Dentists' Bill, 1984 [Seanad]: Committee Stage.

Thursday, 21 March 1985

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 357 No. 2

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Section 1 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 2 stand part of the Bill.”

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  As regards the definition of practice of dentistry this could give rise to some difficulties later in the Bill. There are other sections which would conflict with it. The definition is given as:

...includes the performance of any operation or the giving of any treatment, advice or attendance on or to any person preparatory to, for the purpose of, or in connection with, the [406] fitting, insertion, or fixing of artificial teeth.

One cannot insert artificial teeth into someone's mouth unless one is a dentist. That is what the practice of dentistry means under this section. When we deal with section 51——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  We are on section 2 at present.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I am speaking about it because the practice of dentistry comes into sections 51 and 53. The Minister will refer back to this definition of the practice of dentistry when we are dealing with other sections. A person cannot take a tooth into his hand unless he is a dentist. I ask the Minister to look at that definition and change it to “treatment on living tissue” which is what the practice of dentistry really means.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Donnellan): Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  In section 51 there are certain provisions which may go part of the way to meet what Deputy Mac Giolla is referring to.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I am aware of that. That is why I am raising the matter. Later on the Bill provides for who may practise dentistry. It goes on to say that in spite of all the provisions in this Bill somebody else can still do something else which will not be in accordance with the practice of dentistry. Why put it in at all? It will cause enormous legal difficulties at a later stage. In sections 51 and 53 the Minister is saying things like “in spite of any provisions in this Bill”, or something like that, something else can happen. From the beginning can the Minister not restrict the practice of dentistry to what it actually is, work on living tissue.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I propose that section 2 should remain as it is.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Is section 2 agreed to?

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I am agreeing to [407] nothing. It is unfortunate that the Minister does not seem to know what the problems will be if we are to have this sort of thing without any explanation.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  This Bill was examined in detail in the Seanad. Deputy Mac Giolla is quite entitled to make any point he wants to make. His interpretation differs somewhat from ours. If he is not satisfied with the section the only thing he can do is oppose it.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Is the Minister now telling us that because great explanations were given in the Seanad he does not have to give us the same explanations? We do not know what happened in the Seanad.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  In section 2 we have definitions of various phrases and expressions which occur repeatedly throughout the Bill. Deputy Mac Giolla has referred to other sections in the Bill which have nothing to do with section 2.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  The practice of dentistry is referred to in them. We are talking about the practice of dentistry.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 3 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 4 stand part of the Bill.”

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Due to the fact that the Minister has already extended the date of the life of the present Dental Board to November, can I take it that this council will be established before November?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I hope so.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Is that a real hope?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  If it does not come into operation before November an order will [408] have to be made in the House to prolong the life of the present Dental Board. It will come into operation.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I am not sure that will be a good idea. The fact that the life of the board has been extended until November is quite sufficient. I urge the Minister of State to urge the Minister that the Dental Council be established before November.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  We anticipate that it will be in operation well before November.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 5 to 8 inclusive, agreed to.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, to delete subsection (1) and substitute the following:—

“(1) The Council shall consist of 19 members appointed in the following manner, that is to say—

(a) one person appointed by each of the following bodies—

(i) University College Cork,

(ii) the University of Dublin;

(b) one person appointed by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland;

(c) five fully registered dentists resident in the State appointed by election by fully registered dentists;

(d) two persons appointed by the Medical Council;

(e) one person appointed by the Minister for Education;

(f) four representatives of auxiliary dental workers nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, two [409] of whom shall be dental technicians, and two dental nurses;

(g) four persons appointed by the Minister, at least two of whom—

(i) shall not be registered dentists, and

(ii) shall, in the opinion of the Minister, after consultation with the Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism, represent the interests of the general public as consumers of dental services.”.

This section deals with the membership of the council and provides that the council shall consist of 19 members. Paragraph (a) refers to two persons appointed by each of the following bodies: University College Cork and the University of Dublin. Our amendment proposes that one person should be appointed by each of those bodies. Paragraph (c) provides for seven fully registered dentists resident in the State appointed by election by fully registered dentists. We propose that that should be altered to five fully registered dentists resident in the State. We suggest that those four appointments should be filled by four representatives of auxiliary dental workers nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, two of whom shall be dental technicians, and two dental nurses.

Dental technicians and dental nurses should be represented on the council because their jobs, their livelihood, their method of work and their wages will be decided on by this council. Further on in the Bill there is a section setting up a committee to deal with dental technicians and dental nurses. There are many more of them than there are dentists. We propose that they should have representation on the council. They will not be able to nominate the council. The Minister will be appointing four persons at least two of whom shall not be registered dentists. The other 17 could be registered dentists and dentists will have a majority on the council.

There is no question of two representatives of the dental technicians and two [410] representatives of the dental nurses having a major influence on the council. It is important that they should have an input. They could inform the council of what was happening in their area and what might create difficulties so that there would not be a question of confrontation arising. The committee structure would work much more closely with the council if they had representatives on the council. I am asking the Minister to accept this amendment. I am not suggesting an increase in the membership of the council. If the Minister likes he can increase the figure of 19 by four to meet our amendment. To keep the number at 19 I am eliminating two from the universities and two from the election procedure and I am asking that those four should be representatives of dental technicians and nurses. I am asking the Minister if he would accept representation from these people who are working closely with dentists but in a separate occupation or profession.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  In regard to the overall make-up of the council, the level of representation between the educational, working profession and Minister's appointees was arrived at after very careful consideration in order to give a balanced representation to the various interests involved in the profession of dentistry. To give only one nominee to each of University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin, would not afford due recognition and representation to the two dental schools involved in the education and training of dentists. The Minister is not prepared to reduce the representation given to the universities in the Bill.

With regard to elected members of the dental profession, seven places are allocated to them on the new council, which represents a considerable reductionpro rata on the representation they enjoy on the existing dental board. They have five of the nine places on the dental board, giving them an absolute majority as at the moment. Seven places are allocated to them on the new council which will not give them a majority, but will make them the biggest single group on the council. [411] Considering that the working dentists form by far the greatest number of dentists in the State, seven places are by no means excessive. It must be remembered that more specific provision is being made for representation for dentists in the health board service on the council and that the seven places given over to elected dentists have to include this group also. In the circumstances, the Minister is not prepared to reduce the level of representation for elected dentists provided for in the Bill.

Then again, no provision has been made for representation on the dental council itself for auxiliary dental workers. There is no provision under section 13 of the Bill because they are being represented on the specific committees of the council that will deal with auxiliary dental workers. It must also be remembered that this representation will be only for classes of registered auxiliary dental workers established under the provisions of the Bill. Naturally enough, no such classes exist at present. Even if auxiliary dental workers were to be represented, that their nomination should be a matter for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions would hardly be acceptable considering that in the case of technicians only a very small number are members of trade unions and in the case of dental nurses it is thought that less than half would not have union affiliation. In the circumstances, the Minister is not prepared to make provision for representation on the dental council of dental technicians and dental nurses. However it should be noted that under section 9 (2) of the Bill the composition of the dental council can be varied at some future time. The possibility cannot be ruled out that registered auxiliary dental workers may be represented on the council at some time in the future. Indeed, in the case of the Minister's appointees on to the council, in all probability he will include a representative of auxiliary dental workers among his four nominees.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  How could the Minister of State justify stating that [412] in all probability the Minister for Health would include, as one of his representatives, a representative of the auxiliary dental personnel? They are not consumers of the services as I understand by section 9 (1) (g) (ii). It states specifically there that they should represent the interests of the general public as consumers of dental services. I cannot understand why the Minister would make the last comment that an auxiliary dental mechanic or a denturist would represent consumers of dental services. Surely they are providing the services rather than consuming it?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  Only two are representing the consumers.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  The Minister of State means that two of the Minister for Health's representatives are to be consumers?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  That is right.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I cannot understand the Minister's interpretation of that last paragraph. It mentions four persons, at least two of whom shall not be registered dentists and shall represent the interests of the consumers. Who are the other two to represent? Is the Minister trying to get away with something here by indicating that something could happen which is definitely not going to happen? To say that the dentists were in a majority under the old Bill and are not going to have a majority in this Bill is absolute nonsense. Who are the universities going to appoint — teachers or engineers or something like that? They are going to appoint dentists, of course — those in the dental teaching area. Who are the Royal College of Surgeons going to appoint? Surgeons or professional people in the medical area, and they are certainly not going to be opposed to the dentists on the board. The two persons appointed by the medical council could well be doctors working in the same general area. Who is the Minister for Education to appoint? Somebody again in the dental hospital, or in the dental education area, presumably. [413] It is a dental board and dentists will be the vast majority on the council and are going to run the show. I am not asking that that be changed. Anybody else will say to them “Well, whatever you think. All right, I shall state my point of view, but I know that you are in charge”. I am asking that other people have an input as well as the Minister for Education, University College Cork, Dublin University and the Royal College of Surgeons — somebody working in the area of dentistry.

The Minister is now saying that they are not organised in trade unions. That is a very good point, indeed. Not alone are they not organised in trade unions, but they do not have a job description. They are not even dental nurses or dental assistants. In many cases they are receptionists who are gradually told to do this job and that job, untrained, working with X-rays and mercury and toxic materials about which they know nothing. No wonder they are not in trade unions. If they attempted to do anything like that they would lose their jobs and we would be running out of dentists. They would be running around trying to get another job.

In the public service they are organised in trade unions and generally lay down the standards and speak for dental assistants and dental nurses and so on. I ask the Minister again if he does not accept two of each of those four representatives, would he accept that there be two representatives, one from the dental nurses and one from the dental technician area? It is going to create confrontation if they are not represented and are not able to put their input into the council from the beginning. This is a very reasonable request.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  As I already stated in a long reply to the Deputy, we feel that the composition of the council as clearly laid down here in the Bill is possibly the best composition. I am sure Deputy Mac Giolla would not suggest either to University College Cork, University College Dublin or the Royal College of Surgeons [414] and indeed to the Medical Council or the Minister for Education that he should indicate to them whom they should appoint. These are bodies which I am quite convinced are well capable of appointing suitable people on to this 19 member council.

A point was made in the Seanad that the number of the council should be increased to 23 when one considers that the Dental Board representation was made up of nine members and this is a 19 member council. One could take that to its logical conclusion and include representatives of any profession one saw fit and make the council particularly large. We think a 19 member council is quite sufficient.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  These are working in the area. They are young people assisting dentists.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  Some of the people to whom the Deputy has referred have no recognised qualification but under this Bill it is possible that they will have a recognised qualification.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  They never will, that is the problem.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Is Deputy Mac Giolla pressing the amendment?

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Yes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  I am putting the question: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Votáil.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Will the Deputies supporting the call for a division please rise in their places.

Deputy Mac Giolla rose.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  As fewer than ten Members have risen in their places, in accordance with Standing Orders I declare the question carried. Deputy Mac Giolla's name will be [415] recorded in the Journal of the proceedings of the House as dissenting.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Question proposed: “That section 9 stand part of the Bill”.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Subsection (1) paragraphs (e) and (f) gives power to the Government to appoint, through the Minister for Education and the Minister for Health, five persons. Might I ask the Minister of State is there any standard procedure by which these persons will be chosen?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I am quite sure the Minister for Education is well capable of making such appointments. There is no such thing as a standard procedure. The Minister for Education is quite capable of appointing a qualified person. I am sure the Deputy has no doubt about the ability of the Minister for Health to appoint people.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I do not think it is helpful for the Minister of State to appear to become aggressive all of a sudden. In all our interests it is better if we can be reasonable about the Bill. However, knowing the Minister of State in my constituency I can appreciate his aggressiveness.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I apologise to the Deputy if she thought I was being aggressive.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  What I want to ensure is that, while the Government have the power to appoint five persons, they should be truly representative of consumers or whoever. I should like to know what percentage the Minister might have in mind of those who should be female appointees?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I apologise to Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn if she thought I was [416] being aggressive. My aggression on this occasion is very limited, as she would know if she saw me when I was aggressive.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I am used to the Minister of State.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The Minister for Education, if possible, may have a female appointee. It is possible also in the case of the Minister for Health that four women may be appointed. I am delighted to note the new found interest being shown by Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn in women's affairs because opportunity presented itself in this House and on committees of the House for her to express an opinion on many things like that when she seemed to be lacking——

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I resent that.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Is the Minister going to recommend it or is he not?

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  First of all, we did deviate somewhat from the Bill before us. In defence of Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, I should say she is doing an excellent job as chairperson of the Women's Rights Committee.

I should like to ask the Minister what is the need for subsection (2) which reads:

The Minister may, by regulations made after consultation with the Council, very the provisions of subsection (1) of this section.

In other words, it gives the Minister power to very the composition of the board. I should prefer not to see that written into legislation. If it is necessary for any reason to change the composition of the board I would prefer that the Minister of the day would come into the House with amending legislation. I cannot see any reason for its being written into this Bill.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The main reason for its being there is that the Minister, as a result of being aware of the workings [417] of the board, if he thought that certain changes were necessary would effect such changes.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Why not bring in amending legislation?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  We did not figure it was necessary to have amending legislation.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 10 and 11 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 12 stand part of the Bill”.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Can the Minister of State tell us when the Minister would intend to call the first meeting of the council after the elections? Is there a specified date, or can the Minister allow it to drift on for a long period of time?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  No, there is no such thing as a specified date. But, as has already been raised by Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, the existing board continues until November 1985. We hope that the new council will be in operation before that.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on John J. Ryan  Zoom on John J. Ryan  Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 in the names of Deputies Mac Giolla and De Rossa are related. By agreement they can be discussed together.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I move amendment No. 2:

In page 10, subsection (7) (a), line 3, to delete “a person” and substitute “two persons”.

Subsection (7) (a) reads:

The committee established under subsection (2) (c) of this section shall [418] include the person appointed to the Council pursuant to section 9 (1) (e) of this Act and a person representative of each class of auxiliary dental worker established under a scheme made by the Council under section 53 of this Act.

I am asking that “a person” be altered to “two persons”.

In amendment No. 3, I am seeking the insertion of a new subsection between paragraphs (a) and (b), reading:

In page 10, subsection (7), between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following paragraph:

“(b) the majority of the members of such committee shall be drawn from among the category of auxiliary workers concerned.”.

Section 13 is a fairly long section relating to committees to be established by the council to carry out functions which in the opinion of the council may be more conveniently performed by a committee. Presumably there is no limit to the number of these. Without prejudice to the generality of the subsection it recommends three areas where a committee can be established. One is a committee to act in relation to auxiliary dental workers under Part VII of the Act. Those two amendments are to ensure that auxiliary workers will have a stronger representation on these committees.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  There is specific provision for one representative of each class of auxiliary dental worker being included on the auxiliary dental workers' committee of the Dental Council, that is to say that every class of auxiliary dental worker established under the provisions of the Bill is limited to one representative on the committee. What is being provided is a voice on the committee to each class established. It is possible that quite a few classes will be established. To give two representatives to each class could lead to the committee becoming unwieldy. It is considered preferable to give one mandatory representative to each class and then, perhaps, dependent [419] on the number of workers in the different classes, to give extra representation where appropriate.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Can the Minister say how many classes of auxiliary dental workers there are, possibly could be, or in what areas are all of these classes of auxiliary dental workers?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  There may be a number of classes of auxiliary dental workers as a result——

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  First class, second class? What kinds of classes?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  One talks about dental technicians and people of that nature. What I am saying to the Deputy is——

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  What is the other one?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  At present there is no such thing as classes of auxiliary dental workers for the simple reason that there are no criteria laid down. But as a result of this new council, it is envisaged that a number of classes of auxiliary dental workers will be established.

The purpose of section 13 is to ensure that at least one representative of each established auxiliary worker would form part of a committee. If in the future the council should decide at any time that there is need for the inclusion of additional members it will be for them to have that change made.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  I am interested in this area but I am not getting the information from the Minister. Perhaps he needs to have more information, too. I should like to hear what classes of auxiliary dental worker there are. To my knowledge, while in Britain and in other countries there are different grades with different salaries, such as dental surgery assistant, dental hygienist, people involved in dental health education and in many other areas of dental care, that is not the case here. Is it the intention of [420] the Minister to specify grades of dental workers and corresponding pay scales?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  This will be a matter not for the Minister but for the council. I assume that included in the category of auxiliary dental worker would be dental technician, denturist, dental surgery assistant, dental hygienist and dental therapist.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  It would be a great idea that the council would determine workers in the dental area under these various headings and would determine the correponding pay scales but I cannot see any such provision in the Bill. May we take it that the passage of this Bill will ensure that the council will proceed in this way?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  No. It is envisaged that the five categories I have referred to would be established by the council, that these people would assist in many areas of dental care but that chiefly they would be of assistance to the dental profession.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Since I must be guided by the Minister on this I shall not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 13 stand part of the Bill.”

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On subsection (4) why can neither the president nor the vice-president of the council be the chairman of the fitness to practise committee while either could be chairman of the other committees?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  This is to preserve the concept of the impartiality of the council in the matter of considering reports from the committee.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Perhaps the Minister would elaborate on that and explain how it would interfere with the concept of [421] impartiality if the vice president of the council happened to be the chairman of the fitness to practise committee.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I have no reason for believing there would be any such interference. This is merely part of the Bill. We are doing our best to cover every possibility.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  What the Minister is saying is that he does not know the reason for the exclusion.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I am giving my opinion.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I have been watching the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and I notice that he agrees with my assessment.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  It would be helpful if the Minister knew what it was all about.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 14 and 15 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 16 stand part of the Bill.”

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Why is it necessary for two Ministers to have to give their approval to the appointment of a registrar? Presumably the council will be expected to be self-financing.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  This is normal procedure in this kind of legislation.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Does it apply in the case of the legislation dealing with nurses, for instance?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I do not know. I only know it applies in this case.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If, as the Minister says, this is normal procedure, I would expect it to apply in all similar legislation.

[422]Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  There are provisions in many other Acts that are similar to the provisions of this Bill but the Deputy would not have been involved in the Committee Stage of some of that other legislation.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  During the debate on the Nurses Bill, there were many instances in which this same kind of answer was trotted out, that is, that because certain provisions were in other legislation, they were necessary also in that legislation. Even if there is a similar provision in other Acts to the provision we are talking of, can the Minister explain the necessity for the approval of two Ministers to the appointment of the registrar?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The Minister for the Public Service must sanction the employment of additional people within the public service.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Is it not the case that the provision is being included here because the ministries concerned involve members of two different parties.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  Not so long ago the Deputy's party were in Government and that Government comprised not one but a number of political parties.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  In the case of the Nurses Bill, the chief executive officer would fulfil a role similar to that of the registrar. The CEO is appointed by the board and holds office under such terms and conditions and shall perform such duties as the board with the consent of the Minister from time to time determines. Here we have a situation where the registrar cannot even be appointed without first the approval of the Minister for Health and then the approval of the Minister for the Public Service. What is the reason for that? It would hardly be included unless there was some logical explanation for it. Obviously such provision is not normal in legislation of this kind because otherwise it would have been included in the Nurses Bill.

[423]Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  Basically the provision is for the appointment of a registrar who will be the chief executive officer of the council. His conditions of service and his remuneration will be determined by the council with the approval of the Minister but subject to the consent of the Minister for the Public Service.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Why is it necessary to have the approval of the two Ministers for the appointment of a registrar to the Dental Council when in the case of An Bord Altranais it will not be necessary to have the approval of any Minister for the appointment of the CEO?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The Minister for the Public Service would be involved in the pay element while conditions of service would be determined by the council with the approval of the Minister for Health and subject to the consent of the Minister for the Public Service.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  By why is the approval of two Minister required in this legislation when in similar legislation the approval of only one Minister is required? If the Dental Council are to be self-financing why will it be necessary to have the approval of any Minister to the appointment of the registrar? Here we are being asked to give to both the Minister for the Public Service and the Minister for Health the authority to appoint a registrar to the Dental Council.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The Minister for the Public Service has to maintain control, particularly in relation to pay.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Why is it not in similar legislation?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  It is in the Dentists Bill. If the Deputy wishes to know why it is not in other legislation he should have asked the appropriate question at the time.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  The Minister of State is the appropriate Minister.

[424]Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The provision is necessary in this legislation. If the Deputy wishes to compare it with other legislation, I would point out that it was up to him at the time to ask the appropriate question. We say it is necessary here.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I cannot accept that. It was as a result of the Minister's reply to my first question that I raised the Nurses Bill because it was the Minister who told us the reason it is in this Bill is that it is normal in this kind of measure. Now I want to know why it is in this legislation but not in similar legislation. There must be some legitimate reason why such a provision did not appear in a Bill that was introduced and debated here in the past number of weeks. There must be something different with regard to the Nursing Council. The provision now appears in respect of the Dental Council and I should like to know the reason.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I cannot fully recollect what is in the Nurses Bill but I am of the opinion that the similar section in the Nurses Bill is no different to what is in this Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 17 stand part of the Bill”.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The same question arises here. Subsection (2) states:

An officer or servant of the Council shall hold his office or employment on such terms and conditions as the Council, with the approval of the Minister given with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service, from time to time determines.

If the council will be self-financing why is it necessary to have the approval of two Ministers?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The remuneration and conditions of service of such officers or servants shall be determined by the council with the approval of the Minister given with the consent of the Minister for the [425] Public Service. In the Nurses Bill we talked about the same point. The level of control, particularly in relation to the remuneration of officers of the Dental Council, has to be controlled by the Minister.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is there a similar section in the Nurses Bill, where it is necessary to have the consent of the Minister for the Public Service?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  Yes.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  The Minister is now misleading the House but I accept he is not doing it deliberately. I shall quote from section 17(3) of the Nurses Bill:

There shall be paid by the Board to its officers and servants other than the Chief Executive Officer out of funds at its disposal such remuneration and allowances as the Chief Executive Officer, with the consent of the Minister, from time to time determines.

There is no mention there that the approval of the Minister can be given only with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service. We are back again to the same subsection. While I appreciate that the Minister is not misleading the House deliberately, it is incorrect to say that the section is exactly the same as in the Nurses Bill. What Deputy O'Hanlon, Deputy Mac Giolla and I wish to find out is why all of a sudden we need to have the approval of the Minister for the Public Service for everything when we did not need it in the Nurses Bill.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  The Minister for the Public Service, representative of the Government, controls the level of pay in the public service.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Is the Minister saying that the chief executive officer, does not require the approval of the Minister for the Public Service but that [426] the registrar in this Bill does require that approval?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  That is true.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I wish to know why there is a difference. Do they not trust the registrar to the same extent as they might trust the chief executive officer?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  There is no question of a lack of trust. Whatever remuneration is paid has to be subject to the consent of the Minister for Health with the approval of the Minister for the Public Service.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  The Minister is not answering my question. The two sections in the Bills are identical, with the exception of those few words in the Dentists Bill where the consent of the Minister for the Public Service is required. Apparently it was not necessary to put that into the Nurses Bill. I wish to know what has happened in the meantime that it has become so urgent to have it included in the Dentists Bill.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  There is no urgency about it. The Department of the Public Service insisted this had to be part of the Bill.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Is the Minister saying that the Department of the Public Service only discovered this after the Nurses Bill went through and that that is why they did not insist on it in that Bill?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I do not know why the Deputy is trying to draw some parallel between this and the Nurses Bill.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It was the Minister who did that.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I fail to understand the point the Deputy is trying to make. The Deputy must be aware that the level of pay at any point in the Civil Service has to be governed by the Department of the [427] Public Service. If it was not the case, possibly problems could arise.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  I am not suggesting it should not be governed by the Department of the Public Service. I am trying to be helpful to the Minister of State and I should like him to be helpful in return. He was the person who said this provision was included in previous legislation and the nearest legislation to hand is the Nurses Bill in which we and the Minister were involved. We want to find out why it has now been found necessary to include the approval of the Minister for the Public Service in this Bill when in the Bill he mentioned himself it was not necessary to have that approval?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  It was necessary to have the wording as it is in this Bill. Of course, there may be an amendment to the Nurses Bill on Report Stage.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the Minister of State suggesting there will be an amendment in that case?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I said there may be. I left it wide open.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is even more important, now that there may be an amendment to the Nurses Bill, that we should know the reason. Is there an implication that the Minister for Health would not be trusted and that the Minister for the Public Service must be brought in to keep an eye on the Minister for Health, whoever he might be when this legislation is in operation?

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  Is the Deputy suggesting there is some problem between the Minister for Health and the Minister for the Public Service? The Minister for Health is the person who has control over this legislation. The Minister for the Public Service controls the level of pay with the consent of the Government.

Dr. O'Hanlon: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I was quite satisfied with this section when it appeared — a [428] similar section appeared in the Nurses Bill. I am satisfied the Minister for Health is competent to ensure that anything the registrar or the council might do would not be out of line with the public service generally. However, it appears the Government are not satisfied and now they are introducing the Minister for the Public Service to monitor what the Minister for Health is doing. It appears that is the reason why the provision is in this legislation. I do not see any need for it and I should like the Minister to give me some rational explanation as to why two Ministers are involved in this case when only one Minister is involved in similar legislation that passed through this House in the past month.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on John F. Donnellan  Zoom on John F. Donnellan  I have explained already to the Deputy the exact reason, namely, that the level of pay has to be determined by the Government who are represented by the Minister for the Public Service. I do not know if the Deputy accepts that explanation but he will get no further explanation from me.

Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Information on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Zoom on Máire Geoghegan-Quinn  Does the Minister accept that the level of remuneration and allowances in the case of the chief executive officer, which is the equivalent of the registrar in this Bill, also has to be decided by the Department of the Public Service or the Minister, as the case may be?

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.


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