Wednesday, 4 May 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
168. Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when she intends to publish legislation to refund nursing home over-payments; if the legislation will address the issue of charges in private nursing homes as well as public institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14109/05]
Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): A special Cabinet sub-committee comprising the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, the Attorney General, Mr. Brady, and I has been established to consider the issue of repayment in light of the Supreme Court judgment. Full details of a repayment scheme will be announced as soon as possible and it is the intention to make repayments as automatic as possible.
Persons who were in publicly contracted beds in private nursing homes are covered by the terms of the Supreme Court judgment. The Health (Nursing Homes) Act 1990 regulates the private nursing home sector. Under the nursing home subvention regulations the Health Service Executive makes a financial contribution to an individual towards the cost of his or her private nursing home care provided he or she qualifies on means and dependency grounds. The provisions of the Supreme Court judgment do not apply to individuals in private nursing homes who have entered these homes under the nursing home subvention scheme.
169. Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when she intends to publish legislation to facilitate the improvement of food labelling; the title of such legislation; the discussions her Department has had with the Department of Agriculture and Food on the issue; the details of such discussions and dates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14110/05]
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Mr. S. Power): Food labelling by its nature encompasses a particularly broad spectrum and in these circumstances officials in my Department are in regular communication with officials in other Departments and agencies to ensure a balanced and co-ordinated approach to labelling issues both at national and international level.
Consumers should be in a position to make food consumption choices which best suit their circumstances and preferences and an appropriate labelling system is a key element to enable this informed choice. In this regard the Deputy may note that I have recently signed a statutory instrument to effect the transposition of EU Directive 2003/89/EC which will facilitate a real improvement in food labelling. The new regulation abolishes the 25% compound ingredient listing exemption and makes it compulsory to list all ingredients in a food with the exception of a small number of particular cases. In addition, from 25 November next it will be compulsory to list on the labelling specified allergens whenever they or ingredients originating from them are used in foods, including alcoholic drinks. This will ensure that consumers suffering from food allergies and intolerances or those who wish to avoid eating certain ingredients for any other reason can identify those ingredients they may need or wish to eliminate from their diet.
At European level the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on nutrition and health claims is nearing completion of First Reading. The proposal specifies conditions for the use of nutrition and health claims made on foods and aims to ensure consumers receive accurate and meaningful information while allowing food producers to use serious and scientifically substantiated claims as a marketing tool.
At national level discussions are ongoing between my Department and the Department of Agriculture and Food on the question of the introduction of national measures to require the country of origin to be displayed in respect of beef served in the restaurant and catering sector. We are considering the options available in terms of the legal mechanisms to give effect to such labelling. However, as it will be necessary to consult with the European Commission regarding the proposed measures, I am not in a position to give an indication as to when country of origin labelling will be introduced to this sector.
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