I thank the Minister for his answer. I raised this issue with him on a number of occasions.
It would be useful to conduct an overall study of this. In the first year I got into the Dáil I asked about the relative cost of direct labour as against outsourcing to agencies, consultants or whatever. I submitted one question but got more than 50 answers - a considerable thick file spread over weeks. I would have to do the same again every year. It is difficult to get an overall picture of the value for money or otherwise from outsourcing.
However, the former Federated Union of Government Employees, FUGE, branch of IMPACT which deals with cleaners, porters, attendants, service officers, etc., has indicated to me that, for example, with the €2 million the Department of Social Protection spent on outsourcing cleaning work last year it could have directly employed 96 full-time cleaners, and that with the €1 million spent on private security which was outsourced instead of having directly employed service officers, the Department could have employed 70 service officers. This IMPACT branch contests that outsourcing in all Departments in its area covering such grades added up to approximately €16 million whereas the same number of staff could have been provided for €9 million - a difference of €6 million. In my own investigations, I have certainly found several examples. How representative these are is difficult to say for the reasons I mentioned but it looks as if it would be much cheaper to employ staff directly rather than outsource the work to agencies, consultants etc. Should we conduct a comprehensive overall study and analysis of this because we are looking for savings everywhere and workers would prefer, if they can make an argument that it provides value for money, for there to be directly employed secure employment rather than the more casual outsourced work which, obviously, is not as favourable to them?