I submitted a motion on Spinraza, which is supported by Deputies Thomas Pringle, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Catherine Connolly, Maureen O’Sullivan, Gino Kenny, Bríd Smith, and Richard Boyd Barrett. The motion calls for access to Spinraza for the approximately 70 patients with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), including 26 children, in urgent need of treatment and for improved efficiency in the assessment of medicines.
I warmly commend the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on the production of a valuable report on the use of PPPs for public sector infrastructure projects. I thank the Chairman of the joint committee, Deputy McGuinness, and the committee secretariat for producing this report, which is particularly timely in the context of the liquidation of the Carillion group. The collapse of Carillion has significantly delayed the delivery of the PPP contract known as schools bundle 5 right up to the present. It raises profound questions about the continued use of the whole PPP process, which has tied the State into a system of large annual payments to PPP contractors until the 2050s or 2060s. The informative report before the House may be considered alongside the House of Commons report on Carillion, which is a devastating indictment of the PPP approach. We copied this approach from the UK Government, which refers to it as the private finance initiative, PFI.
As the Minister knows, there has been much criticism and two major debates about public private partnerships, PPPs, in this House. Our parliamentary budget office has carried out an overview of PPPs in Ireland, asking that we address the pretty opaque nature and the lack of transparency in the whole area of PPPs. There is a difficulty in measuring true value for money down to the 2040s or 2060s. The overview made some specific proposals on water contracts and the multi-annual budget.
The UK started its private finance initiative (PFI) programme in 1990 and the total estimated value of its public private partnerships is approximately £32 billion, whereas in Ireland so far it is €2.3 billion. Over the existence of previous Governments and the current Government, we have been used to school bundles and other proposals on housing and critical infrastructure. The reason the Government turned in that direction is precisely because of the blanket bank guarantee, the crash and the decision to totally eviscerate capital spending in this country for a decade. This was a deplorable decision and nobody involved in it really should be in the House.