid (in Print Media)

2002

€8,192.03 (Ads)

€4,723.07 (Govt. Notices)

2003

€36,410.65 (Ads)

€24,038.31 (Govt. Notices)

2004

€68,209.60 (Ads)

€20,441.04 (Govt. Notices)

2005

€45,022.06 (Ads)

€9,086.17 (Govt. Notices)

2006

€86,730.51 (Ads)

€11,296.17 (Govt. Notices)

2007

€1,330.95 (Ads)

€376.00 (Govt Notices)

In addition, the Department has spent €46,019.00 (plus VAT) since 2002 on publicising road safety for educational purposes under the Business 2000 programme and €46,000 (plus VAT) including the production costs on video/DVD/CD material for Transport 21.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

222 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30234/07]

My Department is very conscious of the need to control unnecessary costs and achieve value for money. In this respect a detailed spend analysis was carried out recently by the Department in the context of the development of a Corporate Procurement Plan. The plan, which will be launched shortly, is being introduced to deliver strategic procurement practice and annual efficiency dividends.

In addition, the Department is required as part of the Administrative Budget Agreement it has in place with the Department of Finance to provide an administrative efficiency dividend equivalent to 2% of its administrative spending.

Formal reviews, with the focus on policy and key spending areas in particular, are also taking place as part of the Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative; examining spending in a systematic manner as part of a framework introduced to secure improved value for money from public expenditure.

Water Sports Vehicles.

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

223 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport the legislation in relation to the registering of leisure craft, for example, jet skis, ribs and other types of speed boats; if there is legislation with regard to the compulsory insurance of such vessels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30236/07]

The Mercantile Marine Act 1955 sets out the requirements for registering vessels in Ireland. Irish owned vessels over 15 net tons are required to be registered under the Act. However, for vessels under 15 net tons, registration is voluntary and owners may register such a craft if they so wish. Small leisure craft would fall into this category.

The 1955 Act and the system of registration in Ireland is under review in my Department at present following a consultation process. One of the issues being considered is how best to improve provision for the registration of leisure craft, including jet skis and other small craft. Following completion of the current phase of the review it is intended that there will be further consultation with relevant stakeholders in the new year.

Currently there is no legislative provision for the compulsory insurance of leisure craft but my Department would recommend that owners and operators of leisure craft should have appropriate insurance in place.

Consular Services.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

224 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to a person (details supplied); if there is financial assistance available to assist with the costs involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30053/07]

As the Deputy will be aware from the reply I gave on the 31 October 2007 in relation to this case, the Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Irish Embassy in London, would be pleased to provide a range of practical assistance to the person concerned in taking the matter forward. However, there are no funds available from State expense to cover the cost of repatriation in this case.

Departmental Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

225 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the budgets of the boards, bodies, authorities, agencies and quangos under the remit of his Department since 1997 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30103/07]

The Advisory Board for Irish Aid, which replaced the Irish Aid Advisory Committee (IAAC), was established in August 2002 to provide general oversight and advice to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for Overseas Development on the strategic direction of the Government's programme of assistance to developing countries. The principal expenditure of the Advisory Board relates to commissioning research and its budgets were as follows:

Year

Budget

2002

65,727

2003

608,632

2004

950,257

2005

1,008,119

2006

1,062,884

2007

1,200,000

The Development Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) was appointed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2003 following the recommendations of the Ireland Aid Review Committee. Its purpose is to advise the Minister, Minister of State and Irish Aid on policy regarding development education. As an advisory body, the administration of DEAC is serviced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and funded within its overall budget.

The Díon Advisory Committee advises the Government and makes recommendations on Emigrant Services funding to voluntary organisations that work with vulnerable Irish people resident in Britain. In February 2003, the funding allocation was transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The administration of the Committee is provided by our Embassy in London and financed within the Department's overall budget.

The Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange (the Fulbright Commission) finances study, research, teaching and other educational activities between Ireland and the United States of America. The Fulbright Commission enjoys autonomy of management and administration in accordance with the Educational Exchange (Ireland and the United States of America) Act, 1991. From 1997 until 2000 the Grant-in-Aid given to the Commission was £100,000 annually. In 2001 the Grant-in-Aid figure was increased to €254,000 per annum and has remained at this level since then.

The Hunger Task Force was established in September 2007, in line with the recommendation of the White Paper on Overseas Development Assistance, to identify the contributions that Ireland can make to international efforts to reduce hunger. The Task Force has been appointed for a period of six months, after which it will present a final report to the Minister of State with responsibility for Overseas Development. Its administration is serviced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and it has no distinct budget.

International Agreements.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

226 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding Ireland and the Antarctic Treaty. [30237/07]

Ireland has a proud history in the field of polar exploration, particularly in the Antarctic, and I am glad that, in recent years, due recognition has begun to be given in this country to important Irish explorers such as Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean. The Shackleton Autumn School is a valuable forum in this regard.

Issues concerning the Antarctic Treaty have been addressed most recently by the Government in a Seanad Adjournment Debate of 27 September, 2007 and in a PQ reply of 23 October, 2007.

The stated aim of the Antarctic Treaty, which opened for signature on 1 December, 1959 and came into force in 1961, is to ensure "in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord."

While the Treaty has been in operation since 1961, only 46, or fewer than one quarter of UN Member States, are States Parties. Many of those who have chosen not to accede have argued that the Antarctic should be declared part of the common heritage of mankind and thus be treated in a manner comparable to Outer Space or the International Sea Bed Area and therefore beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. Some have called for a UN agreement to which all Member States would subscribe as the best means to ensure full accountability for actions undertaken in, affecting and concerning Antarctica.

While Ireland has traditionally been sympathetic to this view, we are aware of the immense difficulties which would arise in seeking to negotiate a new Treaty. We have also noted that UN General Assembly Resolutions of 2002 and 2005 welcomed the practice whereby the Antarctic Treaty consultative parties regularly provide the UN Secretary General with information on their consultative meetings and their activities in Antarctica.

In all the circumstances, it has been decided to re-examine the question of accession. Officials in my Department, therefore, are currently studying the issues involved in accession, with a view to initiating broader interdepartmental consultation on the question.

National Household Survey.

Damien English

Ceist:

227 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the percentage of 16 to 18 year olds in the State that are in training and employment. [30152/07]

According to the latest detailed information available from the Central Statistics Office's Quarterly National Household Survey for Quarter 2 of this year, the following are the breakdowns in relation to 16-18 year olds' participation in training and employment: 20.1% of those aged 16-18 were engaged in employment; 14.6% of those aged 16-18 were engaged in training. This includes all courses outside of the regular education system; 1.97% of those aged 16-18 were engaged in both training and employment. I will communicate the latest information regarding Quarter 3 of this year to the deputy shortly.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

228 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the estimate he has made of the cost of paying salaries and pension contributions for additional Ministers of State appointed by him in 2007; the cost of same for staff assigned to each additional Minister for State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30160/07]

There has been 3 additional Ministers of State appointed to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in 2007, of which, only one and his staff is paid by this Department. The estimate of the cost of salaries for the Minister of State and his staff is €461,253 per annum. Pension contributions are deducted based on the PRSI class of each individual. The additional Minister of State is paid a Minister of State's non-pensionable allowance by this Department.

Consumer Protection.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

229 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the consumer rights in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30029/07]

The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 provides consumers with certain contractual rights when purchasing goods and services. These rights essentially relate to the merchantable quality of goods offered for sale and the requirements of diligence in relation to the manner in which services are supplied. The Act does not convey any specific statutory right enabling a consumer to reclaim refunds in relation to contracts entered into for goods or services solely because the consumer no longer has any need for the product or service concerned.

It is not clear from the details supplied with the Deputy's question as to the nature of the contract the person concerned entered into or the basis upon which the deposit was paid. Given that this is essentially a matter of contract, the person concerned may wish to consult her legal adviser in relation to this matter.

Semi-State Bodies.

Damien English

Ceist:

230 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the budget for the IDA in 2007; and the amount spent to date, with a breakdown of this figure for each county in tabular readable form. [30142/07]

For the year 2007, the total budget for IDA Ireland, covering the Agency's capital and current spend, was €296.761m. made up of €140.743m. from the Exchequer and €156.018m. own resource income. Of this figure an amount of €116.669m. has been spent up to 31st October 2007. It should be noted, however, that grant payments to industry, which comprise the major portion of IDA's capital expenditure, are demand driven and the majority of such payments are made in the fourth quarter of the year.

Figures are not broken down on a county-by-county basis. The Agency's Financial Statements are published in the IDA Annual Report. The latest Annual Report for the Agency is in respect of the year ended 31 December, 2006. This document has been placed in the Library of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Employment Statistics.

Damien English

Ceist:

231 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of people employed in manufacturing and call centres as of 31 December for each of the years 2005, 2006 and as of 31 October 2007 with a breakdown on a county basis in tabular readable form. [30149/07]

The following tables set out, on a regional and county basis, the number of permanent jobs, in Enterprise Agency (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development, Údarás na Gaeltachta) assisted Manufacturing and International Services firms in 2005 and 2006. Employment data in respect of companies supported by the Enterprise Agencies is collated by Forfás on an annual basis and accordingly there is no data available for 2007. Unfortunately, within the general data available in relation to the International Services sector, it is not possible to isolate data specifically on call centres.

Table 1

Permanent Jobs: Manufacturing

Enterprise Agencies

2005

2006

South East total

25,144

25,234

Carlow

3,070

3,062

Kilkenny

2,966

2,963

Tipperary South Riding

4,577

4,626

Waterford

9,496

9,557

Wexford

5,035

5,026

Border total

26,051

25,960

Cavan

5,183

5,501

Donegal

5,302

4,930

Leitrim

1,033

994

Louth

6,054

6,002

Monaghan

4,480

4,677

Sligo

3,999

3,856

Mid West total

24,291

24,868

Clare

7,009

6,839

Limerick

13,476

14,155

Tipperary North Riding

3,806

3,874

South West total

36,450

35,913

Cork

31,801

31,451

Kerry

4,649

4,462

Dublin total

41,414

41,267

Dublin

41,414

41,267

West total

23,732

23,644

Galway

15,318

15,347

Mayo

5,701

5,747

Roscommon

2,713

2,550

Mid East total

26,248

26,214

Kildare

14,864

14,960

Meath

5,492

5,312

Wicklow

5,892

5,942

Midlands Total

12,338

12,852

Laois

1,376

1,433

Longford

2,858

2,836

Offaly

4,170

4,424

Westmeath

3,934

4,159

Table 2

Permanent Jobs: International services

Enterprise Agencies

2005

2006

South East total

1,923

2,202

Carlow

99

84

Kilkenny

498

518

Tipperary South Riding

123

90

Waterford

1,049

1,336

Wexford

154

174

Border total

3,377

3,554

Cavan

8

7

Donegal

1,529

1,550

Leitrim

955

871

Louth

653

700

Monaghan

48

51

Sligo

184

375

Mid West total

2,505

2,720

Clare

1,071

1,212

Limerick

1,416

1,495

Tipperary North Riding

18

13

Enterprise Agencies

2005

2006

South West total

7,373

7,711

Cork

6,708

7,099

Kerry

665

612

Dublin total

37,877

40,093

Dublin

37,877

40,093

West total

3,076

3,280

Galway

2,493

2,675

Mayo

508

539

Roscommon

75

66

Mid East total

2,298

2,227

Kildare

1,060

1,169

Meath

345

338

Wicklow

893

720

Midlands Total

1,060

864

Laois

27

73

Longford

5

5

Offaly

23

23

Westmeath

1,005

763

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

232 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30171/07]

No declarations of a conflict of interest have been made by advisers in my Department since my appointment in September 2004. My Department would not be aware of any such declarations made personally to my predecessor, the then Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms. Mary Harney).

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

233 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30185/07]

The consultancies engaged by my Department from 1st January –31st October, 2007 are set out in the following tabular statement. In relation to consultancies engaged by the Agencies, this is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agencies concerned and one in which I have no function.

2007

Name of Consultants

Purpose of Consultancy

Total Cost to date

Projects Completed Yes/No

Indecon International

Value for Money Review of Science Foundation Ireland

€55,622

No

HELM Corporation Ltd.

Advice and support on the Optimisation of the ORACLE Financial Management system

€8,145.76

Yes

RITS

ICT Security Review

€118,928

Yes

Tom Walsh

Provides assistance in the production of revised health and safety legislation as well as provision of advice to the Department on other occupational health and safety matters

€67,776.64

No

Corporate Risk Strategies — CRS

Health and Safety Consultancy

€4,840 incl VAT

No

Barbara O’Mara

Legal Advice ODCA/NCA

€35,086

Ongoing

Q4 PR

Public Relations ODCA/NCA

€156,509

Ongoing

Owens DBB

Media ODCA/NCA

€128,566

Yes

Amas

Website Development & maintenance ODCA/NCA

€26,916

Ongoing

Parallel Internet

Web Development ODCA/NCA

€12,826

Yes

Nathan Reilly

Review of Consumer Legislation

€6,786.03

Largely completed

The Media Group

To devise and manage a national promotion and advertising campaign for the ICT Audits Programme for Small Businesses in Ireland(Known as the Tech-Check Programme)

€118,725.20

No

Noel J. Travers BL

Drafting of legal instrument for Transposition of the Measuring Instruments Directive 2004/22/EC

€9,377.50

Yes

Goodbody Economic Consultants

Review of Wage Subsidy Scheme

Nil paid to date

No — ongoing

Tom Ferris

Regulatory Case Studies for Business Regulation Forum

€2,997 as final 25% of total payment

Yes

Dan Flinter

Facilitation of Business Regulation Workshops, production of Report and presentation to High Level Group on Business Regulation

€8,643.09

Yes

Mazzars

Engagement of Consultants to carry out internal audits within the Department

€6,289.34

No ongoing

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

234 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30199/07]

My Department has a formal complaints procedure in place since 2003 to deal with any complaints from members of the public about the manner in which the Department delivers on its Customer Charter. The Department ensures that any complaint received from a member of the public is properly investigated and responded to and also ensures that, where possible, the causes giving rise to any complaint are rectified. My Department received no formal complaints in accordance with this procedure 2005 or 2006 from members of the public. To date in 2007, the Department has received 2 complaints.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

235 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30213/07]

The amount spent by my Department on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002 is as follows- €493,296 in 2002, €528,952 in 2003, €574,142 in 2004, €661,061 in 2005, €713,695 in 2006 and €596,664 to date in 2007. The amount spent by my Department on television, radio, print media and internet media since 2002 to date in tabular form is as follows:

Year

T.V

Radio

Print Media

Internet Media

Other Promotional costs

2002

75,940*

Nil

280,358

21,031

115,967

2003

Nil

60,784

360,490

107,678

Nil

2004

66,125*

72,678

256,657

55,886

122,796

2005

38,439

94,454

315,827

79,860

132,481

2006

63,909

204,252

253,407

67,155

124,972

2007

39,801

60,630

298,382

15,157

182,694

*Not possible to disaggregate TV and radio figures for 2002 and 2004.

The above figures do not include any spending by the offices or agencies of my Department.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

236 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30227/07]

A review of efficiency savings is carried out by my Department each year in accordance with the terms of the Administrative Budget Agreement between my Department and the Department of Finance.

The Agreement requires my Department to achieve efficiency savings equivalent to 2% of the total basic running cost of the Department each year. These efficiencies may be achieved, for example, by financing the cost of new services during the year from savings elsewhere in the Department's existing Administrative Budget allocation.

Failure to achieve the efficiency savings in any year may result in a reduction, by the Department of Finance, in the allocation to my Department's running costs for the following year. My Department has consistently been able to demonstrate that it has achieved the required level of efficiency savings.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

237 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the reason on his Department’s website, it is stated that the total capital cost of the National Aquatic Centre was €70.5 million when the previously stated cost was €63 million; if this is so, the reason for the overrun; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30132/07]

Both figures relating to the capital cost of the National Aquatic Centre and cited by the Deputy represent rounded up figures. The figures are compatible with each other, the differential arising from the VAT element of the capital cost. Inclusive of VAT the cost of the National Aquatic Centre comes to €70.5 million. Net of VAT, the cost of the project comes to €62.5 million. The National Aquatic Centre project was delivered on time and within budget.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

238 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30166/07]

I understand that the Advisers in my Department have complied with the provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995 over the period referred to in the question.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

239 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30180/07]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to my Department is set out in the following table.

Consultant

Description

Cost

O’Herlihy Communications

PR Consultants for the Department (January – September)

37,800

CHL Consulting

Report on the progress of the implementation of the Business Plan for 2006 and 2007 for the James Joyce Centre and to recommend on future of the centre

17,000

Indecon International Economic Consultants

To analyse and evaluate the potential economic benefits to Ireland in the sporting, business and tourism areas from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games

114,000

Holohan Leisure

To carry out an analysis of the sports facility provision in Ireland to assist the Department in developing a sports facilities strategy.

113,740

Systems Dynamics Solutions Ltd

To set up database to record results of swimming pool usage survey.

6,776

Raymund Burke Consulting

Independent evaluation of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme. Value For Money & Policy Review Report.

3,354

Q4

PR and Communications for Culture Ireland

60,000

Charlie Pike The Pacello Group (Europe) Ltd.

Culture Ireland — Website maintenance Oct 07-Feb 08 – 6 month contract

3,993

The engagement of consultancy firms by the agencies under aegis of my Department is a day-to-day matter for the agencies themselves.

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

240 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30194/07]

The number of complaints received by my Department in relation to its activities since the beginning of 2005 is set out in the following table:

Year

No. of Complaints

2005

0

2006

0

2007 (to date)

2

Total

2

My Department is fully committed to the delivery of quality customer service and has to that end recently revised its Customer Charter. There are procedures in place in my Department for dealing with complaints received all of which are fully investigated.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

241 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30208/07]

My Department which includes the National Archives was established in June 2002. The total spend on advertising since that date is as follows;

Year

June-December 2002

186,797

2003

393,352

2004

392,178

2005

200,824

2006

243,430

2007 to date

102,726

The bulk of the expenditure on advertising incurred by my Department is in respect of newspaper advertisements and advertisements in other publications such as the Phone Book and the Iris Oifigiúil. Promotion, media and advertising expenditure also formed a small element of the programme costs of the Rejoyce, Beckett Centenary, Dublin Theatre 50th Anniversary, Flight of the Earls Commemoration and Viking Longboat events, in the period covered by the question. The Department does not retain separate data in relation to the expenditure in grant aided initiatives.

It should be noted that expenditure by the National Museum and the National Library is included in the figures up to 2005 as they were part of my Department until they were established as separate corporate entities in May of that year.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

242 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30222/07]

In making this response to the Deputy it is assumed that when he refers to efficiency savings analyses he means reviews under the aegis of the Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative.

Under the current round of that Initiative, which commenced in 2006, there are six reviews in train, as follows: Irish Film Board, Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, Irish Sports Council Reviews (rolled over from the previous round); the Arts and Culture Capital Enhancement Scheme (ACCESS), Arts Council and Horse and Greyhound Fund Reviews. The Swimming Pool Value for Money and Policy Review is under consideration. The Reviews of the Irish Sports Council and of the Irish Film Board are to be completed before the end of this year. The other Reviews are in train.

My Department intends to take into account the findings and recommendations of the Value for Money Reviews in its future management of the Programmes under review, and where practicable and appropriate, to have them implemented.

Pension Provisions.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

243 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his estimate of the cost of meeting future pensions and other commitments from the Social Insurance Fund up to 2055 under the assumptions used in the recent review of the Social Insurance Fund and assuming income from the National Pension Reserve Fund; and the estimated average percentage increase in PRSI rate if all of these costs were to be paid by contributors. [30329/07]

The Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 requires the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to arrange for an actuarial review of the financial condition of the Social Insurance Fund to be made every five years. The most recent actuarial review, which covers the period from 2005 to 2061, was published on the 17th October 2007.

One of the Review's principal findings was that, based on a central scenario with stated assumptions about demographic, economic and benefit developments over the period (the last assuming that future benefits will increase in line with future earnings), PRSI rates would have to increase over their present levels if income and expenditure on the Fund is to be balanced over the long term to 2061. However, the Review estimated that if no change is made to PRSI contribution rates over that period, Social Insurance Fund expenditure would exceed Social Insurance Fund income by €35.3 billion by 2061.

In such a situation and assuming no other change, the Exchequer, as residual financer of the Social Insurance Fund, would have to cover that shortfall. While the proceeds of the National Pension Reserve Fund, which has been established for the purpose of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions from the year 2025 until the year 2055, or such subsequent years as may be specified, will be available to meet some of these Social Insurance Fund subvention costs over some or all of this period, the Actuarial Review did not make any assumption about the scale of funds that would be available to the Social Insurance Fund from the National Pensions Reserve Fund for that purpose, nor did it make an estimate of the scale of increases in the levels of income taxation, or indeed any other taxation head, that would be necessary to meet a shortfall in the Social Insurance Fund over the longer term assuming no change to the existing PRSI regime or otherwise.

It should also be noted that the projected shortfall on the Social Insurance Fund (based on stated assumptions) that would have to be covered by the Exchequer out to 2061 is only one of the many long term social welfare and other demands that would have to be financed by the Exchequer and that income taxation is only one of the range of income sources that would be available to the Exchequer to meet these demands.

School Meals Scheme.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

244 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if an application has been received from a school (details supplied) in County Donegal for funding under the school meals local projects scheme for the year 2007; if the application has been successful; if the school will be considered for inclusion in the scheme for 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30023/07]

The school meals programme operated by my Department gives funding towards provision of food services for disadvantaged school children through two schemes. The first is the long-standing statutory urban school meals scheme, currently operated by 36 local authorities. The second is the school meals (local projects) programme through which funding is provided by my Department to participating schools in both urban and rural areas who are running specific school meals projects.

An application for funding under the school meals local projects scheme for a lunch club in the school year 2007/2008 was received in my Department on 1st October 2007 from the school concerned. As demand on the school meals local projects scheme has increased dramatically in 2007, and due to budget constraints, a number of schools, including the school concerned, have been informed that their applications for funding under the scheme cannot be processed in 2007.

In 2008, priority for funding under the scheme will, in the first instance, be confined to schools in the Department of Education & Science's initiative for disadvantaged schools, ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools' (DEIS). Following on from that, applications from schools not coming within DEIS will be considered having regard to any available funding remaining.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

245 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the way a calculation was made in relation to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and the further way an error was made in a Departmental reply. [30060/07]

The calculation referred to arose from an overlap in the payment of State Pension Non-Contributory and British Retirement Pension in the period from 8 October 2004 to 4 January 2007. The overpayment of pension amounted to €2,387.50. Due to an oversight reference to the amount overpaid was omitted in the letter that issued on 19 th October 2007. The misunderstanding that has arisen in this case is regretted.

Employment Support Services.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

246 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when the Employment Exchange Office, King Street, Loughrea, County Galway will be restored and re-opened to the public; the reason it was closed, without notice causing hardship to persons using the office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30071/07]

The office at King Street Loughrea had to be closed, from Friday 2 November, 2007, for Health and Safety reasons. It is not possible to develop the premises to the standard required by my Department for customers, or staff and consequently the Office of Public Works have been pursuing alternative accommodation. It is expected that a new office will be ready for occupation early in the New Year.

Customers were advised of the closure of the office and were given details of how to conduct their business with my Department until the new office opens. Local Office services are being provided from Galway. Unemployed customers in the Loughrea area are not required to travel to Galway to sign the live register each month, but may do so by post instead. All phone calls to the old office are automatically directed to Galway at no additional cost to the customer and a dedicated direct line is also available. My Department also has two Social Welfare Inspectors located in Loughrea, who continue to provide their full range of services and information. Any inconvenience caused to customers is regretted.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

247 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there is a delay in processing family income supplement applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30127/07]

My Department has consistently publicised the FIS scheme in order to maximise uptake by qualified families. Significant improvements in the qualifying income limits and ongoing awareness campaigns have resulted in a strong upward trend in the level of new claims and, consequently, in claims for renewals. Entitlement to FIS is based on an applicant satisfying a means test and on certification of employment by the employer, which adds to the time taken to process claims.

There are currently some 20,500 people in receipt of a weekly FIS payment. To date in 2007, my Department has received 34,600 new and renewal FIS claims compared to 29,800 for the same period in 2006 — an increase of over 16. %. At this time, there are some 11,000 claims on hand for finalisation, of which some 5,000 are new claims and 6,000 are renewal claims. The average time taken to award a FIS claim or renewal in 2007 (up to end of Oct) is almost 15 weeks.

My Department introduced a number of measures to address the efficiency of claim processing for FIS: A review of existing processes and procedures has been undertaken with the explicit objective of reducing delays in claim processing; Priority is being given to claims where a claim is being renewed to ensure continuity of payment; The ongoing staffing requirement was recently reviewed in light of the increased volumes of claims. Overtime working is being judiciously applied. These measures will, over time, lead to more efficient processing and reduce the number of claims on hand. The position is being closely monitored and kept under review by my Department.

Departmental Statistics.

Damien English

Ceist:

248 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of duplicate PPS numbers that have been handed out in error since 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30144/07]

A PPS Number is automatically issued in the case of children born in Ireland. In other cases application must be made in person at one of the Department's network of Local Offices. PPS Numbers are issued following a controlled allocation procedure, involving a personal attendance at the office, the completion of a written application form and the submission and authentication of appropriate identity documents.

Once the identity of an individual is verified, his/her relevant identity data is entered by local staff to the Central Records System (CRS) and a PPS Number allocated overnight. A number of system validation checks are part of this process to prevent multiple PPS Numbers being issued to the same individual. The current allocation process does not permit duplicate numbers to be issued. My Department continues to develop/refine standards for registration and control to take into account its experience in managing the number.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

249 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30176/07]

In the period in question, none of the people employed as Special Advisers by me or both my predecessors, have declared a conflict of interest in relation to the performance of their duties as Special Adviser.

INFORMATION NOTE

Extract of the relevant section (19.3) of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 follows:

(3) (a) If the remuneration of a person as a special adviser exceeds a prescribed amount, (HEO Maximum — currently €52,379 per annum) then—

(i) subject to section 20 (3), in each year during any part of which the person is a special adviser, he or she shall prepare and furnish to the office holder concerned and the Commission a statement in writing of—

(I) the interests of the person, and

(II) the interests of which he or she has actual knowledge of his or her spouse or a child of the person or of his or her spouse, during the appropriate period specified in section 20 (1) which could materially influence the person in or in relation to the performance of his or her functions as a special adviser by reason of the fact that such performance could so affect those interests as to confer on or withhold from the person or the spouse or child a substantial benefit,

(ii) in any case where such a function falls to be performed and he or she has knowledge that he or she or a connected person has a material interest in a matter to which the function relates, he or she—

(I) shall, as soon as may be, prepare and furnish to the office holder and to the Commission a statement in writing of those facts,

(II) shall not perform the function unless there are compelling reasons requiring him or her to do so, and

(III) shall, if he or she proposes to perform the function, prepare and furnish to the office holder and the Commission, before or, if that is not reasonably possible, as soon as may be after such performance, a statement in writing of the compelling reasons aforesaid, and

(iii) the person shall undertake not to engage in any trade, profession, vocation or other occupation, whether remunerated or otherwise, which might reasonably be seen to be capable of interfering or being incompatible with the performance by the person of his or her functions as a special adviser.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

250 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30190/07]

The information requested is currently being compiled within the Department and will be made available to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

251 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30204/07]

A formal comments and complaints system has been in operation in my Department since 2002. All such complaints received from members of the public are processed under this system whish is monitored centrally. The number of complaints registered for the years 2005, 2006, and to date in 2007, was 95, 104, and 138 respectively.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

252 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30218/07]

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following table. With regard to Internet Advertising, my Department has its own website www.welfare.ie and any advertising campaigns being conducted by my Department are publicised on that site.

Appendix: Advertising Expenditure 2002-2007

Advertising Expenditure

Total

Print

Television

Radio

Other

2002

1,319,000

982,000

127,000

79,000

131,000

2003

287,000

259,000

NIL

6,000

22,000

2004

475,000

191,000

57,000

196,000

31,000

2005

300,000

240,000

NIL

NIL

60,000

2006

997,000

460,000

195,000

128,000

214,000

2007 to date

1,402,000

747,000

185,000

249,000

221,000

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

253 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30232/07]

A key commitment by my Department, as outlined in its business plans, is that the business of the organisation be carried out having regard to principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. To this end, the Management Services Unit (MSU) within my Department is providing specialist development for staff to analyse business processes; seek ways to streamline and improve those processes; determine resource requirements; and measure and report on likely savings.

The Unit employs a two-stage approach to this work. In the first instance, a process improvement exercise is undertaken within a specific business area. This involves the use of a number of process improvement techniques in a consultative approach with both staff and management in the business area. All suggestions which are expected to lead to improved processes and efficiency savings are documented and an implementation plan is agreed with management. Once the improvements have been implemented, an internationally recognised work measurement methodology, Administrative Productivity Training (APT), is then used to measure the improved processes within that business area. The APT system facilitates my Department in determining realistic and consistent resourcing requirements.

This year alone, the Unit has undertaken a study of resource requirements in each of the 59 Local Offices across the country, as well as engaging in extensive projects in both the Carers and Family Income Supplement (FIS) areas in its Longford office and more recently, in the Child Benefit Office in Letterkenny. The Unit has also played a significant role in the successful decentralisation of a number of business areas under Phase 1 of the Decentralisation Programme.

My Department has also made good progress under the Government's Value for Money and Policy Review (VFMPR) Initiative. Currently reviews in my Department's Information Services and Disability Allowance are in progress and are expected to be completed in 2008.

Forum on Philanthropy.

David Stanton

Ceist:

254 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when the Forum on Philanthropy was established; the membership of same; the number of times the forum meets; the reports it has made to Government since its establishment; the recommendations of same; the action taken as a result of these reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30331/07]

The Forum on Philanthropy was established by Government decision in May 2006. The decision set down membership of the Forum and Terms of Reference for its work. The Forum comprises representations from Philanthropy Ireland, Atlantic Philanthropies, Community Foundation for Ireland, Charles Stuart Mott Foundation, The ONE Foundation, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Taoiseach (Chair), Department of Finance and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

The Terms of Reference are as follows:—

facilitating dialogue between the public sector and those involved in, or promoting, philanthropy

improving access to contacts across public bodies on information on opportunities for philanthropy,

increasing understanding among funders public and private of the non-profit sector,

exploring ways of influencing wealth advisors so that they include philanthropy as a worthy and desirable option to their clients

other means that may emerge.

Including next week's meeting the Forum will have met on five occasions. The discussions have been wide ranging on philanthropic issues. It is anticipated that the Forum will report to Government in the earlier part of 2008.

Departmental Bodies.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

255 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the budgets of the boards, bodies, authorities, agencies and quangos under the remit of his Department since 1997 to date in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30102/07]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to question 299 of 17th October 2007.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

256 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if any of his Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30168/07]

No advisor in my Department has declared a conflict of interest in the last five years.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

257 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the private consultancy firms his Department and the agencies which report to his Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to his Department or agency of each engagement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30182/07]

My Department has made available on its website details regarding consultancies (excepting those of minor value, i.e., less than €5,000 excluding VAT) relating to the period since its establishment in June 2002 up to the end of September 2007. The relevant link, which will take the Deputy directly to these details, including the information sought by him, in relation to expenditure by my Department is: www.pobail.ie/en/CorporateSupportServices/ Finance/Consultancies. For the Deputy’s convenience, I have arranged for a copy of the material in question to be sent directly to him at his Oireachtas e-mail address. The Deputy will appreciate that the appointment of consultants by bodies/agencies that report to my Department is a day-to-day operational matter for the chief executive officers of those organisations. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive officers to provide the relevant information directly to the Deputy.

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

258 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of complaints received by his Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30196/07]

My Department's Customer Charter sets out the standard of service that customers may expect from the Department. This Customer Charter and the Department's Strategy for Enhanced Customer Service 2004 – 2007 is available on the Departmental website www.pobail.ie

A complaint in the context of our Customer Charter is where a customer is not satisfied with the standard of service we provide in the areas of courtesy, attitude, facilities, ease of access, quality, speed, delays in provision of service, in telephone answering, replying to letters. I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has received no complaints from the public in this regard for 2005, 2006 & 2007.

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

259 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount his Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30210/07]

As the Deputy may be aware, Brindley Advertising holds the Government contract for advertising in the print media (mainly for statutory and official notifications). Advertising is normally placed in the national papers and also regional newspapers and specialised journals, as appropriate.

The amounts spent on Brindley Advertising, television, radio advertising and internet media/promotional video are outlined in the following table.

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007 to date

Brindley Advertising

829,528

244,558

362,552

249,027

299,108

160,907

Television Advertising & Promotional

235,917

418,870

Radio Advertising

501

885

Internet Media/ Promotional Video

13,000

In addition, the Department paid €78,500 in 2006 towards the international marketing campaign for the Offshore Islands.

Departmental Expenditure.

Damien English

Ceist:

260 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department has carried out an efficiency savings analysis with a view to cutting out unnecessary costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30224/07]

Since the establishment of my Department in 2002, a number of mechanisms have been put in place in order to ensure that appropriate analysis is carried out in relation to programmes of expenditure and to achieve, inter alia, the elimination of any unnecessary costs.

Value for Money (VFM)/Policy Review Initiatives have been either carried out or are in progress in relation to a number of significant programme areas. These include

Improvement Schemes in the Gaeltacht;

the Capital Programme for Islands;

Ciste na Gaeilge;

the Drugs Initiative;

the Local Development Social Improvement Programme;

Leveraged Funding Schemes under CLÁR and RAPID; and

the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund.

In relation to administrative expenditure, the Internal Audit Unit of my Department has carried out a range of VFM reviews and has made provision for further such reviews in 2008 and 2009.

A Corporate Procurement Plan has been completed in my Department, incorporating an analysis of expenditure and recommendations for further development and streamlining of the procurement function.

My Department has a number of reporting, monitoring and oversight structures in place to facilitate the VFM process and indeed to support the other evaluation and assessment mechanisms that it has in place. These include MAC, the Senior Financial Management Group, the independent Audit Committee, the VFM Joint Steering Group, the Expenditure Committee and the Risk Management Steering Committee.

Overall, I believe that there is a strong evaluation culture in my Department, which extends to both programme and administrative expenditure.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

261 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved for a Gaeltacht house grant in view of the fact that they are a fluent Irish speaker. [30255/07]

It is a statutory condition under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts that grants may not be made except to occupiers of dwelling houses in which the Irish language is habitually used as the normal language of that household.

My Department is not satisfied that this statutory condition is fulfilled in the case referred to by the Deputy and accordingly a grant cannot be sanctioned under the Acts at this time.

However, the applicant in question, on the advice of my Department, has applied for a grant under Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge and if that is successful the housing grant application will be re-examined.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

262 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the level grant aid applied for under the farm improvement scheme by the sheep sector. [30030/07]

Under the Farm Improvement Scheme, grant-aid was available at a standard grant-rate of 40% up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €120,000 for sheep housing, sheep dipping tanks, specialized sheep spraying equipment, fencing, sheep handling units and related facilities.

12,675 grant applications were received from farmers under the Scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007. These applications are currently being processed within my Department and it is not possible at this stage to provide a final figure as to the financial commitment, in terms of grant-aid, represented by the sheep sector in these applications.

Registration of Title.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

263 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a schedule will be completed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [30064/07]

This matter is a very complex case concerning title discrepancies on a re-arrangement scheme drawn up by the former Land Commission. It involves the perfection of title of 94 individual plots of land and 6 different owners. All necessary steps are being taken with a view to completing the amended Schedule, which is required for lodgment in the Property Registration Authority to enable registrations to be completed. There is a large amount of work required to be completed by my staff to rectify the problems that have arisen on the ground and this remedial work will be done as quickly as possible.

Grant Payments.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

264 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive their area based payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30122/07]

My Department has no record of receiving an application form in respect of the 2007 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme from the person named.

Conflicts of Interest.

Damien English

Ceist:

265 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if any of her Department’s advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30165/07]

None of my Department's advisers have declared a conflict of interest in the past five years.

Consultancy Contracts.

Damien English

Ceist:

266 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the private consultancy firms her Department and the agencies which report to her Department used to date in 2007; the projects each worked on; the cost to her Department or agency of each engagement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30179/07]

Details of consultancy firms used by my Department in 2007 is set out in the following table. The provision of a service by an external resource, due to lack of internal skills or resources is treated as contracting or outsourcing and is not included in these figures. With regard to State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, the use of consultants by these bodies is a matter for the bodies themselves and the Deputy should request the information directly from them.

Consultant

Project

Payment in 2007

Institute of Forest Ecosystem Research

National Forest Inventory for 2007

47,284

UCD Forestry Department

National Forest Inventory for 2007

3,200

Dr. Gerhardt Gallagher (Consultant)

National Forest Inventory for 2007

3,086

John McCarthy (Ag. Consultant)

Milk Quota Exchange (Trading Scheme)

532

John McCarthy (Ag. Consultant)

Superlevy Spreadsheet

2,662

John Malone Consulting Ltd

Sheep Strategy Implementation Group

25,000 (Est.)

Royal Haskoning – Consulting Engineers,

Greencastle Harbour Development: Stage 2

1,153,234 (Cost to Date)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Killybegs Harbour Development: Stage 3 including Site Supervision

2,410,222 (Cost to Date)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Dunmore East Harbour Development – Phase 2 Detailed Design.

678,332 (Contract value)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Dunmore East Harbour Development – Repair to East Pier Phase 2.

81,675 (Contract value)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Dunmore East Harbour: Sedimentation/dredging study of the existing harbour.

6,620 (Contract value)

Compass Informatics Limited

Development of Website for PRISM Project.

168,190 (Contract value)

Marine Modelling Centre

Support and maintenance of Hydrodynamic Models for PRISM Project

46,100 (Cost to Date)

Marine Modelling Centre

Technical review of Hydrodynamic Models developed under National Coastal Protection Strategy Study

10,500 (Contract value)

Philip Lee Solicitors

Advice on public procurement

6,050 (Contract value)

Mott McDonald Pettit Ltd

Rossaveel Harbour Development

804,673 (Cost to Date)

Ryan Hanley Consulting Engineers

Rossaveel Harbour Gear Store

65,430 (Cost to Date)

Mott MacDonald Pettit Ltd. Consulting Engineers

Castletownbere Harbour Development

3,051,727 (Cost to Date)

Jacobs UK Ltd. Consulting Engineers

Castletownbere Harbour Development :Contract Supervision

325,240 (Cost to Date)

W.S. Atkins Ireland Ltd. Consulting Engineers

Castletownbere Harbour Effluent Treatment Upgrade

162,889 (Cost to Date)

RPS Consulting Engineers

Dingle Harbour Dredging Studies

80,271 (Contract value)

Blom Aerofilms Ltd,

Airborne Laser Coastal Survey Ireland – Phase 1

492,349 (Contract value)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Airborne Laser Coastal Survey Ireland – Phase 2, Tender Assessment

8,992 (Contract value)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Coastal Protection Strategy Study – Extended Phase 2

31,158 (Contract value)

RPS -Consulting Engineers,

Coastal Protection Strategy Study – Phase 3

446,626 (Contract value)

ERA Maptec Ltd,

South East Coast DTM Update

8,743 (Contract value)

Compass Informatics Limited

Provision of GIS Services

80,668 (Contract value)

Reencon Development Services

Coastal Protection Strategy Study – Topographic Survey

15,127 (Contract value)

Raymond Burke Consulting and McIver Consulting

Preparation of a 5 Year Business plan for the six Fishery Harbour Centres

118,005 (Contract value)

Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd

Preparation of a Cost Benefit Analysis in respect of a proposed development at Dunmore East Fishery Harbour Centre.

14,850 (Contract value)

Configure Ltd

Preparation of a disability Access report for the 6 Fishery Harbour Centres as well as recommendations on an Implementation Plan.

19,965 (Contract value)

Vantage Resources

Forestry on-line applications

20,421

Resources Global Consultancy

Integrated Forestry System (IFORIS)

9,196

Achilles Procurement Services

Single Payment Scheme

2,240

Indecon International Economic Consultants

Implementation of EU Re-structuring of Irish Sugar Industry

154,670

Farrell Grant Sparks

Review of Organisational Structure of the Department

108,900

Surepath Solutions

Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor

2,986

Wright Environmental

Quality of Lighting

726

Elmah Sweetman

Ergonomic Assessment

300

Occupational Physiotherapy Solutions

Ergonomic Assessment

303

Achilles Procurement Services

Preparation of the Request for Tender for the Provision of Equality and Diversity Training in the Department

1,072

Complaints Procedures.

Damien English

Ceist:

267 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of complaints received by her Department in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 by members of the public; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30193/07]

The number of complaints received by the Quality Customer Service Unit through the formal Customer Complaints Procedure in 2005, 2006 and to date in 2007 is as follows:

Year

2005

10

2006

14

2007

7

Departmental Advertising.

Damien English

Ceist:

268 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount her Department spent on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since 2002; and the amount that was spent on television, radio, print media and internet media in tabular readable form. [30207/07]

Mary Coughlan