Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ministers of State.

Tuesday, 14 March 1978

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 304 No. 9

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19.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  asked the Minister for the Public Service if he will state (a) in respect of each Minister of State who was formerly a Parliamentary Secretary, the precise nature of the wider and heavier responsibilities assigned to him or her by comparison with his or her responsibilities as Parliamentary Secretary, as promised by him in his Dáil speech of 2 November 1977; and (b) in respect of each Minister of State who was not formerly a Parliamentary Secretary, the precise nature of the functions assigned to him.

20.

Mr. Boland: Information on John Boland  Zoom on John Boland  asked the Minister for the Public Service if he will outline the specific areas of responsibility assigned to each Minister of State.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 20 together.

The responsibilities of Ministers of State, like those of Parliamentary Secretaries before 1 January last, are of two kinds: first, the provision of general support and assistance to Ministers of the Government through making public appearances, receiving and considering representations, considering policy alternatives and directing departmental business, attending to Parliamentary business and participating in international affairs: second, the discharge of statutory functions of Ministers of the Government delegated to them under the Ministers and Secretaries Acts. In the first category of responsibilities, Ministers of State are [1403] being required by the appropriate Ministers of the Government to undertake a greater degree of responsibility than that considered appropriate to a Parliamentary Secretary. In the second category, a review of the statutory responsibilities of each Minister of the Government is necessary before the delegations of statutory functions are made by order by the Government. As a result of this review so far, the Government have already by order assigned [1404] extra statutory functions to the Minister of State at the Department of Defence and further statutory functions will be assigned to other Ministers of State as the review proceeds. The information on the specific responsibilities of the Ministers of State is set out in a tabular statement which I propose, with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle, to circulate for inclusion in the Official Report.

Following is the statement:

Minister of State and Department Areas of Responsibility
Mr. J. Tunney:
Education (i) General support to the Minister for Education.
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Institutions of Science and Art
—Youth and Sport etc.
—Special Schools and School Transport.
Mr. P. Wyse:
Finance (i) General support to the Minister for Finance.
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Office of Public Works
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn:
Industry, Commerce and Energy (1) (i) General support to the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy.
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Consumer Affairs
—Restrictive Practices
—Company Law and Companies Registration Office
—Weights and Measures
—Minor aspects of price control closely related to consumer protection.
(iii) EEC work related to the matters in (ii).
Mr. R. Burke:
Industry, Commerce and Energy (2) (i) General support to the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy.
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Trade (including foreign trade, trade regulation, dumping, general EEC matters), GATT and other international organisations
—Insurance.
—Patents and Trade Marks
—Irish Goods Council.
(iii) EEC work related to the matters in (ii).
Mr. D. Andrews
Foreign Affairs (i) General support to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Cultural Affairs
[1405][1406] —Scholarship Exchange Board
—Legal Affairs
—Council of Europe
—Aspects of Development Assistance
—Liaison with European Parliament (including Direct Elections).
Mr. T. Hussey:
Agriculture (i) General support to the Minister for Agriculture.
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Disadvantaged Areas and other schemes
—Wool and Drainage Programme in the West which is to be partly financed by EEC.
Mr. T. Fitzpatrick
(a) Tourism and Transport General support to the Minister for Tourism and Transport.
(b) Posts and Telegraphs (i) General support to the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.
(ii) The statutory powers of the Minister under the following Acts have been delegated by Order:—
—Post Office Acts 1908-1969
—Radio Telegraphy Acts 1926-1972
—Telegraph Act 1885
—Post Office Parcels Act 1882
—Post Office Savings Bank Acts 1861-1958
—Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 and 1958
—Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956
—Civil Service (Employment of Married Women) Act, 1973
—Finance Act 1942
—Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924-1977
Responsibility for the following non-statutory functions has also been assigned: computerisation, building and supplies.
Other responsibilities of a general nature relating to telecommunication and postal services.
Mr. P.J. Lalor:
(a) Taoiseach (i) General support to the Taoiseach.
(ii) Government Chief Whip
(b) Defence (i) General support to the Minister for Defence.
(ii) Member of Council of Defence
—The statutory powers and duties of the Minister for Defence regarding Civil Defence have been delegated by Order.
Mr. J. O'Leary:
Department of the Environment
(i) General support to the Minister for the Environment
(ii) Responsibilities in relation to
—Monitoring of progress with job creation programmes
—Reviews of Building and Construction industry
—House construction guarantee
[1407][1408] —Physical planning and development
—Computer services
—Local authority superannuation
—Traffic control (including EEC aspects)
—Road safety
—Driver and vehicle control (including EEC aspects)
—Group water schemes
—Water safety
—Audit Service
—Combined purchasing
—Foras Forbartha.
Mr. R. Mac Sharry:
Department of the Public Service (i) General support to the Minister for the Public Service.
(ii) Order delegating certain statutory powers being prepared.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I am somewhat at a disadvantage because I do not know what the tabular statement contains. Will the Minister state if it contains enough material to enable the House or anyone outside it to make a comparison between what the Minister for Finance called the “wider and heavier responsibilities” now assigned to these Ministers of State and the duties previously assigned to the Parliamentary Secretaries, which seven of the ten Deputies once were? Will it enable that comparison to be made so that we may see what are the “heavier and wider responsibilities”?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I am sure if the Deputy wishes he will be able to make such a comparison.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  That is not what I asked. Will the material in the tabular statement disclose such a comparison so that people may see the difference?

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The tabular statement includes the functions and responsibilities of every Minister of State in their Departments.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  Will it also include the functions that were exercised before the promotion and before the operation of the Bill which abolished the title of Parliamentary Secretary? Will it enable someone to see, for example in the case——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  It is not usual to ask questions about a tabular statement which the Deputy will have an opportunity of seeing.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The area of responsibility for each Minister of State is disclosed in the statement.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I want to know about Parliamentary Secretaries. Will there be a description of the functions and duties of the Parliamentary Secretaries?

Mr. Molloy: Information on Robert Molloy  Zoom on Robert Molloy  The Deputy should wait until he gets the tabular statement.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  The Minister has nodded, meaning there will not be.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Minister is trying to avoid the question.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I have stated that the area of responsibility for each Minister of State is disclosed in the statement. The Deputy is well aware that the Ministers of State are performing duties with a greater degree of responsibility than was the case with Parliamentary Secretaries.

[1409]Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I wanted to know——

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  Will the Deputy allow me to reply to his questions?

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Minister is not replying.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The Deputy is continually on his feet. For the past three weeks this Deputy has been continually on his feet at Question Time and it has been possible to answer only 15 or 16 questions each day.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I must apologise for exercising my right to put questions. I suppose I can only do it by leave of Fianna Fáil in the future.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  We will not have an argument across the floor of the House. This seems to be persisting.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  This is a very strange attitude for the Minister of State, Deputy MacSharry.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I suppose we should apologise for being here at all.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  I gave the reply as requested.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  I asked about the previous duties of Parliamentary Secretaries. I want to know, yes or no, if the tabular statement contains a clear distinction between those duties and the new duties of the Minister of State.

Mr. MacSharry: Information on Raymond MacSharry  Zoom on Raymond MacSharry  The tabular statement includes the area of responsibility of each Minister of State.

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Minister is like Izvestia. I asked the question four times but we still do not know.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Will the Minister tell the House whether the Government made a decision to delegate certain powers to the Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and if those powers have been exercised?

[1410]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  That is a separate question. I am calling Question No. 21.


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