Dáil Éireann - Volume 487 - 17 February, 1998

Written Answers. - Departmental Staff.

176. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Finance if he will withdraw the embargo within the public service to allow the appointment of additional veterinary surgeons to deal with the increased workload within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3861/98]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I take it the Deputy's question refers to the current policy on Civil Service staff numbers under which an approved staffing ceiling for each Department and office is in place.

This policy refers to overall staff numbers in each Department and office and not to the composition of the staffing team in terms of individual grades. Departments are, accordingly, free to vary the composition of their grade structures, e.g. by switching posts from areas of lesser priority to areas of higher priority, subject to the normal constraints concerning the availability of funding and the requirement that the approval of my Department is obtained where increases in the number of senior posts, i.e. grades above higher executive officer level, are sought.

Current policy also provides that where an overall increase in Civil Service numbers is sought by a Department, their proposals are subjected to a detailed examination by my Department as is the use of staffing resources already available to the Department concerned and the results of this examination are considered by a select committee of Secretaries Generals of

[579] Departments whose function is to make a recommendation to Government on the proposals.

My Department is curently in contact with the Department of Agriculture and Food concerning their priority staffing needs with a view to determining if additional resources should be provided.