Written Answers - Departmental Agencies

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 727 No. 2
Unrevised

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  213.  Deputy Richard Bruton  Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton   asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation  Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin   the number of State agencies identified for abolition or merger in her Department; the number of agencies which have been merged or abolished to date in her Department; the total net savings which have been made in respect of each State agency arising from its merger or abolition in her Department; the likely date for merger or abolition and the reason for the delay in respect of each State agency which has not already been merged with another State agency or abolished in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3005/11]

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation (Deputy Mary Hanafin): Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  My Department currently has 13 State Agencies supporting us in our work. These are:

1. Enterprise Ireland

2. IDA Ireland

3. Science Foundation Ireland

4. Shannon Development

5. County and City Enterprise Boards (35)

6. National Standards Authority of Ireland

7. InterTradeIreland (the North / South Business Development Body)

8. Forfás

9. National Consumer Agency

10. The Competition Authority

11. Irish Auditing and Accounting Standards Authority

12. Personal Injuries Assessment Board, and

13. The Health and Safety Authority.

Among these Agencies, my Department is working to effect the merger of the National Consumer Agency (NCA) and the Competition Authority. In this regard, as both the NCA and the Competition Authority were established under statute, it is necessary to give effect to the newly merged body by way of primary legislation.

At the time the merger of the two bodies was announced, work on a review of the operation and implementation of the 2002 Competition Act was well underway. The various submissions received following a public consultation process were being considered, as was the report and recommendations of the Advisory Group on Media Mergers. Therefore, rather than give effect to the amalgamation of the NCA and Competition Authority in a stand-alone piece of legislation, to be followed in due course by legislation to amend, reform and update the 2002 Act, it was decided to introduce a single comprehensive Bill that will:

Create the new consumer and competition body,

Update existing competition law,

[374]Strengthen the public interest test in respect of media mergers, in line with the report of the Advisory Group on Media Mergers,

Make some minor amendments to the consumer protection legislation, and

Give effect to the Government commitment under “Towards 2016” regarding the exemption of certain specified categories of vulnerable workers from competition law.

While work on the draft legislation on this basis has been progressing, developments in other areas have arisen which have led to additional requirements in the Bill. The Renewed Programme for Government contains a specific commitment to “implement a Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector to develop a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers” and “to review progress of the Code and if necessary to put in place a mandatory code”. An enabling provision for this code will be provided for in the legislation.

This all-encompassing approach to the draft legislation has to some extent delayed the legislation for the rationalisation of the two bodies. I am, however, of the view that we will be better served, in the long run, by a single legislative measure that both establishes the new body and provides for a combined and updated consumer and competition code with appropriate enforcement provisions being given to the new body. Work on the draft heads of this Bill is now completed and I intend to bring these draft heads to Cabinet shortly.

As this particular merger has not yet been implemented, no significant savings can be reported and the earliest date for the merger taking effect is late 2011. I should also indicate that I have finalised my proposals for the reorganization of the 35 County & City Enterprise Boards in an effort to streamline delivery of our supports for the micro-enterprise sector and I hope to bring formal proposals in this area to Government shortly.


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