Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children

General Scheme of Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Discussion (Resumed)

9:30 am

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I get the point. I just wonder if there is a risk of going too far into a nanny state space in some of these things. I will not rubbish the Chairman. This legislation was bandied about Government for three or four years and it was not possible to get agreement on it. We are in year five of the Parliament and I wanted to get good stuff done. As I have said before, and I really mean it, the perfect is often the enemy of the good. When people are willing to sign up for 85% of what we want we take the 85% and come back for the 15% later. We will write into the legislation a review after three years. It is a legislative requirement that the Minister three years after enactment will need to look at the issue and all these issues again.

Changes to the groceries order would need to be done by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I would not have any objection to using it if that were agreed. However, our concern is that it would not be effective for the reasons I outlined earlier. It could also be challenged under competition law and consumer law. It is a very old order and I am not sure if the primary legislation underpinning it has policies and principles and all the rest of it.

Deputy Catherine Byrne and some of the other contributors mentioned education. I think there is a very strong role for education. I am convinced that education on its own does not work, but as part of the package education is very important. We have seen that with smoking and other things. There have been very effective education approaches to that. Perhaps officials from the health and well-being section of the HSE should talk to officials in the Department of Education and Skills about it to see if we can carry out a schools programme. That would be a good idea.


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