This section has acquired a new relevance and importance in the last few days because of the Minister's decision to close the college until this body is established. This has given a special urgency to the processing of the Bill, be it a good Bill or a bad Bill, and to the implementation of the Bill in accordance with the provisions of the section. I should like to ask the Minister now whether he is in a position to assure us that when the Bill goes through—we will want to facilitate its passage, I think, while opposing its contents—he will be in a position to proceed with the establishment of this board and whether he will in the meantime make sure that he is giving thought to the composition of the board and to the arrangements for elections so that the new board can be functioning as soon as possible this month, or early in December or in time for the college to re-open in January in any event. There is very great urgency about this. I know the Minister shares my concern here. I do not want to go into the merits or the reasons for the closure, but I should like him to tell us whether he will be in a position to take the fullest advantage of whatever co-operation we can give him here and in the other House in getting this Bill through and whether he can assure us he will be in a position to move swiftly so that the college will re-open in January at least under the new auspices if, in fact, nothing happens to enable it to re-open in the meantime. I do not want to exclude that possibility though I do not see any immediate sign of it.
Committee on Finance. - National College of Art and Design Bill, 1971 : Committee Stage.
The Deputy can be assured I will be concerning myself with the possibility of re-opening the college at the earliest possible moment and I will be concerning myself with the composition of An Bord. I will have to consider every aspect of the matter very carefully so as to ensure that, when An Bord is appointed, it will be permitted to function and we will not have a situation similar to the one we have had since the college opened. I am as concerned as the Deputy—I have no doubt the Deputy is concerned—with ensuring that art education is carried on in a proper fashion and that individuals who may feel that the board is not satisfactory so far as they are concerned will not be permitted to disrupt the working of the college as it has been disrupted in recent times. I do not want to go into past history, but I will examine the whole situation very carefully and I will re-open the college at the earliest possible moment at which I am assured it will be possible for the board to function.
The Minister worries me somewhat at this stage. The problems in the college derive in part from the fact that it is not an autonomous body and it has not, therefore, been possible for it to be run and administered like an ordinary educational institution. The value of the Bill is that it will create some kind of autonomous body but the autonomy is eroded by many aspects of the Bill. We will do our best to delete these and make the college a genuinely autonomous institution. I do not think there is any possibility of getting a final resolution of the difficulties until this is done. If the Minister approaches it the other way round and says that, until the difficulties are resolved, he will not appoint the board we will be in very serious difficulties indeed. I hope that is not his intention. The Minister must make an act of faith, appoint the board and let them get on with the job, get the college re-opened and working smoothly, overcome the difficulties that have arisen, make appointments and re-appointments. It would be very difficult for the Minister to make sure the board will work; it is a matter for the board to do that. Perhaps I have misinterpreted the Minister's reservations. I am glad to give him the opportunity of clarifying the position.
Certainly it would be a matter for the board, but we have already had statements made by certain individuals that they do not accept the legislation at present before this House and they will not accept the board. This, of course, does not preclude me from appointing the board and from asking the board to get on with the job. The Deputy has stated that the problems arise because there was not an autonomous body controlling the college. I should like to believe that but, without going into details, I would say there were many other factors involved as well as the fact that it was not an autonomous body.
Do I understand from the Minister that he intends to establish this board as soon as possible after the passing of this Bill?
As quickly as I can. I did not know whether the Deputy was referring to whether I was going to establish the board first or re-open the college first.
There are two things involved here. The Minister could, if he wished, re-open the college. He may in certain circumstances decide to do that. I am not raising that at the moment, but it may come up at Question Time tomorrow. What I am concerned with is, if that does not happen, if the Minister does not find it possible to re-open the college, that he will appoint the board as soon as the Bill goes through, leaving it to the board to decide when and how to re-open the college, with what staff and what students.
I should like him to assure us that that is his intention and that he will not hold off appointing the board until everything settles down.
I could not imagine myself doing that.
Perhaps I misunderstood the Minister. I am glad to have that clarification.
I move amendment No. 1:
In subsection (2) (a), page 4, lines 12 and 13, to delete "with the consent of the Minister,".
Having heard the arguments put forward by the Deputy on the Second Stage, I decided I would agree to deleting the words "with the consent of the Minister,".
I thank the Minister. I hope he will be equally persuaded by the arguments to do precisely the same thing in some of the succeeding amendments.
Amendment No. 3 is cognate to amendment No. 2 and so, perhaps, we could discuss amendment No. 3 with amendment No. 2.
I move amendment No. 2:
In subsection (2) (b), line 14, to delete "if so requested by the Minister,".
Here we come up against the second instance in which the autonomy of the college is affected. The Minister may make the case that it is for him and his Department to decide how persons are trained as teachers of art rather than for the institution. If that is the Minister's argument I would be very unhappy because any body of this kind must have the power to carry out the various functions appropriate to it and cognate to its main functions. I do not think any educational institution should be constricted. I do not think the charter of a university should say that it should not do certain kinds of teaching or do them only with the permission of the Minister. I do not think the charter of the NUI or the equivalent document relating to Dublin University contains any such provisions. It seems to me to be inappropriate that an educational institution of this kind should be precluded from carrying out this type of function. If they believe that they can usefully provide a course in the training of persons as teachers of art which, in fact, the existing institution are doing, they should be enabled to do so and have the power to decide this for themselves. The introduction of the Minister into this question is contrary to past practice in institutions of this kind. It is undersirable in itself and, in this particular instance, is rather irrelevant because what we are talking about here in subsection (2) (b) is the training of persons as teachers of art, which is one of the functions of the college at this time. I do not see any reason why the new board should be permitted to carry out this function only if requested by the Minister. The Minister may have reasons for this that I have not grasped and, if so, I would be happy to give him the opportunity of telling us what these reasons are. However, it seems to me that the phrase "if so requested by the Minister" should be deleted in both these instances.
My view on this is different from the view expressed by the Deputy. This is mainly because it is proposed to establish An Foras Oideachais which will deal in general with the training of teachers. Because of this I would prefer not to make a decision on the training of art teachers until this body are established and have given me advice as they think fit in relation to the training of art teachers.
Of course present thinking on the matter is that the College of Art is the proper place in which to train teachers of art but should I get advice from An Foras Oideachais that the training of teachers should take place elsewhere than in the College of Art I wish to leave myself free to make a decision. Were I not to insist on the phrase "if so requested by the Minister," being retained in these two sections, it could mean that if I were advised by An Foras Oideachais that the training of art teachers should take place in a place other than the College of Art, either I would not be able, if I so wished, to conform with the advice given to me or I would have a situation whereby art teachers would be being trained in two different areas. For that reason I consider myself to be justified in retaining the words "if so requested by the Minister," in these two sections.
In the unavoidable absence of Deputy Thornley I am putting the point of view of the Labour Party on these matters. On the face of it, the argument put forward by the Minister for the retention of the subsections which these two amendments seek to delete is a plausible one. However, the argument does not stand up to analysis because if we are to consider the possibility of advice being given to the effect that art teachers should be trained elsewhere, that would imply inevitably that there must be another school of art. I do not think anybody has ever suggested that the training of artists could be separated from the training of art teachers. Both roles are inseparable. Either the Minister is anticipating that An Foras Oideachais will advise him to set up another art school, in which case there would be the question of the partitioning of the training of art teachers between the two schools or, else, he is suggesting that it is possible to train teachers of art in an institution other than the school of art.
I do not think anybody could entertain the latter proposition for a moment and in view of the resources of the country and the possibilities of valid art training, I do not think that the former suggestion regarding the setting up of a second college of art is realistic either. It seems to me that the Minister, under this argument of retaining freedom to respond to whatever advice An Foras Oideachais may give him, is cloaking his desire or determination to retain the power to direct what this school of art will do. There are many amendments to this Bill and we do not intend to delay unduly its passage through the House. It is our hope that the situation will be resolved as quickly as possible. The centre of the matter is whether one can trust people who are given a good deal of autonomy, and who are professionals, to dedicate themselves to carry out, in line with modern requirements, the teaching of art and also the training of art teachers, or whether power should be retained in the hands of a Minister which in reality often means in the hands of his senior civil servants. I hope we do not become too acrimonious on this but I would have thought that because of the history of this country during the past 40 years or so and because of the experience of every other country, civil servants are unsuited entirely to that task. I would urge the Minister to clear the air at the beginning of what is now an extremely unpleasant situation in which there are groups of people who are divided deeply and who, unfortunately, are not even talking to each other. He should clear the air by disclaiming the desire to retain that sort of control by acclaiming the willingness to trust the persons who are appointed to administer this art school. In the universities it is not for a Minister to say what should be carried out in the different faculties because such is the responsibility of the professional bodies and of the university. Such is their commitment to their own professions that they discharge those responsibilities adequately and no directions from Ministers could improve on this discharging of those duties. I would urge the Minister to accept the amendments as a kind of declaration on his side of a real willingness to see the devolution of power, a real willingness to trust the members of the groups who are going to administer the art school and a real willingness to get away from control through a Government Department.
Some of Deputy Keating's misgivings would seem to have stemmed from his misunderstanding of this matter, or of his having developed grounds for apprehension that are non-existent. The Minister stated clearly that present thinking is that the College of Art is the proper place for the training of art teachers. When Deputy Keating said that to have them trained elsewhere would be retaining power in the hands of the Minister he, obviously, cannot be aware as no one can be aware at this stage, of the power which the Minister will have over anybody operating under An Foras Oideachais.
Therefore it is not a question of the Minister, without having recommendation of some other body or acting through some other body, retaining power for himself or his Department. In saying that, the Deputy is reading a provision into the section that is not there. It is quite clear to me that it is in the College of Art that the training of art teachers will be undertaken but——
To be realistic about it, can the Parliamentary Secretary anticipate anything else?
One cannot anticipate what recommendations may be made but, broadly, I would agree with Deputy Keating. However, his misgivings as expressed in such phrases as "retaining power in the hands of the Minister" are not justified. This is clearly not the case. Otherwise the purpose of the Bill and even the purpose of An Foras Oideachais would be, I think, defeated. Apparently this is something that causes Deputy FitzGerald to be amused. He appears to think, if I may interpret his amusement, that this whole Bill may be only some sort of exercise in whitewashing.
The amusement arises from the Parliamentary Secretary's suggestion about reading something into the Bill which is not there. Precisely what is not there is that on the recommendation of——
Of course it is not there. The wording of this Bill does not indicate that the Minister or his advisers, even presuming for a moment that An Foras Oideachais took this rather unusual step to advise him to set up elsewhere, would determine the nature and scope and extent of these courses: it is simply that they would provide a course at the request of the Minister. If we just look at what the words say and do not read these misgivings into them at this time we would do better. In view of the fact that An Foras Oideachais will be charged with the whole promotion of teacher-training, one cannot anticipate at this stage or tie their hands but I think the likelihood is, as the Minister has indicated, that this will reside in the College of Art.
The Parliamentary Secretary has given us a wonderful picture of what is involved here but the Bill does not say anything about it. The Bill does not mention An Foras Oideachais, no doubt for the very good reason that the body is not yet in existence. It does not even say "If so requested by a body established for the purpose of supervising teacher training" or words to that effect, similar to the amendment which the Minister is substituting, I think, under subsection (2) (i) in another context. There is no mention of An Foras Oideachais and this is simply a figment of the Parliamentary Secretary's imagination from a legal point of view. He may happen to know from talking to the Minister that the present Minister's intention is that he would only exercise this power if advised by a body not now in existence, which he also knows from talking to the Minister that the Minister intends to establish. That is great stuff but it is not legislation which involves laying down in black and white and legally binding form what can and cannot be done. So far as we are concerned the Bill, as drafted, simply gives the power to the Minister to decide whether or not courses for the training of teachers of art will be provided in this particular body. He has the power. There is no question of his having to get advice or having to take it or who is to advice him. That is not mentioned. It is very interesting to speculate as to what might happen but it is not in the Bill.
I found Deputy Keating's argument most cogent throughout. I could not have put it better; in fact, I would not have put it as well. I shall not, therefore, attempt to embroider or add to it. But what I had intended to say before the Parliamentary Secretary rose was that, if the Minister is making the case which he is making in the matter of An Foras Oideachais and its function, then if he is going to give that body the autonomy it should have, the wording here should be "... if so requested by a body established to supervise the training of teachers..." It is perfectly all right to describe in suitably general terms the functions of An Foras Oideachais. In fact, the Minister's reply to that presumably would be no, that he must retain the power to do that but he will take their advice and, as Ministers of this Government have frequently done before, assure us that he will have regard to the advice given to him and would never dream of acting contrary to that advice. But that is not legislation. Our job in the Opposition is to ensure that the legislation gives genuine autonomy. The only dimension the Minister added to what we knew already is that not alone is the College of Art not going to have autonomy in this matter but neither is An Foras Oideachais and that, in fact, all it will do is advise him and that he will now take the decisions rather than An Foras Oideachais or the National College of Art. He has added a further dimension of non-autonomy to what is in the Bill already.
I am sure the Deputy will accept that I have final responsibility in relation to educational matters. The whole question of teacher training is at present under consideration and examination. As Deputy Keating mentioned, there is no question of my not trusting those who will be members of the board. My point is that because the whole question of teacher-training in relation to various aspects of the educational field is under examination and we do not know what final decisions will be made, in my view it was wise to ensure that if advice were given to me by An Foras Oideachais in relation to art training I would be in a position where I could make a decision. By removing the words "if so requested by the Minister..." I think I should be leaving myself in the position where I would not be able to put into operation advice given to me by An Foras Oideachais with which I might agree. However, as a gesture of goodwill I shall consider before the next Stage whether I will delete these words. I cannot say now that I am satisfied with the arguments put forward by Deputies opposite but I shall consider the matter before the Report Stage.
I thank the Minister for saying he will consider the amendment and I suggest to him, perhaps, as a further technical reason that, as drafted, I do not think the Bill does what he wants to do. It says that they shall provide courses if requested by him. When the board is established and goes into operation—we hope in the very near future—the Minister will have to decide if he is going to stop them from training teachers of art as from next January or whatever date this provision comes into effect. If he is not going to stop them, then he must request them to do it. But the Bill does not make any provision for him de-requesting them. If he really wants it to achieve what he says he should word it the other way round and say "...unless requested by the Minister not to do so, they will provide courses...." As it stands he will have to request them to do so, so that the courses will be allowed to continue. I do not think as the Bill is drafted he would have any power to revoke that, if I understand the meaning of the words used. I do not want to put bad thoughts into the Minister's mind about substituting anything else but I would like to suggest to him that it is another good reason for deleting what is there.
I should also like to welcome the Minister's undertaking to consider the matter and to suggest to him that the only circumstances I could visualise in which he would need this power is where he received advice from An Foras Oideachais that the College of Art was not the right place for art teacher training and he had to have it done elsewhere. The Minister does not need that power in this Bill because he possesses the power to say to the secondary schools that "as from a certain date we shall not recognise the qualifications given by the College of Art". He could switch it off in that way at any time he wished. As Deputy FitzGerald said, it is the power to stop them that the Minister needs and I suggest he has that already and does not need to write it into a Bill.
Deputy Keating is putting more bad thoughts into the Minister's mind.
Perhaps he is. However, I will consider it.
I move amendment No. 4:
In subsection (2) (e), lines 24 and 25, to delete "with the consent of the Minister."
Here again the Minister's consent is required for schemes giving scholarships, bursaries, prizes and awards. The Minister, of course, will retain a budgetary function in regard to this body as he does in regard to other educational bodies which are wholly or partly dependent on State finance. It is quite proper that he should. In fact, the one function the Minister for Education must have is that of allocating scarce resources between the different educational institutions. Incidentally, I would differ from him in his interpretation of his functions. In his last few words here he spoke of having "final responsibility in relation to educational matters". So far as educational matters are matters for a Government the Minister has the final responsibility but I think there is a difference in approach here because my approach would be that the Minister's job is to devolve as much as possible the function of providing education and the function of dealing with curriculum examinations to relevant expert bodies and not to involve himself in that area and that the more devolution the better in that area while retaining control of resources which, of course, is essential because of the allocatory function of the Government.
In this particular instance it seems to me that the basic financial control which the Minister will have over this body, that is, deciding how much money to give it, will give him sufficient power to prevent the "dissipation"—and I use the word in inverted commas—of its resources in scholarships, bursaries, prizes and other awards which he might not approve of. Such a body must have the power to decide for itself, on its own expert knowledge of the needs of the students, the kind of incentives required to encourage them to high performance in particular fields, what bursaries and prizes it should give within the limits imposed by its budget.
I do not think that its carrying out of this function, an essential function of any third level educational institution, should be limited by requiring the specific consent of the Minister to a particular scheme. Again, this is not the case with other third level educational institutions. Universities have their own scholarships, bursaries and prizes so that they can facilitate students where this is thought desirable. I do not think that can be done satisfactorily except by such an institution itself. The Minister's understandable desire to ensure that the educational resources are well used can be adequately implemented and put into effect by his general budgetary control. It is inappropriate for him to have the power of intervention in detailed matters.
I am sure that the universities would be very disconcerted if they thought he felt he should have the power to decide how many second year scholarships were given in modern languages. The Minister has no thought of doing anything of the kind. I suspect that he has no interest in interfering in the scholarship and bursary provisions of the universities and that no such thought has entered his mind. I do not quite know why it should have entered his mind in relation to this college. I can only assume—and there is evidence of this throughout the Bill— that the fact that this institution has been under the close supervision and control of the Department of Education for so long has led him to view it in a rather different light from the light in which he views other third level educational institutions which have a longer autonomy. I suggest that he should stand back from his unhappy experience of this college and try to look on it in the light in which we on this side of the House are looking on it, as a third level educational institution which should be dealt with in a similar manner to other third level institutions.
Therefore, I would suggest to the Minister that he should consider between now and Report Stage if necessary, if he cannot make up his mind on the spot on this issue, having heard the arguments, the deletion of these words and exercising whatever control he thinks proper over the finances of the college through the general budgetary mechanism rather than through claiming a right here which he does not claim and does not seek and which he would be the first to admit he should not have in relation to other third level educational institutions such as universities.
I feel that I should emphasise that the Minister's control is in reference to the scope and the extent of the schemes and not to their actual administration. I am convinced that the board could not be allowed, for example, to run counter to other schemes of a similar nature and in relation to which the Minister has a responsibility—for instance, in relation to higher education grants and scholarships. It would not be possible to treat these scholarships in isolation from the general scheme of scholarships, and so on, in the higher education field. In a sense I have extended the scope of these scholarships. We should not refer all the time to the universities; there are other institutions to which the scope of these scholarships has been extended, not under the legislation.
Grants similar to the higher education grants.
That is quite different.
I do not see that it is quite different. We cannot treat one particular unit in isolation.
We have to concern ourselves with the situation in relation to other bodies.
That is my point.
If we did not have "with the consent of the Minister" here, it would mean that there could be a very wide variation between the types of grants and scholarships and bursaries made available by this college which would immediately invite comparison with those available in other colleges. For this reason, and again emphasising that the Minister's control simply refers to the scope and extent of the scheme, I feel that I should leave the words as they stand in the section.
The Minister may be overlooking the present pattern of scholarships and grants. The position is that we have a scheme of grants for university education and also for other forms of higher level education which are of degree standard. That system of grants has a special function of ensuring, within the limits operating at the moment which are too restrictive, a measure of social equality. That is not what scholarships, prizes, bursaries and other awards are. Despite what he said about the universities, I would suggest that the Minister should have a look at the calendar of any university at this moment to see the extraordinarily wide range of scholarships, bursaries and awards given by these universities, additional to but separate from and for totally different purposes from the grants. The Minister's remarks suggest to me a certain confusion of thought. He wants to ensure that this body does not have a grant scheme which would be different from the national grants scheme. I quite see the force of that. Of course the national grants scheme, designed to secure a measure of social equality, should apply to this college, if this college and its qualifications and standards and length of study are in line with those of the other institutions which may at the present time or in future benefit from these grants. Of course this college should not be starting up its own grant scheme separate from and with different conditions from the national grants scheme for third level education. On that I am at one with the Minister.
That is not what the amendment says. The amendment does not refer to these grants at all. It refers to things which are, of their nature, different and which are, by definition, different. Scholarships, prizes and other awards are given primarily as incentives to performance, in fact, in many cases exclusively so, which normally, although there are some exceptions to this, are not related to means tests—there are exceptions from that I admit—and which fall into a different category, in these respects generally and in their relatively small number, from the grants. The grants are for everybody who reaches a certain level and to ensure equality. Scholarships, prizes and awards are for the few who reach a standard of excellence and to give them an incentive to do so.
In existing thrid level institutions these exist in very wide numbers. In the college of which I have best knowledge, University College, Dublin, in each year quite a large number of scholarships are given—perhaps I should not say a large number but a significant number—over the various range of degrees in all the faculties. In addition to that, there are prizes for excellence in particular subjects and there are a number of bursaries, some of which derive from donations or gifts from people outside. All of these are designed to encourage excellence and are for people who get first or second or third, those who come at the top of the three in a particular subject, or a particular group. These are inherently within the competence of, and concern directly, the particular educational institution.
I can see no reason why the Minister, not asserting any right to interfere with these in the universities, which he does not do, and has never attempted to do, and does not intend to do, should try to control these here. It seems to me that if, in fact, what he said represents the full extent of his thought on this, and if he feels there is some danger which I cannot see at all of this institution setting up a grant scheme available to everybody who gets so many honours, and available to everybody within a certain means test, and if he fears they will set up such a scheme off their own bat with the funds he is providing them with which would be different from a national scheme, let him put into this the wording here, "establishing and carrying on a scheme of grants in relation to students art crafts and designs". I do not think it is necessary. I cannot conceive of the college with the resources it is likely to have launching this kind of grant scheme. It could not do so.
If the Minister fears that, fair enough, but he has got the wrong words here. There is a complete misconception here. The things he refers to here are, in fact, the very things which exist in other institutions which are not controlled or interfered with by the Minister, which are not related to grants at all, and which of their nature are idiosyncratic and each institution must provide for itself in relation to its own needs. If the Minister accepts that what I am saying is basically correct—and I am speaking with some knowledge of this—I suggest that he should have another look at it and see whether, in fact, the wording really meets his needs, and whether there is a necessity for it, given that the meaning of scholarships, bursaries, prizes and awards is quite clear. I do not think there can be any legal confusion about it.
I cannot see anybody thinking that grants would come under that. I do not think, in fact, that, as worded, the university grants system as given now would be held to come under it at all. That is a matter of interpretation and certainly it extends to all kinds of things which are not grants and which do not come under the grants scheme and which I do not think he would wish to control or interfere with because every educational institution must have the power to dispose of a small fraction of its resources to give special incentives to students of particular excellence. Even schools—and their resources are limited enough— have a prize day and books are given to pupils and somehow the money is scraped together for this purpose. The Minister does not presume to intervene and say that all prizes given in schools should be subject to his consent. If this is not necessary in schools and it is not necessary in the universities—I do not know about vocational schools, I doubt if they are inhibited from giving any award but perhaps they are and if they are they should not be—I see no reason for selecting this particular college for this type of control over scholarships, prizes and awards.
The Minister should have another look at this in the light of what I have said and see whether it is necessary, given the clear meaning of "scholarships, bursaries, prizes and other awards" to have it at all, or if he does feel the need to control a grants scheme to re-word it so as to achieve the objective which he is seeking to achieve and not to extend his range of competence into an area which I do not think he really wants to control at all.
I am as anxious as everybody else that this Bill should pass quickly but again we are coming back to what seems to me to be central. I agree with everything Deputy FitzGerald said but I should like to add this: if you can make an argument as to which needs more freedom, an ordinary third level educational institution, a university, or a school of art, then the argument in favour of freedom has to go to the school of art. If they have to be different at all then there must be greater freedom for an art school and not less because of the nature of the extraordinarily difficult thing that art teachers are now trying to do. The ordinary boundaries even between the different disciplines in art are gone. I am not going to make a general speech on the Bill now but I have to say this at this stage. There is nothing one can do in an area that is proving to be educationally difficult all over the world except to trust the commitment to their profession of enlightened teachers. Otherwise you simply lose connection with the growing point of the subject you are trying to teach and if you do that you lose the students and the commitment of the students completely. You might possibly say what the requirements of a good medical school are from outside but you could not possibly say what the requirements of a good art school would be from the outside because it is evolving so rapidly and it is so difficult.
The points made by Deputy FitzGerald about the confusion are unanswerable. There exists something called a Taylor Scholarship already, I understand, another scholarship in the school of art. I do not want to introduce abusive words into this debate, certainly not at the moment, but I detect a strain of what I can only call paranoia in the drawing up of this Bill because it is not even general. It is "scholarships, bursaries, prizes and other awards". The Minister is not saying that he does not want an auction between the art school and the university, that they are bidding higher to get students in. He is not talking about that. He is talking about the whole spectrum of the incentives that they give. I appreciate the Minister's position in this, and I recognise the mechanism by which Bills are drafted, but surely this is asking for a power in regard to the methods by which a differentiation of quality of work is made inside the school. It is asking for power in relation to that which is neither sought nor given in relation to any sort of teaching institution that I can think of from national school to university. In fact, each university enshrines its own history and its past benefactors in the prizes, the bursaries and the scholarships that it presents.
The Minister may say that everybody who is hostile to this Bill approaches it with evil intent if one wishes to believe that its objective is to retain power and not let an evolution into a modern and effective art school take place. He may accuse his opponents of this. There may be some validity in this accusation but surely there is a need to remove the things which give strength to that accusation. The claim to this sort of influence in areas like prizes and bursaries does seem to me to be paranoic and does seem to me to validate all of the worries, doubts and distrusts that have been expressed and, indeed, that I have expressed myself about the intention of this Bill. This is power that really is so far beneath what a Minister for Education ought to be concerning himself with as to be utterly irrelevant.
In a sense Deputy Keating has made my case for me when he refers to the fact that there is a very considerable difference between the situation in the College of Art and in other colleges because I think it must be obvious that most of the scholarships which would be envisaged here would undoubtedly be entrance scholarships and would have a direct relevance in that sense to the higher education grant. The reason why I say that he has made my case for me is that it was obvious to me, particularly in discussions with the students, that it is more than possible that not very many of the students would get higher education grants because of the fact that they might not reach the four C's level. In other words you could be a very good artist without necessarily having one C. Therefore we would have to concern ourselves with a different situation in relation to scholarships to the College of Art.
Grants. Quite different.
Well, grants. I do not know that there is much difference in it in this sense. However, we will call them grants. The point I am making is that in my view most of the grants or scholarships would be entrance scholarships and, therefore, would bear or would be made to bear a comparison with the grants made available to higher educational institutions. For that reason I feel that it would be necessary for me to be involved in some way in relation to that. That is the basic reason why I introduced the wording "with the consent of the Minister".
There is a basic misunderstanding here. The Minister, I hope, is aware that the universities have entrance scholarships. It is, in fact, a very important feature of the universities that they have a special scheme of entrance scholarships for people of particular excellence, scholarships entirely unrelated to means. They are designed to encourage excellence. These schemes exist in universities. There has been a supplementation of them or a different scheme introduced as a result of some problems created by the removal of the county council scholarships. We now have at the behest of the Department and the universities two schemes of entrance scholarships quite separate from the grants for a few people of particular excellence.
I hope the Minister is not claiming that he must now take power to control entrance scholarships to universities because "they have a direct relevance to grants". The only direct relevance is that if someone gets an entrance scholarship because he is a person of great excellence it could have a bearing on whether or not he is going to be given a grant because grants are given to people who need assistance and if a person gets a scholarship he may not need assistance. In relation to universities the two do not relate very well because in fact a scholarship is something which one gets for one year. In those circumstances, because one gets an entrance scholarship I do not think one fails to get a grant. The Minister is not claiming this right in regard to university entrance scholarships. Why then must he claim it in this particular instance?
From the way the Minister is phrasing his remarks I detect a clear confusion between grants and scholarships. I have never heard in education any confusion between the two. Scholarships are for the few of particular excellence, normally without a means test, although there is no essential reason why one cannot be built in. I remember once getting an award, bursary or prize of some kind at university which in fact I was not entitled to because of my parents' means, but that was relatively unusual.
Up to recently scholarships applying to universities from local authorities were subject to a means test.
They do exist.
It is not so exceptional, it has long been the pattern here.
It is not the pattern normally within these institutions but it can happen and even within universities internal scholarships, bursaries or prizes may have a means test built in, although it is unusual. The essential feature of scholarships is that they are few in number for the few who are particularly good in order to give encouragement to them. Grants are of their very nature designed to be for a large number, in fact ideally for all who are entitled to enter, although for financial reasons the present scheme does not extend to all. The Minister, I believe, shares our ambition that as soon as possible it should be financially possible to extend them to all students who go to university.
The basic thing about the grant is that everybody who reaches a certain standard gets it; it is designed to secure a measure of social equality. I have never heard anybody confuse the two before because they are of their nature opposite in their intent and opposite numerically. The Minister's use of the word "scholarship" when he is talking about "grants" does suggest there is a basic confusion of thought in this particular matter here. For this reason I suggest the Minister should have another look at it to see how best to secure what he wants to secure so that he would have a voice in any system of grants available to a large number of people all of a certain standard. Obviously such a scheme would be akin to the general system of grants and while it does not necessarily mean the same, the Minister has given good reason why it might be a little different, and I quite see that the Minister should have a voice in that. If it is necessary to say that here in some way, wording can be devised for the purpose, although I do not think it is because the grants scheme is one that the Minister runs, his Department decide on it, he has power to determine it himself. I do not see why he feels it necessary to have it in this legislation because it is inconceivable that the College of Art could be so well endowed as to operate a grants scheme available for a large portion of their students. I hope the day will come when it might be financially feasible, although I doubt it. It is highly improbable, therefore, that at any stage they would operate a grants scheme akin to the Minister's grants scheme and I do not therefore think it is necessary to provide against this. If the Minister feels it is necessary let him provide a suitable form of words but let him not do what this purports to do and retain power to control scholarships, bursaries and prizes, which are matters entirely within the competence of each institution, which are small in number, designed to encourage excellence and which are not in any other case in schools, universities or anywhere else within the Minister's competence.
What cases are there in the educational sphere at the moment where the Minister exercises control over the power of an educational institution to give scholarships, prizes and bursaries? There may be some institution, a training college over which he has control, I do not know, but certainly in primary schools, secondary schools and universities this has never been suggested. I do not know about vocational schools in this regard. Will the Minister tell the House where this practice exists at the moment?
We have made a case for the Minister to look at it again. Our arguments are sufficiently cogent to warrant the Minister saying that between now and Report Stage he will examine it again and see whether the wording is really designed to achieve his objective or whether it cannot be modified to avoid creating a situation in which in this body alone he has the power of intervention in these matters and whether it can be modified to secure whatever powers he may legitimately want and require to ensure that he can exercise control over a grants system, if any more power is needed than his power to control the money for a grants scheme.
If I may come back to what I said originally about this matter, the number likely to get the ordinary type of grant will be very, very small. I assume, therefore, that the bulk of money available to the college for this purpose would be utilised for entrance scholarships of some form or other. I cannot see why I should not have some say in this particular matter when, as I mentioned earlier, I feel there should be a relationship between grants and this type of entrance scholarship because the grants will not apply in very many instances. At the moment there are only one or two grants.
Is the Minister claiming this right with regard to entrance scholarships to universities? Why pick on this institution?
How would the number of entrance scholarships to universities compare with the number of grant-holders?
A scholarship by definition is for a small number of people.
In a sense the Deputy is playing with words. He is asking me if I have control over those who gain scholarships in universities. This is an infinitesimal number compared with the total number of students who get grants.
That is what a scholarship means.
Who determined that definition?
The opposite situation applies in relation to the College of Art where the number who will get the ordinary type higher education grant will be very small. I cannot say what the number who will get entrance scholarships will be but I would assume that the bulk of the money available for this type of thing would be utilised for the provision of entrance scholarships.
The Deputy has mentioned universities. Is he not being over-influenced by this analogy? The Deputy seems to be saying that in universities the grants structure covers the main group and scholarships cover a very small group and by definition scholarships are applied to a limited number of people. With the grants being applied in the university structure now scholarships are over and above the grants available. The same standard or a higher standard of achievement in the same range of subjects is applied——
Not necessarily at all.
Not necessarily but broadly it is true at entrance level.
It is a different examination.
It is a different examination but it covers generally the same range of subjects for those coming out of post-primary schools. The paper may be of a higher or lower standard but it will cover the same range of subjects. Scholarships in a university relate to the same range of subjects generally, and derive from achievement in the same range of subjects, as to the entitlement to grants but here the situation is very different. The Deputy is confining himself too much by saying that university scholarships are for a limited number. In this case scholarships may be applied by the board, after consultation with the Minister, because of a performance in different subjects from those which entitle one to grants in the higher education grants scheme. Much of what the Deputy says has reason and concern in it but he is obviously overlooking the fact that there are boys and girls who will show a real aptitude for artistic, creative work but do not have the range of academic achievement which would entitle them to grants. They would not in fact qualify for grants but for scholarships which would be applied by the board. As the Minister has indicated, if he is providing money he must have some balance between the amount made available by way of higher education grants and the amount being made available by way of scholarship. The Deputy is stating a definition of scholarship which I have found nowhere to be a definition and he has suggested that we start from that base. I do not accept that.
I have never heard anybody use the word in any other sense in my life.
I do not want to enter a semantic argument about the difference between "grants" and "scholarships" but there is this depressing sense of failure to communicate as though we were using words in a widely different sense. When the Minister asked he was told that only one or two students in the College of Art currently benefit from the current grants scheme. The decision which is implicit in that is that the work done by a person who can gain a certain number of distinctions in a certain number of academic subjects and who is training, let us say, to be a lawyer, is inherently more valuable than the work of a person who does not have the ability to gain those distinctions in academic subjects but is training to be some sort of creative artist. If you had to evaluate the work of a lawyer against the work of a creative artist you would have to give the judgment in favour of the creative artist. If you could evaluate them at all you would have to say that the art student was inherently more socially valuable than the person who had a certain academic facility at arithmetic and languages. If there is a defect here it is clearly in what the net of the grants scheme currently catches. If grants are not being given to people going into the School of Art because they are not good enough at mathematics, good enough at history or something like that, that is a defect in our grants scheme, which it is easy to remedy.
It is already implying a pejorative judgement about the work that art students do and I do not think you need to have this mechanism of saying we cannot do it through the grants scheme because these students are not good enough academically to get the grant so we have to do it another way through scholarships. The way out of that dilemma is to alter the grants scheme and then you could leave alone the internal affairs of a School of Art in relation to scholarships, bursaries, prizes and other awards, which is what requires to be done.
I do not accept what Deputy Keating has said at all because he is asserting that the simple method would be to alter the grants scheme. If we were to alter the grants scheme we could find ourselves in very considerable difficulty in relation to other educational institutions. We are here recognising, as I said earlier, that the artist can be of exceptional ability without being good at mathematics or possibly good at languages and we are trying to ensure that the board will be in a position to help that particular student. The fact that we call it a scholarship rather than a grant does not seem to me to matter very much; but what matters to me is that there should be some relationship between the type of entrance scholarship which the board will award to a student going into the College of Art, irrespective of the basis on which this scholarship is awarded, and the grant which is available to those who are able to get the higher education grant.
We are still in some confusion here about this. I see what the Minister's concern is and I sympathise with his desire to be able to have what I would call a grants scheme to assist students who may not reach a certain academic standard in academic subjects but who in the context of the College of Art deserve to be assisted from a social point of view in studying there. Unfortunately the phraseology he has used is extraordinarily broad. He does not define the power he wants in the Bill as relating to this particular type of financial provision which, if he wants to use the word "scholarship", which I think is inappropriate here and does not correspond to the usage in this country anyway, could be described as an entrance scholarship, valid for the period of duration of the student's studies. That, when provided to everybody who passes a certain standard, is what I call a grant and what everybody else calls a grant and, to be fair, is what the Minister in his scheme calls a grant.
If you want to re-define a grant it is a financial provision designed to assist anybody who reaches a certain standard to attend through the full duration of a course of studies, an educational institution and to be provided for him at the point of entry. If you want to call that an entrance scholarship for the full duration of studies you can change the words around if you want to. It does not matter very much what meaning you give to words although it is easier to use them in their normal sense. What the Minister has done in fact goes far beyond that. He claims the right to control those types of internal awards which are inherently a function of an educational institution, even if they are not what I call grants and what he defines as entrance scholarships available for the duration of the course of studies. He intends to control, for example, the entrance scholarship for the first year, which is normal in third level institutions, in certain universities in this country. He does not claim that right for that type of scholarship in relation to universities. He has not ever claimed it. I hope he is not going to start claiming it now. Yet some of his phraseology seems to suggest that, because certain entrance scholarships given in small numbers on grounds of excellence to people for one year, the first year of their studies, assist people to go to a university who might otherwise not be able to go there if they happen to be people whose parents' means are low, therefore in the context of the College of Art he must have some control over it.
Is the Deputy suggesting that a scholarship by definition is limited to one year? He seems to be implying that now.
I am not. I am suggesting in fact that the only entrance scholarship which exists in the university is a scheme introduced to replace the county council scholarships, but the scheme which has always existed in universities infact can only exist for one year. I am saying that in a country where we have entrance scholarships—the only entrance scholarships which were known in third level institutions until recently were for one year only—we have to have regard to the fact that such a system might be introduced here and that the Minister should not claim to interfere with them nor should he claim to interfere with scholarships given for the second year or the third year nor should he claim a right to decide on prizes for people who get first, second and third in a subject, nor in respect of bursaries given to people to go on to higher studies.
These are all matters which are completely internal to the institutions concerned and in respect of which I do not think it is appropriate for him to make any claim. If he feels there is a problem and that for good reasons he wants to ensure that, if these bodies provide sums of money specified to be for the period of years for the duration of the course, to people who reach a certain standard and if he wants to control such a system to ensure that, while not necessarily having the same entrance standard as universities, nevertheless it can be in line with it perhaps in terms of sums of money given, I see no particular difficulty about that. If the Minister will re-word it to achieve that, fair enough. The wording, as it stands, involves making a claim which I do not think he can justify.
I am trying to look up, as I speak, the word "scholarship" in a dictionary, whose size of type does not meet the situation of my eyesight at the moment. I can find the word "scholar" but I am having difficulty in tracing down the word "scholarship". Obviously I should have got a larger dictionary so that I could deal with it more fully.
If the Deputy does he will not find it as precise as what he has been interpreting.
The Deputy will have to get Deputy Cruise-O'Brien's dictionary.
It does not give the definition of "scholarship" as such but it does make reference to "scholar" in relation to the word "scholarship", which in fact is undergraduate or child admitted to a foundation usually after an entrance examination. That is a "scholar" in the sense of a scholar of Trinity College. Unfortunately it seems extraordinary that the word "scholarship" is not here. I am afraid the more I look at it the less I see of the word "scholarship". Frankly, it seems a very poor dictionary in that respect. I thought it was a word in common use in the English language. This is only the concise dictionary. Deputy Cruise-O'Brien very properly had the full Oxford Dictionary with him. I should have taken the same precaution but I did not realise we would have the same kind of debate.
You need nothing but the best.
I do not want to waste time on this because we have many other things to discuss. We have established that the Minister has a reasonable case for exercising control over a particular kind of financial assistance akin to grants, that is to say financial assistance designed to help people who could not otherwise afford it to attend the full course of study over the period of years involved at the particular institution.
We have shown willingness to consider legitimate claims and we have pointed out that the phraseology used here would extend to every kind of internal award. The Minister has not suggested why he should have this power in regard to internal awards. He does not seem to want it and I suggest that between now and Report Stage he would consider the introduction of whichever amendment would be necessary to achieve his original objective of not impinging on the autonomy of this body in regard to the provision of internal scholarships of the kind the Minister accepts in regard to the universities and other educational institutions.
I am afraid I must repeat that to a certain extent the Deputy is playing with words. He is emphassing the word "scholarship" which, fortunately, he was not able to find the meaning of in the dictionary. Other Deputies opposite see the point I am trying to make.
We wish the Bill made it for the Minister.
We have had a reasonable discussion to date——
I only said that we wish the Bill would make the point.
That is not what the Deputy said.
I accept it is what the Deputy meant. I tried to explain what I had in mind and why I felt it necessary that I should have this kind of control. I accept that in relation to scholarships other than internal scholarships there could be a different connotation. For that reason I will take a look at it before Report Stage and see if I can rephrase it.
In a way acceptable to all sections.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 4, subsection (2), to delete paragraph (i) and to substitute the following paragraph:
"(i) providing courses of study in art, crafts and design—
(i) that are approved by any body established by the Minister or by Act of the Oireachtas after the passing of this Act for the purpose of granting degrees, diplomas and other similar educational awards, and
(ii) that lead to the grant of such degrees, diplomas or similar educational awards by that body.".
In the course of the Second Reading debate Deputy FitzGerald raised the point that we were referring in the Bill to a body which had not yet been set up by the Oireachtas and for that reason I promised I would have the subsection redrafted so as to take cognisance of this. I feel the change I am proposing brings the Bill into conformity with good law.
I move amendment No. 6 :
In page 5, line 1, to delete subsection (4).
I propose to delete this because I felt it was too restrictive especially in relation to a body of artists who are also concerned with crafts. Art covers a wide field although colloquially it is taken to mean painting and sculpture.
The impossibility of defining art has been accepted.
What about amendment No. 5?
It has been agreed to.
So was No. 4 during the Deputy's absence.
I trust that in my absence the Minister saw the merit of my point and that he agreed to look at the matter.
I agreed to look at it to see if I could rephrase it.
It is proposed to discuss together the following amendments : Nos. 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 20 to 29 inclusive, 31 to 34 inclusive, 36, 40 to 42 inclusive, 44, 45, 48 to 51 inclusive, 54, 56, 57, 59, 61 to 64 inclusive. Amendments Nos. 68 and 72 are consequential.
I move amendment No. 7 :
To delete subsections (1) and (2) and substitute the following :—
"(1) There shall be a College Council of An Bord with nine members of whom one shall be the Director and none of whom shall be a civil servant.
(2) The College Council shall annually elect a chairman from amongst its members."
We accept that this body would be called a board but we wish to provide that this board would be run by a college council. I trust the Minister will recognise the diligence I have shown in tracking down the places in the Bill where this amendment is needed. What bothered me here was the approach to an educational institution. In only calling them a board in the first instance the Bill implies that they are not in the same sense as any other State-sponsored body. That is what a corporate body are called but the supervising body of this institution is also called the board and in this way we are identifying a corporate body with a ruling body. We are equating this educational institution with any other State-sponsored body and this seems to me to be unfortunate.
My remedy is that the board should be called a college council. I am not concerned chiefly with the phraseology here but calling them a college council seems to identify them with academic and administrative functions. It seems to me we should delete the relevant subsection here because otherwise we identify and recognise that this educational body are akin to other State institutions such as the ESB, Bord na Móna and so on. If the Minister wants to use another term, using academic phraseology, I will be satisfied but I do not like the idea of linking this body with other statutory bodies set up to supply electricity or turf.
This is not a vital amendment from the point of view of affecting the running of the body but in any educational institution there is special importance in the words we use and their symbolism. I do not think it will help this body to get the support or to command the allegiance of staff and students if the body in legislation look like the semi-State bodies supplying goods or services. The suggestion in my amendment will make it easier to get acceptance among staff and students. Although it is not of great practical importance, it is of enormous psychological and academic importance. I hope the Minister will meet us in this amendment. It cannot be very essential to him, in the sense that the particular phraseology he has used is of particular importance to him, but it could be of great importance to the people in the body.
The Deputy mentioned that he substituted the words "college council" where they referred to the ruling body or in its capacity as the ruling body of an institution.
That is right.
The Deputy left "an Bord" where it referred to the institution itself?
That was my intention. May I give an example : In section 10 I suggested that the first of the two references to "an Bord" should be changed. Section 10 reads :
A member of An Bord shall be paid, out of the funds at the disposal of An Bord, such allowances in respect of expenses as the Minister, with the approval of the Minister for Finance, may determine.
I suggest that it should read "A member of the college council shall be paid out of the funds of the Bord". This would be much more sensible. That is the kind of thing I have in mind.
I have what I think is a point of order. I understand that we are discussing amendment No. 7 and that there are a large number of consequential amendments, the numbers of which were read out. I have listed here amendments which I consider to be consequential ones. In my personal estimate I thought amendments Nos. 36-40 were consequential and that Nos. 42 and 44 were also, but I think amendment No. 41 was called out.
My opinion is that amendment No. 41 is not consequential.
That is right. There was a mishearing.
To be frank I do not see much point in the amendments here. I am quite happy with the word "Bord". I do not see any reason why it should be changed. I am not going to go into any detail in relation to the drafting aspect of it. From a study I have made, some of the amendments seem contradictory. The amendment with regard to the college council relates to section 6 which deals with membership. But "an Bord" has been established under section 4 and given functions under section 5. In my view, the effect of the amendments in section 6 is to establish a council with no functions and "an Bord" which cannot be given members. I am not placing any particular blame on the Deputy for this. The Deputy appears to be attempting to appoint a college council of a board which has no membership. I do not see any particular reason why we should accept these amendments. "An Bord" is in my view quite satisfactory.
Might I suggest to the Deputy, as he said that this matter is not something that goes to the root of the Bill, that he may be unduly influenced by the word "Bord" itself and the normal meaning of it in commercial affairs. If the Deputy's amendments were to be accepted or a similar attempt was made to have two such bodies there would be difficulties. In the definition section alone, one would have to have the "college council" defined. The Deputy has not amended that. Secondly, one would have to establish clearly the relationship between An Bord and the college council. The legal relationship as such would have to be established, or the relationship between the two other institutions or bodies the Deputy is talking about. That would pose a big problem. If the Deputy looks at his amendment in relation to the use of the seal of the board, he will see that when there is no legal connection between these two bodies, one cannot have a seal used as freely as the Deputy's amendment would allow it to be used. It might be no harm to illustrate it from the amendment to section 12. The amendment reads:
In subsection (2), in lines 29 and 30 and where it secondly occurs in line 31 to delete "An Bord" and substitute "the College Council".
That would leave it reading "the seal of An Bord shall be authenticated by the signature of the chairman of the college council or some other member thereof authorised by the college council to act in that behalf and the signature of an officer of An Bord authorised by the college council to act in that behalf." The Deputy will see that when he has not established the relationship between the college council and An Bord it is going beyond the limits of legal authority or, indeed, any kind of authority to imply that the college council and the chairman of the college council could, in fact, direct the use of the seal of An Bord. There are other matters in relation to section 17 (8). The fact is that the gaps will be there and they will be there no matter what anyone does. This should clearly indicate the difficulties. Section 17 (8) reads:
The procedure for the selection of persons for appointment as whole-time officers of An Bord shall be determined by An Bord with the approval of the Minister.
The Deputy's amendment would cause great difficulty there because we do not know how the college council could determine the procedure, having no clear relationship to An Bord. I admit that the Deputy is not insisting on these particular words but if he could agree that the analogy which he seems to be concerned about with regard to semi-State bodies does not necessarily apply, this is not a matter of concern. Effectively, one body should be capable of doing this rather than be harassed in any way by the presence of another body for the sake of words.
The Parliamentary Secretary has shown up defects in drafting. Fundamentally, I made a mistake in approaching this by trying to retain both the college, which is defined in section 2, and the college council. I should have made a clean sweep of An Bord and stuck to the concept of a college with a college council. I found the concept of "An Bord" extremely confusing. Quite clearly, the reason is that there is a college which exists and is defined in section 2. We all know what it is physically and we know what its property is. Then there is the concept of "An Bord". At some points An Bord is a reference to the institution as a whole, and is really the college under another name. That is all right in the Electricity Supply Board, because we are used to the concept of the board being called the Electricity Supply Board, meaning the whole institution. I have complicated things because unlike the ESB case we have now got a three-fold distinction. If the amendment were re-drafted so as to retain the concept of the college and if section 4 (1) were re-drafted it would read:—
4.—(1) There shall, by virtue of this section, be established on the establishment day a body to be known as the College Council of the National College of Art...
...College Council of an Choláiste Náisiúnta Ealaíne is Deartha to perform the functions given to it by this Act...
If from the very beginning we had brought in the college council and then throughout the Bill referred to the college or the college council and got rid of "An Bord" altogether, which is a very confusing concept——
The Deputy would seem to be saying that by substituting all through from the beginning the words "college council" or "Bord"——
No, not quite. Take some of these sections to which we have referred. "An Bord" is used in a very ambiguous sense. This is about the seal. You could not say "the seal of the college council"—you could, I suppose, but it would be legally incorrect—"shall be authenticated by the signature of the chairman of the college council". I am sure words to that effect exist in the charter of the university. You do not say, I think, "the seal of the governing body"; you say "the seal of University College, Dublin, shall be authenticated by the president of the college, the chairman of the governing body" or whatever it may be. The truth is that "An Bord" in some cases means the college and in some cases it means the college council. It would be much clearer if we decided to stick to that and avoid the confusion of the college which once it is mentioned in section 2 disappears altogether and then re-emerges as "An Bord" which is at the same time an executive body running An Bord which is, in fact, the college. There has been a bit of confusion in drafting which I failed in my attempt to clarify, and I wonder whether it would be worth looking at this to tidy it up. To call this "An Bord" to begin with and to call the body running it "An Bord" does not help in a situation where the institution has not a very happy record, where we are trying to get it established as a normal academic institution which would look and sound as academic as possible. I would prefer, if I get any encouragement from the other side of the House, to go away and redraft the amendment along those lines for the Report Stage so that at every point you would have either "college" or "college council" and remove "An Bord".
I would feel that if we were to go away and try to do anything with this we would make confusion more confounded. The Deputy mentioned that the board is the institution. Of course, the board is not the institution; the institution is the college, Coláiste Náisiúnta Ealaíne is Deartha. I would be inclined, perhaps, to compare it with the board of Trinity College. I do not think the fact that Trinity College is governed by a board detracts in any way from its academic standing. Therefore, I think it would be better to leave well enough alone in this case.
I have not matched Deputy FitzGerald's industry in putting down a large number of amendments, but I do find that there is a real difficulty here. Whatever the solution to it is, there is certainly confusion here. The word "college" has a fairly clearly understood meaning that has evolved. If there is a seal or something like that, it is the seal of the college. If we leave names entirely out, there are the whole group of people involved in the work, the teachers, students, administrators and the lot; you might also add in the buildings, the site and the whole thing, and that is the college. Then within that there are a group of people in whom authority is vested. This does not have to be a school of art; this is pretty well any institution. Separate from that group in whom authority is invested there is an executive. Those are the three stages: first, the collective word for all of the persons, students, teachers, administrators; secondly, the fountainhead of power and of decision inside the organisation; and, thirdly, the actual executive. Reading the Bill in this particular case without any overtones but merely with a desire to understand, it does seem to me there is some confusion there and I would wish the Minister to clarify this, to indicate if my scheme of a college, then a source of authority and then an executive is a valid description of the way he intends to structure the whole art college; and if it is, what are the appropriate names for each of these levels and more specifically, what is the extent of the definition of the word "board" as it is used in this Bill?
I think, very simply, the college is the institution and the board is the governing body, and I do not think there is anything more that can be said about it.
Is there any distinction between the governing body and the executive then?
The board will govern the college and there will be a director responsible for certain aspects of the government of the college. I do not see any reason at all for making a change.
There is a director and a register to deal with the executive side.
It may be that there is a basic confusion in my mind, but I felt that when you talked of the seal of "An Bord" that this must be the seal of the college. It is not the seal of the college council or the governing body or whatever it may be. Therefore, where I saw a reference to the seal of "An Bord" that conveyed to me that, perhaps, "An Bord" was not simply the executive body within the college but was, in fact, the college constituted as a statutory body. Similarly, where I read in subsection (8) of section 17 the procedure for the selection of persons for appointment as whole-time officers of An Bord, they are surely officers of the college, not officers of the college council. I am calling it the college council to distinguish it; we know it is the executive body we are talking about. Surely it could have a secretary to look after its meetings, but the officers of the college, the staff, professors, lecturers and so on, are not officers of the college council. We do not talk in the university of the lecturers as being officers of the governing body—if they are officers at all, if that is the right legal phrase—but officers of the college. If I am confused about this, the confusion is not entirely confined to me. "An Bord" is being used in section 17 (8)——
Section 4 (2).
In fact, section 4 starts the thing off. I am wasting my time. The argument is made in section 4(2). Section4 (2) defines "An Bord" as being a body corporate. If it is a body corporate it cannot simultaneously be the college council running the place. Perhaps it can; maybe this is a legal way of handling State-sponsored bodies; I suspect this is, in fact, the way it is done but it is quite inappropriate to treat an educational body like that. As I say, in section 4 (2) "An Bord" is described as a body corporate. Section 17 (8) and certain other sections refer to the seal or officers of "An Bord"; and we are talking about the seal or officers of a body corporate. But in the rest we are talking about the college council, which is quite a different thing. I do not think any educational institution has identified the two. Certainly, if I tried to insist that the members of the governing body of UCD are the college, the body corporate, and the rest are officers of the governing body, I should get short shrift from my collegues on the staff right down through the whole range of staff, and not just the academic staff, but the other staff as well at such a suggestion, So, if I am confused, I think the Bill is confused. It seems to me we should clarify this.
I do not think that follows.
It does not follow. I am sorry. I am saying that, if I have been confused in my amendments, this reflects the basic confusion in the Bill, which I freely admit I have failed to clarify. But I do not see how you can define a board as a body corporate in section 2 and then turn around and have it as a body corporate with a "C", as a body corporate with officers and servants, and then turning up all over the place as the executive body rather than a body corporate, as an executive council, if you like, or a board of directors. They are two quite different things in any educational institution I have ever heard of. I think it is a mistake to confuse them and I think, in the light of the discussion now, we ought between this and Report Stage see if we can sort this out and get away from this triple usage of the college, of the board as a body and the board as a group of eight or ten people carrying out the functions and running the thing.
I do not think I would be willing to take another look at this because, as I have already pointed out, the board is part of the institution and the institution is An Coláiste Náisiúnta Ealaíne is Deartha. I can see some similarity in the situation in Trinity College, in which there is also a board. I do not know that the fact that the board is a body corporate interferes with this in any way. Nobody except the Deputy has referred to a college council. To me it seems to be clear enough the board is the governing body of the college and I can see no reason why we should change it.
If the Minister is clear that the board is the governing body of the college, what does he mean by putting in section 2 that the board is a body corporate?
That gives it legal status. It is necessary to say that to give it the status of a body corporate, but that does not exclude its right or authority to carry out the other functions.
Is the Parliamentary Secretary suggesting that the board of Trinity College is a body corporate, that the staff and officers are the staff and officers of the college and the seal is the seal of the board of Trinity College because, if he is, I suggest that he is wrong? In fact, in any institution it is the executive which exists as a body corporate—Trinity College, Dublin, or Dublin University, in fact.
All I am suggesting is that by virtue of the fact that you confer legal status on it you do not automatically exclude it from discharging the functions specified in the Bill.
That leaves me cold.
The analogy with Trinity College is singularly unfortunate on the Minister's part, because there there exists a body which is called the council—I was a member of it—which has considerable powers and is quite jealous of them and is absolutely distinct from the board. I do not think the analogy helps the Minister.
Is the board the board of the university?
It is confused enough without going into Trinity College.
I think we should look at this again.
Is the amendment withdrawn?
I withdraw. I need to look at it again and I think the Minister needs to look at it again.
With amendment No. 9 we can discuss amendment No. 18, which is a cognate amendment.
I move amendment No. 9:
In subsection (3), page 5, line 9, to delete "Minister" and substitute "Registrar".
This amendment seems to be related back to amendment No. 7, but we got so involved in discussing on amendment No. 7 the question of the college council versus the board that the two other features of the amendment were, unfortunately, not discussed and they are, in fact, necessary for an understanding of amendment No. 9; at least one of them is necessary for an understanding of this amendment. I refer to the provision that the director should be a member of the board, that there should be nine members, none of whom should be a civil servant. We did not discuss that because we became too involved in the semantic aspects of the amendment. Perhaps I can come back to that again when I re-formulate the amendment for Report Stage. It is in relation to that part of amendment No. 7 that amendment No. 9 becomes a logical sequence.
What is in mind in amendment No. 9 and what was in mind in amendment No. 7 is that we should move away from the concept of a body in which the chairman is appointed by the Minister, which is proper to a state-sponsored body, and move over to the normal educational practice in which the election of the chairman or president is a function of the body itself, of all the members of the staff, of the college council. It is an internal matter for them to choose their own head. The logical sequence to the Minister appointing the chairman is that the chairman, when resigning, shall address that resignation to the Minister. That follows from this suggestion and that is, I think, basically a mistake. The basic concept is wrong. We should, in fact, have a chairman who comes up from the ranks of the college council and is chosen by it.
As it stands at the moment, the Minister is playing too large a part here. It is proper that he should appoint a certain number of members of the board, or council, or whatever you like to call it. We may quarrel with the qualifications, et cetera, but it is right that the Minister should appoint certain members. In other institutions the members appointed by the Minister or the Government, as the case may be, play a very useful role in bringing to bear considerations of public interest within an institution which may become too inward-looking. I have no difficulty about that. It is when the Minister appoints the chairman and the running of the institution is centred around the chairman that we begin to wonder and to worry. It is not, in fact, the way in which third level institutions, such as universities, operate and it seems to me we should be seeking to create an institution analogous to those that already exist rather than analogous to Bord na Móna, Aer Lingus and other bodies operating in quite a different field. As a necessary consequence of what is proposed in subsection (2) of amendment No. 7, it follows that, if the college council are to elect their own chairman, as is proper in educational institutions of this level, then the chairman, when resigning, should address his letter of resignation to the registrar rather than to the Minister. There is an inter-relationship here between these amendments and we may find ourselves going over the same ground. I do not want to waste time. I will leave it at that for the moment to get the Minister's reaction. It will come up again when we come later on to other aspects of the Bill. It is fairly fundamental. I should like to hear the Minister now before I take up any more time.
My first reaction is that we appear to be discussing a subsection of an amendment which has fallen, subsection (2) of amendment No. 7.
It was withdrawn.
Whether it was withdrawn or otherwise, it has gone. I do not know, therefore, how I can possibly relate an argument to the particular matter. However, this amendment to replace the Minister by the registrar cannot be sustained when one looks at subsection (2) of section 6 and finds that the chairman of the board shall be appointed by the Minister and may be removed from office by the Minister. A logical follow up to that would be that a chairman of a board having been appointed by the Minister would hardly resign that office by way of letter addressed to the registrar.
The Minister will appreciate that this amendment was a logical corollary of amendment No. 7 which amendment has been withdrawn for redrafting in view of the cogent criticism of the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary.
I do not know whether it could be argued that this is consequential on an amendment that is not there. However, the Deputy's main argument was in relation to the appointment by the Minister of a chairman and he said that we should get away from the situation whereby a chairman is appointed by a Minister such as in the case of semi-State bodies. I would refer to the appointment of a chairman by the Minister to the Higher Educational Authority which I think would be analogous to this particular situation.
In what way?
The Deputy was referring to a different type of semi-State body but the Higher Education Authority is an educational body.
A body dispensing Government funds but not involved in teaching anybody.
It has a reference to higher education generally. The point I want to make here is that we had a long argument on this particular matter in relation to the Higher Education Authority. There is no getting away from the fact that the appointing of a chairman of an autonomous body such as this is normally the function of the sponsoring Minister. It is my opinion that a chairman should not be beholden to his colleagues on a board for election to this particular office. He should be in an independent position so that he should be able to deal in an objective manner with the various matters and problems that arise.
In relation to the Higher Education Authority appointment, I consider it to be necessary that we should be in a position to select the person whom we believe is best suited to this particular office. It will not be all that easy to get a person who will be completely satisfactory and it should be the function of the Minister to make this appointment in the same way as it is the function of the Minister in relation to various other bodies which are very similar to this.
I find the introduction of the Higher Education Authority as a relevant comparison to be not only surprising but so removed from the matter we are discussing as to be irrelevant. We have been trying to exchange serious argument and to listen to each other's point of view—to use a cliché, we have been trying to communicate. There is no comparison whatever between the person with executive power in an actual educational institution which teaches people, a very difficult and sensitive area, and the chairman of a body responsible for policy and finance in education as a whole. If the Minister wishes to make relevant comparisons he should look to persons who have that sort of authority in universities.
The Minister said it would be very difficult to find somebody who would be completely satisfactory and he is retaining for himself and for the members of his Department the right to judge who is completely satisfactory. My opinion is that anyone who would be completely satisfactory to the Minister would be disastrous as the head of an art school or would be the exact opposite of what is needed because we are now at the heart of the question of authority and of how an art school should be run. As I see it, the Minister for Education has responsibility in regard to general policy and in regard to the use of public moneys in education where his judgement can extend. All our experience and all the experience of other countries indicates that the effort to extend that judgement into the control of a school of art ends in the sort of disaster that we have and there is no way out of that sort of confrontation. The profound alienation of student bodies and some teachers is comparable with the North of Ireland where one does not know which are Unionists, which are Catholics or which are Protestants because the people have lost the ability to talk to each other and do not trust each other. The alienation in the sphere of art education was brought about because no remedy was taken over a long period during which the situation was screaming for remedy. That somebody who is completely satisfactory to the Minister should be chosen as chairman and that the Minister should believe he has in his ability or that his advisors have it in their ability to chose such a person is an indication of a total failure to understand the nature of the problem of art education both here and in other countries.
When the Bill was introduced I greeted it without any hope of its success in the question of solving the problem of art education. I am prepared to discuss amendments as they arise on the basis that later the whole matter will have to be dealt with properly in any case and that one might conceivably succeed in making it a little less awful. But does the Minister think he will succeed by retaining this power, this power which is a blueprint either for the continuation of the sort of inadequacies that have passed for art education during the past half century or, else, for the sort of breakdown that we are witnessing now? If the attitudes the Minister has expressed are put into practice, there will be no solution to the problems of creative work. The Minister said that there is no getting away from the fact that the selection of the chairman of such a body is normally the prerogative of the Minister. A school of art is not a place where boots or peat briquettes are produced or where electricity is generated; and if there is no getting away from the fact that the Minister must choose the chairman of such a body, then, there is no solving of the problem of art education in this country.
Most of Deputy Keating's comments are based on the fact that art is a sphere apart. Nobody will deny that. Art as a criterion that applies either to art education or to the promotion of art differs from the criteria applied to other levels of education or to cultural activity, but it does not follow that when one approaches a board that are concerned with the management of a college of art, one must disregard all other similarities and say that each one of them is inappropriate by definition.
That is what is being done.
That is not what I said. Make it a third level institution.
On that point which the Deputy has made himself, one of the first—I suppose one could call it third level institutions or higher institutes of study—established here was established in the forties. Deputy FitzGerald may smile at this. When the Institute for Advanced Studies Act, 1940 was being put through the House, section 7 of that Act—and there were some distinguished predecessors from both the Deputy's party and Deputy Keating's party here at that time—provided that the constitution of such a governing body as a board should consist of a chairman appointed by the President on the advice of the Government. That did not appear to cause any reaction against the effective functioning of the Institute for Advanced Studies or cause an implication such as Deputy Keating reads into this, that by definition any person who would be suitable or appropriate from the Minister's point of view would be disastrous as head of an Arts school. Does Deputy Keating imply that, in fact, the Minister, whoever he might be, should have no association with an Arts school?
As little as possible.
As little as possible.
Nonetheless, and even enlightened Deputies might concede this, if a Minister is providing funds for various things we have already discussed, and will discuss again, it is essential and urgent that there be at least some level of relationship between one and the other. If the example of the Institute for Advanced Studies is not enough I think it must be accepted that here probably, apart from that Act, we are moving into a new area. It is not every day in this Parliament legislation of this kind is introduced providing for the management and structure of a third level institution or institution of Art or any other third level institute. There are not many precedents; I think hardly any, with that possible exception.
Except that bad one.
As I said, some distinguished predecessors of the Deputy, Deputies Dillon and Mulcahy, were here at the time and raised other points in relation to that measure but apparently had no objection to this particular point. Perhaps we have all become more enlightened with the times. One can also become more suspicious with the times.
That is possible.
Certainly the type of suspicion that appears to give rise to Deputy Keating's foreboding of blueprints for either inadequacy or breakdown give me little hope of encouragement to the students, the staff or the public, when a Member of the House appears to see nothing else in the provision. I may even go as far as to suggest that if it is not a grim foreboding it may even be an invitation and if the Deputy would weigh his words——
That is typical, is it not?
The Deputy is fairly free in implying that any appointments made by anybody here would of their nature by definition be disastrous.
I think the Parliamentary Secretary has said more than he meant there and I do not think it is a justified implication. I was interested to hear the Minister's justification of this and the Parliamentary Secretary's. They are rather different. The Minister's justification was that the HEA were organised in this way. When that Bill was going through we pointed out that they were being structured very closely on the Institute for Advanced Studies which we said was an extremely bad precedent. We went on to point out that among State bodies generally it was interesting to find that the one which had the tightest control through every possible mechanism was the Institute for Advanced Studies. It was of interest that the same Department of Education, when establishing a State body of this kind of research 31 years ago, felt it necessary to introduce such tight control over the autonomy of this body and that in all the years since no other Department dealing with commercial affairs or administration of State funds through An Bord Fáilte or Córas Tráchtála, for example, ever found it necessary to adopt practices involving such tight rein. Only again when we come back after 31 years to the Department of Education, when for the first time in 31 years we have a Bill setting up an educational body, the HEA Bill, we are back again with the same attempt to get control over every detail of administration of the body. On the HEA Bill we fought these constant references to the power of the Minister. We did not get very far. I am glad to admit that we got further today on this issue when dealing with the previous section.
The Deputy got reasonably far on the HEA Bill.
Not on this issue.
No, but on other issues.
On this issue of ministerial control we did not make any progress. It is interesting that now for the third time in 31 years we have a Bill before us and of all the Bills that came before us setting up bodies, it is only the three from the Department of Education that have involved such an attempt to secure such a tight measure of control in an area where it could not be less appropriate and of its nature inappropriate.
It must not be taken that this tight measure of control is confined to the Department of Education. We have not mentioned others because they do not seem to be appropriate.
I am not relying on the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned it now but on the fact that in the HEA debate there were aspects, which I would have difficulty in naming now in detail, of that Bill to which the only analogy we could find, and it was put to us in the discussion on that Bill, was the previous educational Bill and where we were able to point to the fact that in other State bodies there was no such analogy. I think I am right in saying that in certain aspects—I am not prepared to go particularly into the question of the chairmanship of the board—the tight control of bodies exists only in these three cases from the Department of Education. We know where the original inspiration came from when the first Bill was introduced. The respect of the Fianna Fáil Party for their founder is something we can understand but that it should be carried to such an extent that every educational institution established thereafter must be modelled on the same system of tight departmental control is a little unfortunate. I can think of better monuments to raise to the President of the country who was at one stage President of the Executive Council and then Taoiseach.
We really have an important issue here. In any third level educational institutions the right of choice of the institution itself of its head is fundamental, by a curious accident of history dating back to a period when the idea of any body having any autonomy in this country or Britain was not readily accepted. Theoretically in Trinity College, Dublin, the Government do appoint the head, the Provost. The theoretical system does reflect on the whole approach in Elizabethan times to education. I should have thought that even if we are in the British sense in neo-Elizabethan times now we do not have to insist on adopting the same methods that Queen Elizabeth adopted to ensure adequate control over an educational institution for the Anglicisation of Ireland. We should have got further than that at this stage. In fact, although in theory in Trinity College, the choice is made by the Government, in practice I understand names are put forward by the college, three names, and in practice as far back as this State goes— I do not know how long before that— the first name on that list is selected by the Government. In fact, our Government have very properly conceded in practice, without bothering to change the charter of Trinity College, a rather complicated business, the right of Trinity College to select its own head just as that right was conceded by the British Liberal Government in consultation with the Irish Hierarchy and the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1908 to the Colleges of the National University of Ireland.
The changes in approach from the time of Queen Elizabeth I to the practice of the British Liberal Government in 1908 and the Irish Government since this State was founded were changes for the better and a recognition of the importance of autonomy in third level institutions. It is curious that the Minister should insist on going back now to this earlier practice, quoting as his one analogy the Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Parliamentary Secretary quoting his one educational analogy. I do not allow the HEA at all as being relevant because it is a body disbursing funds and in that respect it is nearer to Córas Tráchtála or Bord Fáilte. It is not an analogy with this and we did resist this in that debate also. I cannot accept this as a valid analogy. I cannot accept that we should now go back to the system which Queen Elizabeth introduced in 1591.
This is an educational institution at third level. The Minister must have the right to appoint some members of the board. I think he will be concerned to appoint people of a high calibre. I hope so and I hope he will have regard to the widely differing attitudes of people in the art world, in the different forms of art, and that he will not confine his appointments when the time comes to people with a particular viewpoint and that, so far as possible, they will be people likely to be in sympathy with the aspirations and ideals of the students in the college. I am sure he will have regard to that as an element in the choice of members of the board.
Having appointed these members, and the students and staff having selected their members and, if an amendment of mine is accepted and thought worthwhile by the Minister, the Art Teachers' Association having appointed their member, it is for them, as it is for the governing body of UCD, or the board or council, whichever it is, of Trinity College, to decide who they want amongst their own numbers or from other ranks, to head that institution. That is the dignified way in which an academic institution at third level should be run.
There is no justification for departing from that and for reverting to the precedents of Queen Elizabeth, and her successor in this country, the administrator of this country being our present President, in the Institute of Advanced Studies Bill, 1940, when the much better precedents of the British Liberal Government in 1908 and the practice of our Governments in relation to Trinity College since 1922 could have been followed. I would press this on the Minister. I fear that he may not agree with me. I fear that his mind is set on this. I fear that he sees an analogy, which I think is totally invalid, with the HEA and an analogy which, though valid, with the Institute of Advanced Studies, is undesirable. I would hope, nonetheless, that he would reconsider it. This is pretty important. We are coming now to one of the important areas of the Bill, an area where if we make a mistake, it may have unfortunate results.
I hope Deputies on the other side will not accuse me in saying that of trying to provoke trouble. We have all had enough trouble on this front. We have all had our time absorbed—and by "all" I mean all of us who are discussing this matter here this evening —by having to listen to the different problems and viewpoints of two groups of students and two groups of staff. It is our earnest wish that this new board will be a success and that it will succeed in getting the confidence of all the students and all the staff, and that we in this House will be able in future, as long as the College of Art remains beside us there, to pass in and out, glancing across to see a group of people walking in and out of their college in a friendly manner rather than congregating in an occupation of glaring at each other with hostility. That is what we aim to achieve.
In saying that the Minister's approach to the chairmanship may not help to achieve that, I do not intend to be provocative or unhelpful—quite the contrary. I am seriously and genuinly concerned that we should not in this, or in any other respect, make mistakes that may make it difficult for the college to get off the ground as a third level educational institution, run in the same kind of way that other academic institutions are run, in a manner that will command the confidence and respect of its students and its staff.
I do not agree with the imposition of a chairman however notable or eminent he may be. I do not think Deputy Keating meant what he may have seemed to have meant in saying that the Minister could not choose the right person. I would share his fear that the Minister may not choose the best person because it is a difficult decision for him to make. I would be a little in doubt as to whether I myself, if I were Minister for Education, would necessarily choose the best person. Having appointed a number of people selected from a fairly wide range, and having put them together with the representatives of the staff and students, I would prefer to leave it to them to choose their head. Having appointed, I would hope, some good people, if I were in the Minister's position, and having left it to the staff and the students to choose their representatives, I would have confidence that they together would choose the right person to head their institution, just as I hope each of our universities when the time comes for them to choose their head —and in my college we will be doing that before long—will choose the best person.
I cannot really believe or say in this House that, for example, University College, Dublin, would be better off if the Minister chose the President than if he were chosen by the Senate of the NUI on the recommendation of the governing body. If the Minister would see this institution as a third level institution akin to, though necessarily different from, the universities rather than in the form of a State body he could approach our viewpoint and bring himself to see that we are talking sense on this issue. I recognise that this body will be somewhat different from a university in a number of important respects. As Deputy Keating has said, those differences so far as running it are concerned, are differences that will require more flexible running than universities.
The whole business of art and the teaching of art requires, above all, a light and very intelligent hand and the minimum of Establishment intervention from any source. As much as possible the organisation to run it should come well up from within the institution itself. The failure to achieve that to date, for historical reasons for which none of us in this House is to blame, has created the problems which are facing us now. Do not let us recreate them. Let us take the opportunity to give this body every chance to get off the ground. Let us do that by ensuring that the council, or board, whatever you may call it, when appointed can choose their own man, the man they have confidence in, the man who, in their judgment, is most likely to command the confidence of all concerned. There may be other ways of achieving this. The Minister may feel that he should have the right of formally appointing the person on the nomination of the board. I do not mind what the formality is so long as the actual choice lies with the board or college council. That I feel may well prove essential to the success of the institution.
I am afraid that the Deputy's historical lecture has not convinced me on this. Before dealing with what he has said, I should like to refer back for a moment to what Deputy Keating said. He claimed it to be a fact that the appointment of the chairman by me would prove to be a disaster. Of course, he is quite entitled to his own opinion but I object to any suggestion by him—and it appears to have been his suggestion—that the recent trouble in the college was the complete responsibility of my Department. I have said on many occasions here that I did not feel that a Department of State was the most suitable body to run a college of art. This is not, however, to say—and I want to emphasise this—that the officials of my Department were not very dedicated people who did a very worthwhile job over the years just as the vast majority of the teachers in the college did excellent work over the years——
And even some of the students.
And the students, yes. Most certainly some of the students. The results underline that. I should also like to point out in relation to the recent troubles in the college that I have had a number of letters sent to me and signed by a considerable number of students dissociating themselves from what happened. I do not want to go into any detail on this matter but I want to underline very clearly the fact that very much of the propaganda in relation to the college was untrue to say the least of it. I was rather amused at times to see letters from people who had been students in the college and who had got on very well in the world since then, condemning for its inadequacies a college which quite obviously enabled them to reach a reasonable level in the field of art. As I say, I do not want to go into that except to defend the dedication of the officials of my Department who worked over the years in that college.
If I might come back to the point mentioned by Deputy FitzGerald in relation to my desire to have a tight measure of control over the college, this is very, very far from being true. In actual fact, if you look at the Bill you will find that for the first time ever students are being included on the board of the college as well as teachers. This in itself is proof that I am not trying to keep any sort of tight control on the board of the college.
Except to appoint the majority and the chairman.
The Deputy accepted that I was entitled to appoint some members to the board. He hoped that I would ensure that the people appointed to the board would be of a high reputation in the world of art. I assure him that I will endeavour to ensure that this will be done. Then, must he not also accept that, if I am to appoint a number of members to the board, equally if I decide that I should appoint a chairman of the board, I would also endeavour in exactly the same way to ensure that a person I would appoint would be the best possible person for that particular position?
I cannot see any reason, if it is accepted that I should appoint members to the board and that I am capable of appointing the best possible types to the board, why I should be denied the right to appoint a chairman for the reasons I have already given. I do not want to go back over them again. I feel that in this particular situation the proper thing to do is to leave the appointment of the chairman, as well as some of the members, to the Minister and to, as I have already done, give the students and the teachers a reasonable and fair representation on the board also which, as I said, is an unprecedented step.
I was interested to hear the Minister say that he had given the reasons why he ought to appoint a chairman and that he did not wish to repeat them. I did not hear him give any reasons.
The Deputy can read the Official Report.
I heard no justification. I heard an analogy with the Higher Education Authority, which teaches nobody, and the Institute for Advanced Studies, set up thirty odd years ago, which teaches a tiny number of PhD students, I think, or possibly nobody. If they teach anybody it is a handful of specialists at a high level and no undergraduates, no first degree people. That these two institutions should be dragged in as validation when both of them are utterly and palpably and indeed ridiculously irrelevant is a measure of just how few arguments the Minister possesses. Surely he could scrape up something a bit more relevant. Those were not arguments. I did not hear any arguments.
As to whether the Minister could or could not appoint somebody suitable, I think he could, by acident—I might even approve of the person he appointed. The point I want to make is that any Minister who wishes to take to himself the right to appoint thereby in my view, excludes himself from the possibility of making the right appointment. The fact that the Minister claims this right should be given to him, as far as I am concerned, makes it certain that he does not possess the qualities needed. I can think of many people who ought to be on that board who would decline to serve in the circumstances not alone that the Minister appointed members, which he had the right to do, but that he was determined to appoint a chairman. He will diminish his pool and some of the people he ought to have will not serve in those conditions, and very properly.
What grounds has the Deputy for making that statement?
Knowledge of a number of people, knowledge of the mood, knowledge of the attitude, knowledge of the sense of disgust with the whole arrangement. The Minister needs to have people who represent that strand as well as people who represent the establishment.
So people have already studied this Bill to the extent that they have told the Deputy that, having been dissatisfied with what he terms the whole arrangement, they have stated now that they will not serve?
People have indicated that as far as they are concerned this is not a real but a bogus transfer of power and that they will not participate in the charade. Yes, since the Minister asked me.
Then the Deputy moves in different circles than I do.
Indeed, I do.
Did the Deputy not state that the need for real art education would be solved by another Government at a better time?
And he is sure that that is right, too?
I believe that will happen or I would not have said it. Sooner than the Deputy expects. Sooner than I expected when I uttered those words.
People said: "I will not serve" before, too.
I want to refer to two matters the Minister raised. I did not suggest that the whole of the recent trouble was the complete responsibility of the Minister's Department. I want to suggest that the Minister's Department have a profound responsibility for the recent trouble. It is not exactly the same thing.
It is very close to it.
It is, very close.
Why not say it out?
Successive Ministers for Education failed to institute reforms that were obvious and were long overdue.
The vast majority of the responsibility does lie on the Minister and on those who advise him.
Where does the rest of it lie or has the Deputy worked that one out?
Yes, the rest of it lies on people who in their alienation, in fact, go too far.
Then it all emanates from the Minister and his Department who caused those people to——
Then forget the vast majority. It is all of it.
No, no. The Parliamentary Secretary knows he is twisting words in a way that I did not utter them.
People who, in their frustration, caused by the Minister——
The last point I want to make is in reply to the Parliamentary Secretary who said that by my questioning the validity of the person whom the Minister might choose to nominate as chairman I was contributing to the difficulty in solving the question of art education. That was the first dissent in this debate from the time we were trying to communicate with each other.
The Deputy obviously did not hear his own words.
If the Parliamentary Secretary holds that point of view, if he feels there is a crisis which has to be solved, as I do, perhaps, he might find it in his mind, if not in his heart, to condemn the actions of his Minister in dismissing two members of the teaching staff on the very eve of a solution to the problem because that was the greatest contribution to compounding the difficulty that anybody could imagine. To sit there as Parliamentary Secretary to a Minister who did that and hurl an accusation of causing a deterioration in the situation at somebody else is to indicate just how bankrupt it is possible to become in the retention of office.
On a point of order, again words take on different meanings. I did not suggest, accuse or imply that the Deputy had been responsible for causing anything that has happened up to this time but I did say that the Deputy, in making two statements here very shortly before I made my statement, and he is the one who now implies that I introduced the first note of dissention, said that a person appointed by the Minister would, by definition, be disastrous because of the incapacity of the Minister. If that is not a note of dissention, I do not understand English words any more. Secondly, the Deputy said that this Bill was a blueprint for either inadequacy or breakdown. I said that by using those words the Deputy was implying that these were the only consequences that could arise and that this was irresponsible of him. I did not charge him with having been in any way responsible for what has happened in the college up to this time. When it comes to ascertaining who has been responsible for what the Deputy should at least admit—the record I trust will show this—that he, this evening, was the first person who introduced these notes of personal inadequacy and otherwise. Maybe if we wait here long enough we may all be informed as to what the central characteristics of art are. Some, I would suggest, relate to the essential characteristics of humanity. The greatest artists have been people who, I should imagine, had a tolerance and an understanding of human nature that possibly the rest of us are not big enough to have. Maybe the Deputy and I will both learn a little and thereby become a bit more artistic in our time.
When we start allocating responsibility we get into a difficult arena because the more one sees a particular situation as it has now developed the more akin it is, in miniature, to what has happened in Northern Ireland. How do you allocate responsibility? You allocate it in a sense in time. Who was first responsible for something which led to other events? You allocate it also in terms of who actually held the responsibility to take decisions. In Northern Ireland we properly claim that the British and Northern Ireland Governments, having been in charge, have responsibility and they are to blame rather than the suffering people. In so far as they took certain actions or failed to take certain actions which alienated people we blame the alienation on them because of those failures over time. The failures came first and there was a failure of people with responsibility. Similarly if we are going to start dividing responsibility here of course people are to blame all round; of course the students, the staff, the civil servants and the Minister should have behaved better. What is important, however, is that the responsibility has rested with successive Ministers for Education for 44 years since the first report suggesting that radical changes should be made. There has been a succession of reports since and successive Governments, more particularly in recent times the present Government, did not take any action to deal with the matter, and this led to an alienation of people, just as in Northern Ireland, which has led those people to act in a manner we find difficult to accept just as I find it difficult to accept small children being trained to throw petrol bombs at British troops and other people being encouraged to shoot policemen or put bombs in public buildings. Of course we find it difficult to accept these things. They are things which should not happen but we are right in placing the ultimate responsibility and blame on those who by their actions or inactions failed to introduce reforms at an earlier time. I do not want to dwell on this point in the debate but I do not think we should try to divide responsibility one-third here, two-thirds there. The responsibility lies fundamentally on whoever was in charge for a long time and let the condition fester. That has been done by this Government in particular over the last ten years. While many of the consequential actions are indefensible, as in Northern Ireland, nonetheless the blame and the responsibility go back ultimately to that.
To clear the air and not wishing to introduce any note of undue controversy at this stage I want to establish where I stand. I want to get back to the particular point the Minister is making. He made a statement in which I was very interested indeed. I do not know if he thought about the implications of it. He said, and I am quoting him not verbatim but almost verbatim, "If the Deputy opposite me accepts that I should appoint members to the board why then should I not appoint the chairman?" Does this mean that because the Minister appoints four members to the governing body of UCD, UCC or UCG, therefore he ought to appoint their presidents? He either means that, in which case it would be nice to know where we stand as regards university autonomy vis-à-vis the Minister, or if he does not mean it why once again is he rejecting the analogy with other third-level institutions and drawing his analogy from elsewhere? I see no reason why a Minister who does not seek for any additional power other than the power to appoint some members to governing bodies, should in this instance, claim not only to appoint 50 to 60 per cent of the members instead of the usual 12 per cent in the case of universities but also claim to appoint the chairman, who is the equivalent to the president.
What is there about art, other than its unhappy history of close association with the Minister and his Department—I do not mean this Minister personally but successive Ministers over time—which makes the Minister want to appoint at least half the members and the chairman when he is content to appoint something like 12 per cent of the governing body in other fields of higher education and leave that governing body to choose the head of the institution or, in the case of the NUI, the Senate.
Is the Deputy suggesting that universities were established by legislation brought in by this House? The Deputy keeps mentioning the universities or the governing body of the universities.
I am suggesting that the legislation, the not very enlightened legislation, which founded our universities—I am certainly not one who would stand up and say that out university legislation is adequate, its defects I have spoken of before and I hope to speak of them again when reforms are brought into this House— but with all the weaknesses, defects and deficiencies of the structure established in 1908 at least the British Liberal Government at the time did not claim the right to appoint more than a tiny fraction of the members of the governing body. It never occured to them to claim to appoint the president of the college. Yet 63 years later we have a Minister claiming not alone that he must appoint the majority of the board running a college of art but also that he must appoint the chairman of that board. Why? Let us forget about analogies with the HEA and with the Institute for Advanced Studies; let us just take the College of Art as a third level insitution which we are establishing in 1971 to take its place beside, although not in precisely the same position as, universities here. Why does the Minister claim the right in this instance to appoint the chairman as well as over half the members of the board when he does not claim that right with regard to the universities? What is there about art which brings out this demand for control at ministerial level?
The concept of university has changed quite a bit in 70 years. There is a good deal of concern about the function of universities in the community and to suggest that we go back 70 years to find an established precedent is not very sensible.
When I sit down I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will develop his theme. Is he suggesting that thinking about universities has developed in the last 70 years to the point where we are now thinking of taking on the appointment of the presidents of universities and increasing Government representation from 12 per cent to 60 per cent? Does that represent his thinking? If it does not what on earth has it got to do with what we are talking about?
That is what I am asking the Deputy.
The Parliamentary Secretary is not proposing that for universities?
Why are we talking about criteria for universities when we are talking about the College of Art?
Either the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have in mind a policy to take over the universities by appointing over half their governing bodies and their president or they have not. I have heard nothing to suggest that they have. I do not wish to cast any doubts on this. I should be glad if they would tell the House that they have no such ambition, I presume they will tell us that. If they do tell us that, will they tell us at the same time why they have to have this control over the College of Art? I can think of only one answer to that which is that they have always controlled it and now as they are relinquishing and relaxing that control they cannot conceive of giving up that control. This is something beyond their imagination. Why? Surely to goodness the lesson of history with regard to the College of Art is that the more directly involved the Government are the worse for the College of Art and the Government. I do not think the Government have gained very much over the past three years in the College of Art. What reason is there for wanting this measure of control in this institution when it does not exist in universities and when the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary do not appear to be seeking it? Could either the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary answer that question straight?
I do not see why I should answer a question in relation to the universities when I am dealing with a Bill concerned with the College of Art. First of all, I would point out that the board of the College of Art will be an autonomous board. The Deputy spoke on my references to the appointment of the various members of the board and to the appointment of the chairman. What I said was that if I were regarded by the House as being competent to appoint proper individuals to the board of the College of Art then I would be equally competent to appoint a chairman.
Why does the Minister want to? That is the question.
The Deputy spoke about relinquishing control and this is exactly what we are doing. We are placing the College of Art under the control of an autonomous body.
The majority of whose members and chairman will be appointed by the Minister. I must point out that the Minister has not answered the question put. Not alone has he refused to disclose his thinking about universities——
I do not see why I should.
The Minister has made a claim here that if in relation to this third level institution he has the right to appoint members and if I concede the right to appoint certain members then why should he not appoint the chairman. I am entitled to ask whether that principle laid down by him in relation to this third level institution is one which he applies generally, or whether it is something which he has thought up for a college of Art? It is a fair question.
I do not see any relevancy in it.
Everybody else does.
Who is everybody else? The Deputy?
The public will be judging.
The public have been judging this for some time.
The Minister enunciated the principle with regard to this third level institution that if we concede his right to appoint members we must concede his right to appoint the chairman.
That is not what I said.
If the Deputy wants to take a note of what was said it might be helpful but that expression was never used.
I am sorry I have not used precisely the same words but I think they have precisely the same effect. The Minister said in words to this effect or more precisely: "If the Deputy opposite concedes my right to appoint members to the board, why should I not have the right to appoint the chairman?"
What I had, in fact, said was that if the Deputy opposite conceded I was competent to appoint proper individuals, then I could not see any reason why he could not concede that I was competent to appoint the chairman.
The Minister is now changing his ground.
Let us take it on that level. I am not challenging the Minister's competence to appoint any particular person to any particular job. If that is the principle why are there any other members? If it is only a question of the Minister's competence, if that is the only basis for deciding whom he appoints, let him appoint the lot; let him appoint everybody. But it is not a question of the Minister's competence. The Minister may well be competent to appoint particular people but it may be most undesirable that he should have the power to appoint them or to want to exercise that power.
I would suggest to the Deputy, now that he has had a look at the other side of the picture and referred to the fact that the Minister is giving, for the first time, an opportunity to students to be members of the board——
We will come to that shortly and will be talking about it then, but what is significant——
This is a very important thing. This is far more significant than the appointment of the chairman.
It is very interesting that the Minister should think that the minority representation on the board is more significant than the majority representation on the board, a principle which I do not think he would apply either in the context of Northern Ireland or the Republic in political terms. We can all agree about how the minority are appointed as long as we have control over the majority. It would not matter a damn how the minority are appointed as long as we keep majority control and I do not think that is a particularly convincing argument.
The facts are that the Minister is insisting he should appoint from 50 to 60 per cent of the members of the board and the chairman. He has given no reason for seeking this power for this third level institution. He has not told us what there is about art that makes it necessary for him to have that measure of control, which he does not have and does not seek in relation to universities. He has not attempted to answer that question. I put it to him straight and he changed the subject. That is highly significant.
What the Deputy is suggesting when he is talking about majority is that if I appoint members to the board that those members will be subservient to me.
Not at all.
That is absolutely incorrect.
I did not say that.
What is the point in the majority? What is the point in talking about majorities and minorties?
I pointed out in a previous debate that, far from that being the case, my own experience in relation to the institution with which I am familiar is that the appointments made by successive Ministers have not been of people subserviant to him, people reporting to him or people doing anything other than exercising independent judgment. I am not accusing the Minister of wanting the power to appoint people who will do what he tells them. On the contrary, I have stood over the record even indeed of this Government in this matter and that the record in my own institution has been excellent. I am not suggesting that.
I want to know why does the Minister insist on having the power to appoint these people. I am not saying he is not competent to appoint them. I am not saying he is going to appoint people who will be subservient to him. I am simply asking the question why does he think it important that he should appoint the majority of the board and the chairman. He does not think that important in regard to universities. If the Minister would please not change the subject on the question of his competence or on the question of whether I think he will appoint bad people who will be subservient to him but just stick to the point of why must he make these appointments, majority control and the chairman in this college when he does not claim the right elsewhere.
There must be some reason. There must be something about art that brings out in the Minister the desire to appoint the majority of those people concerned and the chairman. I know nothing about art that explains to me why the Minister should react in this way. I would have thought, from what little I know of the teaching of art in this city, if there is any case anywhere for the Minister not appointing people, or appointing the minimum number of people, to avoid any situation where it can be suggested that he is running the college, that it is under Government control, this is the case par excellence. I know of no case where it is important to minimise, after the history we have had of this place, the intervention of the Minister.
I believe the Minister will appoint the best people he can find. It may be that he will be over influenced by some advice given him into appointing established figures. They may not be the people most acceptable, but I think he will make a genuine effort to appoint good people. That is not the issue at stake here. The Minister should not keep changing the issue but should just stick to explaining one thing. Why does he want this power? He should not tell us of its existence in some other Acts. He does not need it to show he is competent. We are not arguing about that. Why does he want the power? He does not need it in the universities, so why does he need it in the College of Art? Is there any reason, other than the traditional involvement of the Minister for Education and his feeling that in some way this must be perpetuated? If we could get a straight answer to that question we would make rapid progress.
I do not see why I should give a straight answer to that question because I do not think it is relevant at all. I have pointed out to the Deputy that this will be an autonomous board. The Deputy has spent a very considerable amount of his time talking about majorities and minorities and the majority that would be appointed by the Minister. The obvious implication from this was that, because the Minister appoints the majority, the Minister would be controlling the board. I want to say this is absolutely incorrect. When the appointments are made by me the board will be an autonomous body and will not be in any way subject to me in the sense that the Deputy appears to feel.
I accept that.
The Deputy talked a lot about why I should appoint a chairman. I should like to ask why does the Deputy assume that a chairman selected in the manner he wishes would be more suitable or more competent than a person selected by me as the Minister, mind you after getting advice from people competent to give me advice and being also able to take into consideration not only his ability in relation to the art world but also his administrative ability.
I had hoped to ask a secondary question to Deputy FitzGerald's question but in the event it did not matter because it was not answered, so perhaps I will ask mine as a separate question. If the Minister has the right to appoint either half or else a majority of the board and if we concede him at least the possibility of appointing competent people——
As you wish. I choose my words and the Minister can choose his. Then, if we concede the Minister that possibility why will he not then trust those appointees to choose their own chairman?
Exactly. Just to give the Minister a couple of other points to come back on. First of all, he is not being fair to me, frankly, in suggesting that I put forward the view that he wanted to appoint people in order to control the board. The Minister should recall that I was replying to a point he made. He said: "Why not discuss my innovation of having students on the board?" I was saying that the innovation of students and staff representatives on the board was an interesting innovation but it was not the relevant innovation because they would not in fact have a majority. We are not in fact setting up a body in which the staff and students between them would have a majority, for which there are very strong reasons. Therefore, to bring that in when they will not have a majority is not really relevant.
I was not suggesting that the people the Minister appointed would be under his thumb in any way but I was answering the emphasis he was putting on the minority and pointing out it was only a minority and therefore was not relevant in the discussion we were having. The Minister disclosed something of his basic thinking when he asked: "Why should the chairman be more competent if appointed by the board?". It seems to me that the Minister is narrowing this down to competence. First of all, I think it is quite likely that, having appointed a board of this kind which would include two staff representatives, two student representatives and the distinguished people the Minister will appoint, that board is more likely to come to a valid consensus on the competence, likely standing and authority within the college of the chairman than the Minister.
I suppose the Minister could try to take the advice of the student body, that he could try to take the advice of the staff, that he could take the advice either of the people he would be appointing or similar people; but I doubt that that would be as effective, even if he did it. I am not sure he has this in mind. He would find it very difficult to consult the students and the staff as a group or individually. I am not sure that that would be as effective as them all sitting down together jointly to discuss this. The Minister might talk to the students and they would give him some ideas of who the chairman should be. That is if he intends to do this and I am not convinced that he intends to consult them about it. He might then consult the staff and they would give him different ideas. He would then consult people in the are world, the kind of people he might be appointing to the board, and then he will make his decision. Really, it is stretching imagination a bit to think that that will be anything like as effective as the members of this board sitting around a table, the students putting forward their view of the kind of person that is wanted, the staff putting forward their view, the independent representatives, as I shall call the people appointed by the Minister, putting forward their view and then in the dialogue and discussion here a common view emerging as to the kind of person required and then steps taken to secure such a person and to interview him.
It is asking too much to expect us to believe that the Minister on his own, with of course all his other duties to perform, will necessarily as a single person do a better job than such a group of people working together, wholeheartedly concerned and interested in the future of the college which is the whole of their life. There is bound to be a better system. Quite apart from the fact that that system is of its nature more likely to yield somebody competent, not because the Minister would be incompetent to find such a person but because the process of consultation, of its nature, is more likely to be productive of the right kind of person, there is the further point that the Minister notably fails—I was about to say to grasp, but that might be unfair —to advert to, and that is that this man will have a difficult job to do and that therefore he will need to command authority in this institution.
The Minister chooses to think that somebody appointed by a Minister of this or any other Government would command authority in the College of Art. He is being unrealistic. No matter who is Minister, if the Government were changed and if Deputy Keating or I were Minister and appointed somebody, I have no great confidence that no matter how well we selected that person that he would, by virtue of our appointing him, command much authority. On the contrary——
Deputy Keating has that confidence. He is capable of doing it.
I see. I had not understood that from anything he said nor does my knowledge of Deputy Keating's character and disposition lead me to believe that the Deputy's diagnosis is correct. I cannot accept that such a person appointed by this Minister or that Minister will command authority as readily in this institution, with its very difficult history, as the kind of man chosen by the college council where the students, staff and the outside representatives would have come together for this purpose. Authority is a word very much misused and I think that on the other side of the House there is still a disposition to confuse power with authority. I am afraid that in the modern world the two are different things.
Of course the Minister could appoint a man who would have power. The Minister can get power from the Bill to appoint a chairman who would have power to do various things, but that power is useless in the context of the College of Art unless the person has authority, and authority means that you are accepted as somebody who is capable of making valid decisions which will be accepted when they have been made after due consultation in a democratic way.
Basically our concern is that this body we appoint, and their chairman, shall have authority, that they are appointed in such a way that they are most likely to command the respect of students and staff—all the students and all the staff. That will not be easy. The future of this college is in doubt at the moment, not merely because there are many defects in the Bill but because the events of the last few years and the neglect that has led to such events have created deep divisions. This is a tragedy, and those of us who have had contact with both sides and have seen, as Deputy Keating has said, how the truth is different to the two sides— how they see the same events in a different light—realise how difficult it will be and how, it is up to us in this House to make every effort to give them the best chance possible and to ensure that whatever body of people are to run this, and whoever the chairman may be, will command authority and stand the best possible chance of acceptance by the staff and the students, despite the deep divisions among them at the moment. That is our job and I think the Minister must accept that in pressing this issue that is what is foremost in our minds.
First of all I am very glad to note that it is now accepted there were two sides to this problem in the college——
As in Northern Ireland.
——because until recently only one side got a hearing from any source except myself. For a considerable time statements issued by specific individuals appeared to get full publicity while what I might call the silent majority went unheard. Therefore, I am glad to know now that it is accepted a large body of the teachers and students did not accept the type of incident which took place in the college.
Was that ever in doubt?
It was never in doubt in my mind, but from the publicity point of view only one side appeared to be heard, the Department and many of the academics being blamed at all times. As I have said, I am glad to note this is no longer the accepted position. Deputy FitzGerald said it is essential that the chairman of the board should be a person who would command authority. I fully agree, but I do not agree he would have to be a person selected in the manner the Deputy mentioned. He spoke of the students and the teachers and other independent people putting forward their views until finally, through some concensus, they would decide who would be a suitable person.
What that would arrive at is stalemate. As I have said on a number of occasions, the Minister, having consulted with various people of reputation in the artistic world, would be in a better position to decide on a chairman who would command authority, who would be appointed as chairman not only because of his artistic ability but also—this is something very necessary for a chairman—because of his administrative ability. Reference was made to neglect in the college during the past few years.
Forty odd years.
Three years was the period mentioned.
It seemed to have been given as the cause of the recent trouble. I emphatically reject that. In my view, the Minister having all the advice possible tendered to him by people competent in this field would be best able to make a choice of a chairman who would, because of his ability, command authority. When I say authority I also do not mean power. This man would be accepted because of his known ability.
And because of the method of his appointment.
I am certain that, in the rather difficult and peculiar circumstances of the present situation, were you to leave the appointement of chairman to the students, teachers, and independent members, it would end in stalemate with some of the people concerned refusing to accept this person as being suitable. I again wish to stress the fact, I have no doubt about it, that a Minister getting the proper advice— and it would be up to him to get this advice—would be in a position to appoint a person who would command authority.
We do not want to pursue this any longer but I should like to say I still do not understand the Minister's thinking. He seems to be suggesting that people on this body would refuse to accept a person in whose choice they would have a say. I cannot imagine in what circumstances people would react in that way. If the Minister really thinks that the college is in such a condition that if the college council or board are given the power of choosing a chairman and that there is disagreement on that and that some of the members who do not agree with the apointment will reject it, if they are going to reject the chairman where they had a voice and an opportunity to be heard and he was chosen democratically while they had such a voice, then how can the Minister hope that someone whom he imposes on the college will be accepted? This is not realistic. Could the Minister clarify the position before ending the debate and getting the decision? Am I to take it that the Minister would not accept an amendment which would say that the chairman of the board should be appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the other members of the board? If the Minister wishes to have a function in the appointment so long as the selection of the person is by the board, I suppose this could not do any harm. The Minister would be the person formally making the appointment. Would the Minister be prepared to accept such an amendment on Report Stage, or are we wasting our time trying to do anything to ensure that the chairman appointed will be somebody who will have genuine authority derived from having been chosen by the board comprised of representatives of the students and representatives of the staff? If the Minister would be prepared to accept something like that on Report Stage I would withdraw the amendment, otherwise I would have to press it. It is important to get this Bill through. If we are not going to persuade the Minister we must know this now and get on with the division.
I could not imagine anything more divisive than attempting to select a chairman in the manner in which the Deputy is proposing.
Democracy does not work. Is that what the Minister is saying?
Democracy does work. I am going further in the democratic line than has been done before.
The most important single decision that this board would be called upon to make would be the selection of a chairman, if they are given that power. If they are not given that power, representation on the board will be given to the students and to the staff as a charade. The Minister is willing to appoint a board but not to trust them with the most important single decision. All the arguments that the Minister has put forward against the inability of the democratically constituted or even semi-democratically constituted board— because the Minister will have nominated half the people, those whom he euphemistically called "independent members"—but having nominated half of them and having the other half, or less than half, democratically chosen, he then produces the most compelling arguments why this group of people cannot be trusted to make the most important single decision about the chairman. This takes away any authority the chairman might have and any confidence in the board which the elected representatives might have. It reveals the situation as the charade that I am coming to be convinced it is.
I am not convinced by Deputy Keating because from the very beginning he was determined to refer to this Bill as useless. I am even surprised that he bothers to take part in the discussion on the Bill. Instead of endeavouring to improve the Bill, if the Deputy persists in saying that the Bill is useless I do not see what particular interest he can have in it.
In every one of the amendments which I have supported up to now I was trying to indicate ways in which the Bill could be made better. If something starts off very badly there is a possibility always of improvement. By his gracious acceptance of at least the possibility that he would consider changing certain sections the Minister has admitted the possiblity of improvement. I also admit the possibility of improvement while I affirm that the basic document is pretty nearly useless and that if the problem is not solved now it will have to be solved later.
What the Deputy appears to mean is that when he proposes an amendment and I accept it that is good, but when he proposes an amendment which I do not accept that is bad.
The Minister understands it perfectly.
That is a rather peculiar position. If I adopted that position we should not accept any amendments.
On what basis can we put down amendments other than thinking they are good? This is an extraordinary approach, that the Opposition are not entitled to believe their amendments are good.
As it appears to me when we argue our case here and point out what we believe is the proper position the Deputy insists on coming back time and again, although on many other occasions when I felt there was a point which we could accept the Deputy has not pressed it.
In this instance, if we can go back over what was said, the Minister has not answered the only relevant question which is: "why does he want to appoint this chairman and so many members of the board?" We have not got an answer to that. I would suggest to the Minister that it is dangerous when he talks about Deputy Keating saying things that are dangerous because nothing could be more dangerous than this suggestion that the democratic process of people selecting their head is divisive. We have Presidential elections here. People vote for different candidates. In the process of working together in divisions to choose somebody, unity is reached and we have a democratic system with a President who is accepted as the head of the State and who is respected, while some may have more enthusiasm for him than others. The whole democratic system works on that basis. The approach which the Minister is adopting that one must appoint people from above because to have any process of choosing from below is divisive is immaterial to the debate. In this debate the Minister can say that in a particular instance there is reason for a method of appointment, but when he establishes it as a principle that choice is from below divisive—that is something we must challenge. Perhaps the Minister did not mean it that way but it was certainly expressed in a very unfortunate way. Let us not waste time on that. I put something to the Minister. I think he is rejecting it. I was not terribly clear on what was said. Even if we put down an amendment on Report Stage that the chairman should be appointed by the Minister on the advice of the board, am I right in thinking that this would not be accepted?
There is nothing to prevent the Deputy putting down an amendment. I am not going to say that I will accept it either now or then, but if the Deputy puts down an amendment I must consider it. What the Deputy is asking me to do is to give a pre-judgment on this.
Amendments may be well or badly drafted or well or badly conceived. The Minister may have good or bad grounds for not accepting or varying them. Sometimes it becomes clear that the Minister will not accept anything and sometimes he is willing to say under pressure that he will consider the matter "between now and Report Stage". The Minister has said this several times when dealing with amendments. I want to know are we up against a stone-wall attitude? Is it the case that he will not consider giving the choice of the person to the board, while retaining himself the actual formal appointment, or is he going to reject that? Are we wasting time talking about it? If the Minister says he will consider the matter between now and Report Stage the appropriate thing for me to do is to withdraw the amendment. If the Minister is not prepared to consult and to accept the view of the board, then I press for a division. I am only asking for the normal guidance which we get on every amendment.
Before the Deputy comes to that decision, is it not in order to ask the Deputy is he aware that he is not pressing a division on the appointment of the chairman of the board? That has already been withdrawn.
Because of the complications of the succession of amendments on section 7 it is necessary to debate the issue symbolically on amendment No. 9.
Are we to have a symbolic discussion?
Could we have some real discussion now?
How should I interpret that remark? Is it "yes" or "no" in parliamentary language?
The Chair can find out from the Deputy whether he is withdrawing his amendment.
Can I take it that the Minister is prepared to consider this amendment between now and Report Stage?
Does the Deputy want to divide the House? The Deputy will divide the House unless we give way on this?
The debate could take a wrong turn here. We are not children.
I sincerely hope that we are not children.
The debate could take a wrong turning. Let us debate this constructively. The normal procedure is that if there is a possibility of a variation of the principle which the Opposition are trying to put forward being settled, then you wait and see what happens. If the Minister does not put down an amendment on Report Stage——
I know why Deputy Keating suggested he would divide the House, but it does not worry me, in case he has any illusions about it. However, I will consider the matter.
I move amendment No. 10:
To delete subsection (4).
Nos. 10 and 19 are cognate and may be taken together.
Subsection (4) provides that the chairman of An Bord shall hold office on such terms as the Minister determines when appointing him and the ordinary members shall so hold office. This again brings the Minister into the whole affair to much too great an extent and, again by analogy with other institutions of higher education, the normal procedure is that the governing body or authority are appointed for a certain term and when the term ends they are re-appointed by whatever method is laid down in the appropriate legislation. There does not seem to be any reason why this should be varied here and why the Minister should be given a particular control over the term of office of those concerned. If the Minister has any reason for treating the College of Art differently from a university I shall be glad to hear it. I find it hard to understand why this provision should be included.
My main reason for opposing the amendment here was that I felt it might be undesirable for the chairman of An Bord, for instance, to engage in commercial activities allied to art or to be engaged in other activities which would not be in keeping with his position. I feel that I would be entitled to lay down certain conditions which would preclude him from engaging in activities from which he might gain some benefit from being chairman of the board in relation to art.
That sounds very reasonable. Why does the Minister not do just that instead of putting this clause in? The charter of NUI or of Trinity College does not provide that the president or the provost may be dismissed by the Minister because he might engage in some activities that may involve a profit for him out of selling books to the university or something. It is not necessary.
Is this not as good a way——
It is not as good a way. To give the Minister power to remove the head of an academic institution is a very bad way of doing business. I am quite prepared to accept that the Minister may want to lay down certain conditions, that the chairman of the board shall not engage in activities which would be prejudicial to the college or which could involve financial advantage to him—we can draft an amendment to that effect—but I absolutely resist the suggestion that there should be unlimited power of dismissal of the members of the board or the chairman of an academic institution. That principle goes to the root of academic freedom. It is intolerable in any academic institution. The Minister is not seeking the right to get rid of, at a moment's notice the people he appoints to the governing body of UCD, UCC and UCG. He does not even have legislation that requires them specifically not to have an interest in contracts with the college, because that I think is implicit in the whole way the college is run. Why should this be so in the College of Art? If the Minister wants to legislate for what he says he wants to legislate for let him draft an amendment to that effect, but do not let him introduce a provision like this which is inimicable to academic freedom.
I have simply given one example. Does the Deputy suggest that if I had ten different examples I should put every one of them down individually?
I suggest that if there were ten, which there are not, that he should do so.
Nobody said there were not ten.
The Deputy seems to be interpreting the terms the Minister would lay down as being restrictive terms. May be that is an indication of the way the Opposition may sometimes look on legislation of this sort. Is it not just conceivable in the mind of Deputy FitzGerald that the terms might be to the advantage of the chairman or the members of the board? For instance, I think it is fairly clear that this is not a position to which remuneration will attach, but terms too could relate to such things as honoraria or expenses in certain areas. The Deputy might consider that aspect of it also as distinct from regarding them as restrictive terms. As I say, this could be to the advantage of the members of the board rather than be restrictive. There are many other examples that could be given.
I quite understand the Minister might lay down most advantageous terms. He might appoint them for life, or provide them with large sums or give them State cars, but that is not relevant. What I am concerned about is that he will determine the terms of appointment and the terms of appointment explicitly include the right to remove them from office. That we cannot accept.
But this is already in subsection (2) of section 6.
To which we had an amendment down to remove and which has been withdrawn for redrafting. I wish the Minister would not be coming back to that. We are never going to withdraw any amendment if he keeps saying because we withdraw it for re-drafting it is no longer capable of being considered. What is proposed here is that the terms of office of these people should be determined by the Minister. That includes the power to get rid of them if necessary or to vary their terms of appointment to their disadvantage if they do not do what the Minister wants. That is a power which cannot be given in respect of an academic institution. I hope the Minister will withdraw this now and not press it any further.
I do not agree that the Minister is not entitled to suggest the terms on which he will appoint an individual. What is wrong with that?
To suggest the terms?
Put it stronger than that: "The chairman of the board shall hold office on such terms as the Minister determines in appointing him." Therefore if the Minister appoints a chairman he is to say: "You have carte blanche now. Do what you like.” Is that the situation?
The Minister knows perfectly well what the situation is in a third level institution. Would the Minister say what the conditions are when he appoints members to the Governing Body of UCD?
There would, I presume, have to be a statement of some terms.
They are appointed for four years, and the Minister cannot control or influence the terms on which they are appointed. That is the way it should be.
Can we not set down that type of terms here?
Yes. Have a fixed term of office. That is all right, but that is not what it says.
There is a term of office already in the Bill.
The Minister is in a position to vary that and to remove people before their term of office is up. That is precisely my point, that this is unnecessary. The reason why I put this down as an amendment to delete and did not substitute anything is that no substitution is necessary. This is superfluous.
Is the Deputy suggesting that if this was deleted the Minister would be entitled to apply honoraria to the members of the board? That is just one example.
It ought to have— and we can amend the Bill, if necessary —the power to remunerate its own members.
Its own members?
Oh, no. Its servants and officers, yes.
I did not get notice of this question. I would need to think about it for a minute.
It could hardly have the power to remunerate its own members. Its servants and officers, yes.
But that is not what it says. As drafted, it gives the Minister——
What the Deputy is asking is that we should put down every single iota, every possible kind of term.
That is what the Deputy is suggesting we ought to do.
I am not suggesting anything of the kind. This is drafted in such broad terms that it would give the Minister control over the people concerned, power to determine their office, power to vary their remuneration when in office if they do not behave as he wants them to behave. I do not see why there should be remuneration involved particularly. It is not normal in the case of an educational institution.
It did not mention remuneration.
That is what I thought. I do not see why there should be remuneration involved particularly.
What the Parliamentary Secretary is saying is that it could possibly happen that it might be desirable to make honoraria to the board.
The Minister means expenses?
No. We have special conditions in relation to expenses here.
If the Minister wants to write in something in regard to honoraria, that is fair enough, but it is not what this says. This gives him power to vary the appointment to the disadvantage of the people concerned and to get rid of them, if I understand the English language, and that is something I cannot accept in an educational institution.
How could one invite a person to become a member of a board without in some way indicating to him the conditions, interpreting them either positively or negatively, under which he would be expected to serve? How would one explain to him?
He should be appointed for a term of office. That is laid down in the Bill.
To do what?
To be a member of the board acting under the authority given to him under this Bill when enacted. The Minister has no function. He acts under the Bill when enacted. How does the Parliamentary Secretary think the governing body acts?
But even that alone —to be a member of the board discharging the authority under this Act —is not that the term?
That is laid down in the Act itself. You are appointing people to a board which has power laid down in the Act. But are there terms of appointment required? Terms of appointment come in only if you want in some way to be able to control these people, to terminate their office, in some way to put them at an advantage or disadvantage. We do not want the Minister to appoint them in that way. There is no reason to vary it in the College of Art.
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- French, Seán.
- Gallagher, James.
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Is the Ceann Comhairle going by Greenwich Mean Time?
Complaints have been received that the bells were not ringing.
From whom were the complaints received?
From the Opposition.