Other Questions - Departmental Agencies

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 708 No. 2

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  10.  Deputy Willie Penrose  Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills  Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan   the areas of FÁS that are now under the remit of her Department; if primary legislation is required to make the changes announced as part of the reconfiguration of Departments in March 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18293/10]

Deputy Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Taoiseach, when nominating new members of the Government on 23 March last, indicated to Dáil Éireann his intention to make a number of changes in the structure of ministerial responsibilities and Departments in the interest of the better alignment of functions. Those changes included a transfer of certain responsibilities from the then Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, including responsibility for skills and training policy and for FÁS, as a State body, to the renamed Department of Education and Skills. Responsibility for FÁS employment services and employment programmes was transferred to the renamed Department of Social Protection.

The Office of the Attorney General examined the issues relating to the proposed transfer and advised that in order to ensure that it is carried out correctly, it would be advisable to use primary legislation. On foot of that advice, the Government decided on 27 April 2010 to transfer with effect from 1 May 2010, the functions of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding FÁS to me as the Minister for Education and Skills. This was done under the Employment Programmes and Services and Skills Training (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 2010. The name of my Department, and my title as Minister, was then changed by Government order to Education and Skills with effect from 2 May 2010.

It is now the intention that the Minister for Social Protection, in consultation with me as Minister for Education and Skills, will bring forward immediately a proposed amendment to the social welfare (miscellaneous provisions) Bill 2010 to endow the Minister for Social Protection with the necessary statutory powers in respect of the employment services and community services programmes of FÁS and subsequently to transfer the related funding to the Minister [332]for Social Protection. It is hoped, subject to the availability of Oireachtas time, that this Bill will be enacted before the summer recess.

Therefore until such time as the Bill is enacted all areas of FÁS are under the remit of my Department. It is envisaged that further legislation will be required to enable the full transfer of the employment services and community services programmes into the Department of Social Protection.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I thank the Tánaiste for her reply. Do I take it that the Secretary General in her Department is the responsible Accounting Officer?

Deputy Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Yes.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Tánaiste will be haunted by FÁS for longer than she thought.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Yes.

Deputy Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I do not agree. While I have had my challenges with FÁS, we made a good appointment in respect of the new board, whose members I believe have plenty of drive, energy and enthusiasm. Moreover, there will be greater synergies between FÁS and the skills portfolio in respect of further education, PLCs and so on with the Minister of State responsible. It will bring better synergies and will focus on the development of the national skills strategy. Consequently, I look forward to it.


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