Wednesday, 9 December 1998
Seanad Éireann Debate
Mr. Ross: On Second Stage I asked the Minister for Health and Children the following questions. Can the Minister of State now indicate the amount of money the VHI spend on cars for their executives, how many executives have cars and what type of cars they have?
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): The VHI's fleet consists of 48 cars and one van. The majority of cars are the standard 1.3 to 1.6 litre models. Over 60 per cent of the fleet is permanently on the road and used by sales staff, customer service, hospital relations, technology support, distribution and for commuting between VHI's offices in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dún Laoghaire.
Mr. Ross: It is a very incomplete answer because all the Minister of State has told me is what he wants to tell me. I do not expect him to tell me what he does not want to tell me. He has told me that the majority of cars are between 1.3 to 1.6 litres and 60 per cent of the fleet is used by sales staff. Are we getting normality on the remaining 40 per cent? What amount of money is being spent by the VHI on this fleet? Are these people paying benefit in kind on those cars? I am trying to establish whether this company is being run in a loose manner. The VHI receives public money and it is being run on a commercial basis. The Minister of State's incomplete answer indicates that 40 per cent of the fleet is unexplained. We do not know how much money the VHI is spending on these cars. The public is entitled to this information. I am not accusing the Minister of State of being evasive, but his answers are incomplete. He should inform the House of the models of these cars, the cost of running them and who is entitled to them. The public is entitled to this information because the VHI is a semi-State body. I do not expect the Minister of State to give me the information now, but perhaps he will give it to me before the end of the week.
Mrs. Jackman: In relation to the international healthcare plan providing for medical, surgical or related services, will this result in an additional cost for existing plans? In other words, will it cost more if one travels abroad for three or six months or will it be part and parcel of one's existing plan?
Mr. Ross: I am not asking him to interfere; I am simply asking for information. The Minister of State has given me a certain amount of information, but I think he would be the first to admit it is incomplete. I am not asking him for action, just transparency. Will he assure me he will answer my questions in writing in the next day or two? I do not want to delay the House or score points.
Mr. Ross: I know the Minister of State's endeavours will be trojan. Having given me one-quarter of the information I requested, will he give me the remaining three-quarters? I do not accept his reply that he will do his best because the information is available to him. I simply ask him to get the information and pass it on to me.
Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt): I thank Senators for their contributions and for ensuring the speedy passage of the Bill through the House. The Bill will enable the VHI board to respond to competitive challenges in an important growing market and to offer its members a necessary and desirable product.
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