Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Bill, 1976: Committee Stage (resumed).

Question again proposed: "That section 6 stand part of the Bill."

I think there can be no great objection to section 6 but I should like to ask the Minister if it is his intention to have the election year nomination day mentioned as being 1977 in respect of the State bodies mentioned and if at this stage he has any hopes or ideas when approximately that day might be. If I get that information satisfactorily we can then dispense with section 6.

Of course it depends on how rapidly we can get the Bill through both Houses but it would be my intention to nominate 1977.

In other words, the Minister would be able not later than 15th September to set the date.

That would be my intention.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 7.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 5, subsection (1), to delete lines 39 to 50 and substitute the following paragraph:

"(b) in lieu of such secretary or officer, any person who in the opinion of such secretary or officer is capable of carrying out the functions of returning officer and is acceptable to a majority of the employees of the body."

This is an interpretation of who I believe should be the returning officer, the officer responsible in section 7, which deals with the appointment of a returning officer. Subsection (1) states:

As regards a designated body, the returning officer for the purposes of this Act shall be—

(a) the secretary of the body, or in case there is no such secretary, the officer of the body who performs the functions of secretary of the body, or

(b) in lieu of such secretary or officer, any other person who in the opinion of such secretary or officer is acceptable to—

(i) a trade union or other body of persons which the returning officer is satisfied is both recognised by the designated body for the purposes of collective bargaining and representative of a majority of the employees of the body, or

(ii) two or more trade unions or other bodies of persons which the returning officer is satisfied between them collectively represent the majority of such employees and as regards each of which the returning officer is satisfied that the body is so recognised.

Paragraph (b) is somewhat unwieldy, passing away the appointment from the two people who may or may not agree. This in my opinion would mean that in a general election or local election situation or, indeed, in a presidential election situation the returning officer would be appointed on the basis that he was acceptable to the Coalition parties or Fianna Fáil. I do not think that would be right and this is why I move my amendment, which reads:

In page 5, subsection (1), to delete lines 39 to 50 and substitute the following paragraph:

"(b) in lieu of such secretary or officer, any person who in the opinion of such secretary or officer is capable of carrying out the functions of returning officer and is acceptable to a majority of the employees of the body."

I know the Minister will ask how one can judge whether such a person would be acceptable to the majority of employees. If one is prepared to shop around and get the opinions of the designated persons, surely it is simple to ascertain whether there are any specific objections.

I am sure that in any election all the candidates and parties may like to select their own returning officer but I do not think that would be a desirable practice. Paragraph (a) does not lay down any conditions whatsoever for the officer who performs the function of returning officer. If that is to be the case, surely the appointment that would be made, in other words "any person who in his opinion is qualified and capable of performing the function of returning officer," would then be acceptable.

On the Second Stage I said that much of this Bill is taken up with election details. Those of us who are in this House are quite familiar with election details from practice and experience. The fundamental part of the Bill, limited though it is, is worker participation on the boards of certain State bodies, and we should ensure that this is streamlined as much as possible. The operation of this mechanism must be as clear and simple as possible. There are procedures and patterns to be followed. The returning officer will have a very important role to play. The secretary of the company or the officer who performs his duties will nominate a person whom he believes capable of performing that function and the person should then be acceptable. In the amendment I go further and say:

... and is acceptable to a majority of the employees of the body.

How is that to be decided without another election, something which I should not like to see happening? I urge the Minister to accept the principle of the amendment on the basis that it would be undesirable to have a tug-of-war. Mr. A may be regarded as acceptable. He then consults with groups of workers to whom he may not be acceptable. Neither Mr. B or Mr. C may be acceptable to one or other of these groups. I suggest that the provision in the Bill overdoes the procedure for the setting up of the structure.

The secretary should nominate a person who is capable and competent. Above all he must have integrity, which all election officers must have. At the moment we are talking about seven State bodies. In the next general election we will be talking about 40 returning officers. They will be acceptable even though in many cases their political involvement may have been well-known prior to their reaching that position, but their integrity has never been questioned. The position created by this Bill is an important one and the person appointed must not only be capable of carrying out the duties efficiently and honestly but he must be seen to be doing it.

This is one of the practical arrangements that must be gone into in legislation of this kind which deals with the election of workers in seven State bodies to the boards of directors. Here we are dealing with the duties of the returning officers and Deputy Fitzgerald understandably feels the procedure could be rendered simpler and clearer, that there is not the need for these subsections. In his amendment he suggests the inclusion of the following paragraph:

(b) in lieu of such secretary or officer, any person who in the opinion of such secretary or officer is capable of carrying out the functions of returning officer and is acceptable to a majority of the employees of the body.

I stress the virtues of the section as drafted because it is a practical necessity that if the secretary is not available for the onerous duties placed on the shoulders of a returning officer he should be in a position to nominate somebody else in his stead. It is possible the operation of the election procedure could be a formidable task from the geographical point of view, particularly in bodies such as Bord na Móna and CIE. It could be difficult for the company secretary to take part in the arrangements necessary for the election. In the Bill, no substitute can relieve the returning officer of this most important task and I would stress the provisions in sections 8, 11 and 12. We discovered this practical requirement when we discussed this with the companies and the trade unions involved and we agreed this was the solution. Every section has been the subject of deep discussion between unions and management and no section was put into the Bill as a result of talks merely between me and my officials and the parliamentary draftsman. That explains the practical necessity of this requirement of substitution for the secretary when he cannot carry out all the duties of his office.

The second matter I would like to bring to the attention of the House is that one of my worries about Deputy Fitzgerald's amendment is that it makes no specific reference to trade unions in the employment. The section refers to:

(a) the secretary of the body, or in case there is no such secretary, the officer of the body who performs the functions of secretary of the body, or

(b) in lieu of such secretary or officer, any other person who in the opinion of such secretary or officer is acceptable to ——

(i) a trade union or other body of persons which the returning officer is satisfied is both recognised by the designated body for the purposes of collective bargaining and representative of a majority of the employees of the body, or

(ii) two or more trade unions or other bodies of persons which the returning officer is satisfied between them collectively represent a majority of such employees and as regards each of which the returning officer is satisfied that the body is so recognised.

There is specific reference here to trade unions and this is very important. I have explained that this legislation is the product of consultation with the two sides of industry and one of the beneficial side-effects of this legislation would be that we could see more co-operation grow up between unions in a particular place of employment. Where in a company there are many unions organising the same category of workers we would see elections held on one day and people returned by the majority of the separate trade unions, but we would see worker-directors returned representing the entire body of the workers in such companies. I want to see that tendency strengthened throughout the State sector. I hope one of the beneficial effects of the passage of this legislation will be a lessening of the tensions that undoubtedly exist at times between unions in the one employment.

I return to the point that we refer to trade unions in the section. It is important that we should for the success of this legislation. Their support is essential for its implementation. Deputy Fitzgerald's amendment does not refer specifically to the practical position that we need the co-operation of trade unions and that they must be specified and we cannot permit a position whereby it would be up to the secretary of the company to decide, as the amendment would seem to suggest:

(b) in lieu of such secretary or officer, any person who in the opinion of such secretary or officer is capable of carrying out the functions of returning officer and is acceptable to a majority of the employees of the body.

It would be placing a great deal of discretion, if that be the correct word, certainly a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the unfortunate secretary. It would be up to him to decide what constituted a majority of employees in a job but all of these jobs are organised by trade unions and and it is to absolve him from this rather onerous task that we refer specifically to trade unions in the section. In these circumstances I ask Deputy Fitzgerald to look again at his amendment and at the section. I have explained as best I can the thinking behind the section. It is a practical section which in the interests of getting this legislation through we must include. I do not believe that it is an unnecessary addition to the legislation. Our discussions suggest that there is a practical necessity to have these provisions included and to have the specific reference that where there must be a substitute for the secretary as returning officer he should co-operate closely with the trade union or trade unions in the employment and only when they are satisfied about the competence of a substitute should a substitute be appointed.

I do not think that the position is exactly analagous to the situation referred to by Deputy Fitzgerald when he talked about the returning officer in Dáil election terms. In a Dáil election we are dealing with citizens who are taking part in the normal parliamentary election. Here we are dealing with a new form of democracy on which we are setting it down in legislation that one's membership of a trade union is part of the exercise of democracy in this situation. All we wish to ensure in this section is that we keep the returning officer free from any controversy in his post. The simplest way of ensuring that the returning officer cannot be accused by union A or union Y or X of being biased in his duties—this is a rather exceptional case—is to ensure that we spell out in the legislation what steps we should take in the event of his not being able to carry out his duties so that the effectiveness of his office is not imperilled by his having to make choices that could conceivably be on the wrong side of a particular organised group of workers.

The Minister has not yet convinced me that paragraph (b) should be included at all in section 7. I agree entirely with the consultation and discussion with trade unions. I believe that trade unions can, will and must play a terribly important part in seeing that worker democracy and worker participation operate effectively. I would like to share the optimism of the Minister but, regarding industrial relations, the narrow measure of the appointment of workers to the State boards, the boards of those seven companies, will not make a very worthwhile contribution. An extension of it would and in the future this is where we may see the real benefits, when we see it extended to lower, meaningful management levels. At the moment, at State board level I have reservations about its contribution to improved industrial relations.

After our recent experiences, especially during the Christmas period, we all agree how necessary it is that every effort be made by all responsible people towards improvement of industrial relations that do exist in order to avoid hardship to people. I appreciate and recognise the necessity for trade union discussions, but the important people here really are the workers in State body A. These are the people whom we must really consider and whom we must as far as possible see democratically elected to the positions that this Bill allows them be elected to. What we are discussing here we will be discussing in greater detail on other sections. I am not entirely happy with my amendment simply because there is an addendum to it that would be difficult to figure out. Section 7 (1) (a) says:

the secretary of the body, or in case there is no such secretary, the officer of the body who performs the functions of secretary of the body,

In other words, there is no consultation with anybody. That person is automatically appointed as returning officer. If so much confidence can be placed in him—and I agree with the idea of placing confidence in him— surely then a responsible person nominated by him may be accepted as returning officer without consultation.

I may have misunderstood the Minister when he mentioned the geographical spread of Bord na Móna and, of course, that means the geographical spread of CIE, ESB and others. I fully appreciate that this would be a considerable problem at election time. On Second Stage I said I was afraid of the imbalance that might be created by the workers in the areas of greater population who are elected to the State boards. That will have to be overcome. I got the impression from the Minister that he felt that the returning officer would have staff in the various locations or some person acting for him there. That might be fine in itself.

In this section we are talking about the returning officer, whoever he shall be. That returning officer should be in accordance with paragraph (a) or alternatively somebody nominated by him. I do not agree with the Minister that it is very much different from Dáil elections because we are talking about a democracy. We are all human and we will all say that a returning officer in a particular area may have been appointed by a particular Government. I do not believe there has ever been an objection by any political party to a returning officer. There may have been complaints about the manner in which an election was run but there have been very few complaints about returning officers considering the number who act each time an election or a referendum is held.

I do not want to push my amendment beyond the limits. I want to co-operate with the Minister but I believe the returning officer will be absolutely responsible for the election. We must remember that a worker is every person from the youngest and newest apprentice right up to top management, some of whom are not represented by trade unions. Those people have no say in who will be appointed as a returning officer. While I fully agree with the involvement of trade unions and the discussions which are vital to the success of this I do not believe that if the returning officer is somebody about whom we can argue it will help the situation at all. It is the secretary of the company, the officer corresponding to him or alternatively somebody of responsibility who is capable of doing the job appointed by him that we should have. If we, at election time, had a choice of returning officers I am sure it would probably take six months to get returning officers in some constituencies accepted.

I can see that there is a weakness in my amendment in regard to how one finds out whether or not the returning officer is acceptable to the majority of the advising bodies. If the Minister has confidence in the secretary or the officer corresponding to him he should have equal confidence in that person to nominate a responsible person to act as returning officer. I ask him to re-examine paragraph (b), which seems to be out of line with paragraph (a) between now and the next Stage. He has referred to the importance of having trade unions mentioned there. I am not so sure that that is important to anybody. I cannot see it helping a trade union in any way. I am amazed at the powers given to a returning officer in some sections of the Bill where his decision is final. I would prefer to see, rather than that those powers be given to him so completely, that this section be amended and that in the event of there being a genuine complaint there would be some machinery so that the complaint could be examined by an independent body.

I will have a look at it between now and Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 7 and 7a are cognate. I suggest that we take both amendments together.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 5, subsection (1), in both line 42 and line 47, to delete "returning" and substitute "secretary or".

I discovered, when we looked at this again, that I was calling somebody a returning officer who at that point in the Bill was not a returning officer. It is purely a technical matter.

We have no objection to that.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7a:

In page 5, subsection (1), line 49, to delete "returning" and substitute "secretary or".

The same applies here.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 7, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Subsection (2) states:

A returning officer may perform any of his functions, being functions which are for the time being prescribed, through or by any other employee of the relevant designated body or through or by any other person.

We should qualify what has been said in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) to allow that person to operate also. I agree that there is no way in which the returning officer should be entitled to be a candidate or to be in any way involved with the nomination of a candidate. I agree with this safeguard. If the three subsections are looked at together there is no reason why subsection (1) should not be tidied up in view of the fact that subsections (2) and (3) are there also. Subsection (2) gives certain powers of delegation of duties and subsection (3) specifies that the returning officer may not be involved at any stage as a candidate or in the nomination or selection of a candidate.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 8.
Question proposed: "That section 8 stand part of the Bill."

It states in this section: "not later than the day which is seventy days before the nomination day." What about timing for this year? I have become a bit confused with all the different days. We have 15th September mentioned in section 6 as the day on which the nomination day shall be selected. We then have not earlier than the fifty-sixth or later than the forty-second day. Is the Minister absolutely sure, taking all suggested considerations into account, the Seanad and possible other developments which have been mentioned for various months of the year, that we will have time to have this in operation for 15th September, 1977?

The Deputy may wonder whether or not we will. But I am still hopeful that we might under some pressure from employees in some of the companies about the passage of legislation. The House has to look at the matter whatever about people outside being satisfied with it. I take the Deputy's point. The dates leave us with some problems but I am still hopeful that we will be able to meet them.

Not less than three hours does seem short to me. I know the Minister is entitled to have it much longer but I think he should examine that——

We will do so.

—— especially in view of the geographical spread of some of the companies, with men working here, there and everywhere.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 9.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 6, subsection (1), line 21, to delete "made by the Minister" and substitute "made by the designated bodies for their particular election, after consultation with the nominating groups and having taken into consideration the geographical spread of the body, and approved by the Minister".

I am asking here for a change of subsection (1) of this section. The subsection, as it stands, reads:

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, elections shall be held in accordance with regulations made by the Minister and regulations under this section may apply ...

I am suggesting that instead of saying "regulations made by the Minister" we say "made by the designated bodies for their particular election" because I think there will be certain circumstances that will suit one body and perhaps not another. My amendment continues: "after consultation with the nominating groups"—this is where we should be involving the nominating groups—"and having taken into consideration the geographical spread of the body, and approved by the Minister". Naturally nobody knows the workings of these State bodies as intimately as the people concerned. For example, if regulations are being made regarding CIE it is more than likely that those regulations would in no way suit those being made in a manufacturing industry such as NET, just to take two entirely different industries, one a service and the other a manufacturing one, one with a huge geographical spread, with tremendous movement of transport, with drivers overseas and at both ends of the country. Therefore, the regulations there would be entirely different.

I am making life easier for the Minister and his Department in suggesting that the regulations be made by the designated bodies for their particular election. Of course I entirely agree with consultation with the nominating groups and also taking into consideration the geographical spread of the bodies. Then those regulations must be approved by the Minister. It may cause additional problems to have the Minister or his Department making regulations for seven different bodies whereas if each designated body designed their own scheme for election, in consultation with the nominating bodies and, having reached agreement, they submitted them to the Minister for approval it would streamline the procedure.

I take the Deputy's point. What he is suggesting is what I hope I would be doing in practice. As the Deputy sees it his amendment sets out procedures in terms of the actual conduct of the election and thereby avoids the difficulty of very complicated consultations between the Minister of the day and the companies concerned. My difficulty here is that it is not so much that I wish to interpose the Minister for Labour at each point but it is important, in terms of the law, that the regulations come back to the Minister. That is why it is spelled out here in this fashion. The heart of the matter is this, that these regulations will be drawn up by both sides in the companies concerned. In practice, I will not be drawing up the regulations. I might tell the Deputy and the House that in regard to this section, which we discussed with the unions and management, it was agreed that though technically the form of the regulations are made by the Minister, it would be suggested to me by both sides what the form of the regulations should be in each particular undertaking. Then full consultations will take place on the draft regulations with management and the trade unions of the seven State companies. In addition, while I envisage that technically I may be the person making the regulations about the conduct of election, which has general application in the seven companies, in practice it may be necessary to make special regulations which, whilst in agreement with the main provisions of the Bill, would take into account specific conditions or circumstances in any particular designated body.

Deputy Fitzgerald will see that his amendment will be embodied in practice. The reason it is not spelled out here in the form he suggests is that we are forced to insert the Minister involved in this fashion—that he must make regulations—but the practice will be that both management and unions will be the authors of regulations as they are the people who will have to carry them out.

Then why not say that the regulations must be approved by the Minister?

I am informed that it is merely part of the necessity of the legal position of this Bill that one must say that they be made by the Minister. There is nothing I can do about that.

I am satisfied at least that that is how the procedure will go ahead but it is important as well that it be seen to be complete democracy. It is one time when it appears that regulations made by the Minister could convey an impression of interference by him.

I agree but in fact the opposite is the case.

While I accept that, could the Minister not find some way of getting round it before Report Stage?

I will have a look at that. My problem is the method of setting this out. If there is any way in which I can indicate that this is the practice I shall do so.

I should like to see that done if at all possible.

Is amendment No. 8 withdrawn?

Yes, with the usual reservations.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 6, subsection (3), line 32, to delete "vote" and substitute "ballot"?

Might I ask the Minister why the change from "vote" to "ballot"?

I am told it is purely a drafting matter. I do not know the reasons for it. It is probably in the direction of consistency, that we use the same expression throughout. There is no more significance than that.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 10 in the name of Deputy G. Fitzgerald. I note that amendments Nos. 15 and 16 are consequential. Therefore I suggest they be debated together and separate decisions taken if required.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 6, between lines 43 and 44, to insert the following paragraph:

"(e) the determination of the number of employees in each designated body who may independently nominate a candidate, and be considered a qualified body for the purpose of this Act."

This is where the Minister and I differ on this legislation. I am asking that this paragraph be added to section 9. I have called it paragraph (e). Here I see a basic difference in thinking between the Minister and myself in an effort to make industrial democracy work in these seven State bodies. Those seven have been selected. I would not agree entirely with the selection of those seven. There are reasons why I would have added others. However, I shall not go back over that ground. I do not believe that the way this will operate will be beneficial or will constitute absolute democracy where these workers are concerned. At present, for example, in each of those bodies there are quite a number of unions involved. As far as I am aware we do not yet know how many directors or members will be elected to each of the boards. Some of those bodies have quite a number of trade unions involved, naturally some carrying a far greater number of members than others. For example, if we take the ITGWU or the WUI, one can argue two ways as to whether or not they are receiving fair representation on one of those bodies.

Some of these bodies have more than 12,000 employees and because of that the ITGWU or the WUI may have more than 80 per cent of those as members. Yet, as I see it, they are entitled to nominate only one member each, where as a much smaller unit has the same right. There are also workers who are not union members and as far as this legislation is concerned they do not appear to be able to seek nomination. I submit they are not given the opportunity of participating in a proper democratisation of the workplace. Even in our Dáil elections the independent has a chance of standing if he decides that he has no allegiance to or sympathy with any of the major political parties but this facility is not available to the workers. I think the Minister must reconsider this even at this stage.

A number of trade unions are involved. I mentioned the two stronger unions, probably the unions having most members, and they would be entitled to say that this is unfair to them because, as far as I can see, despite the number of members they might have, they are entitled to nominate only one person. The Minister may correct me but I think I am right. Yet a union with only 10 per cent of that membership would appear to have the same right to nominate one person. I accept that probably the member of the larger union would have a much better chance of being elected but that is a matter for the campaign afterwards and how successful a nominated candidate may be in projecting his image and promoting his interests within the company. This is why I have moved this amendment:

(e) the determination of the number of employees in each designated body who may independently nominate a candidate, and be considered a qualified body for the purpose of this Act.

I do not mean that every ten people should have that right particularly in bodies where over 10,000 people are employed but, first, people who are not union members are entitled to be considered in this legislation and also— referring to the bigger unions—if a group of a number decided on by the Minister, 50, 60, 100 or 200, from within a union or even across the unions, decide that they wish to nominate somebody, I think they should be entitled to do so.

If we take bodies like CIE or the ESB with a wide geographical spread, am I right in assuming that, for example, the ITGWU which would probably represent many workers in these bodies, would have the right to nominate only one member to the State board?

They may nominate——

As many as they like.

But may a group of their members, say, in Sligo decide that they wish to nominate a Sligo man?

If I may intervene, the nominating bodies, those who can put forward candidates for election to the board must be bodies recognised by the companies concerned for negotiating purposes and can be either trade unions or staff associations, anybody recognised by the management as representing workers, with whom they can negotiate on their conditions. These are the people who may nominate. Those who may take part in elections are any persons over the age of 18 who have been in the board's employment for a year. There is no ceiling on the number of candidates who may be nominated by these bodies for these positions. I do not propose that our regulations should deal with the matter which would be a question for the nominating bodies themselves. It would be a matter for the transport union itself, for instance, to decide whether it wanted to support the Sligo candidate as against some other candidate. We cannot tell the nominating bodies which person or region they should support.

The weakness I see in what the Deputy is proposing is that by suggesting that there could be groups or bodies outside those I have mentioned —the unions, the people recognised for negotiating purposes by the management—which would have the right to nominate candidates in a situation where our State sector suffers somewhat from too many unions, we would be fuelling extra division in these employments. I know that is not the Deputy's intention but I believe that one of the beneficial side effects of this legislation would be to get employees of the same firm to thinking together more than they have been doing considering the problems of their firm as a totality and working together as a team. A year or two ago we passed legislation to make it easier for unions to amalgamate in the organisational sense and this is why I do not think I could honestly indicate to the Deputy that I would be willing to look at this aspect of the legislation again. The Deputy rightly perceives that there may be a difference of opinion between us and it is a rather serious one from my viewpoint. In any legislation for which I am responsible I could not encourage further splits and divisions of employees. We have too much of that already and what we need is less. I do not charge the Deputy with wishing to do that; he is concerned with how smaller units of workers can be heard in the elections. All of the seven companies involved are organised almost 90 per cent by trade unions. There are some house associations and such associations will not be prevented from putting forward candidates but I do not think it would be in anybody's interest in the normal way to encourage in our legislation further fragmentation.

I should be inclined to argue another way on the point the Minister makes in regard to creating further division. I look at it like this: if a group of workers, say, in Sligo, composed of members of a number of unions and, perhaps, some non-union workers, decide to nominate a Sligoman, it might have the opposite effect of helping to weld some unions together and assist the legislation enacted in 1974-75. I think the geographical spread of these companies will create a problem but not an insurmountable one. My main concern here is that we are confining too much workers' democracy or the opportunity of workers from seeking what we now hope will be their democratic right. First, there is the person who is not a member of a union or a staff association. Under the Constitution he is entitled to his right not to be a member. In my view this legislation will deprive him of the opportunity, if he so wishes, of being nominated for election to State boards.

On the other hand, it could be argued that with the strength of the city against the provinces orvice versa—the provinces against the cities in the case of Bord na Móna would be very strong, although it may be otherwise in other companies—there might not be a fair spread on the present nominating body structure. Even at this late stage I would appeal to the Minister to reserve to himself rights by which a worthwhile group of workers in any depot, whether it be in the city or elsewhere, will have the opportunity, even across union lines, of nominating a particular person to represent them on that State board.

I agree with union involvement. I agree that the unions must throw their full weight behind this if it is to be successful but primarily it must be a workers' democracy. Each worker in the ESB, CIE or any other State body must have equal rights in his company, factory or depot, whether he be on the floor of the garage or one of the higher office workers.

I do not want to deny the nominating bodies suggested by the Minister the opportunity to nominate people. I want an opportunity for the people who may wish under any circumstances —and I am giving the Minister latitude to nominate the number and conditions—to nominate any person who is not a member of a union or staff association. Naturally the chances of that person being elected are poor but the right should be there for his name to be put forward.

If an independent or a community association wish to put forward a candidate in Dáil or local elections that right is available to them. One could look on the independent as not being attached to any union. In my opinion, legislation should not deny him the opportunity of putting his name forward for nomination. Again I appeal to the Minister to accept this amendment.

Unfortunately, I cannot.

I feel very strongly about this and I am sorry if we have to divide on it because these people should be considered.

My problem is that it runs counter to all my consultations. I suspect it would not be acceptable to both sides, but I know one side would be against it.

I see the Minister's reason but I am not anxious to deny anybody the right to be nominated. I appreciate that his chances of being elected to a State board are very small but he should have the right to be nominated. Perhaps there is some way that right could be given without offending any of the people with whom the Minister has consulted.

The Deputy knows his concern is misplaced since in all seven companies there is no problem of the character which worries him. The companies are totally organised by unions or associations. Admittedly, if this is extended at some time in the future, a problem of that character may arise, but not in the seven companies now before us.

I agree, but am I right when I say that 10 per cent are not union members?

That is not so. I think about 95 per cent are union members.

I would be inclined to question that figure, but even if that is not so, that strengthens my argument because the opportunity for nomination is there, if they wish to avail of it. I want to emphasise that I see little hope that these people will ever be elected, but it is wrong for us to legislate that they will not be given the opportunity of being nominated. I do not want to harm any consultations the Minister has had but perhaps he could go back and discuss this with them again. As I said, I would still like to give that 5 per cent an opportunity of being nominated.

I will certainly discuss this with them further but I do not see much possibility of them accepting the Deputy's proposal.

It is fundamental for the future.

Question put: "That the amendment be made".

Is the Deputy calling a division?

In the interests of helping this legislation I will not call for a division but I reserve the right to introduce another amendment on Report Stage.

Amendment put and declared lost.

We will take amendments Nos. 11, 11a, a18a and a19a together.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 7, subsection (4) (1), to insert ", whether by post or otherwise," after "ballot papers" in line 22.

Amendment No. 11a is a movement in the direction suggested by Deputy Fitzgerald on the last day we discussed the postal ballot. During Committee Stage in November the question of the polling period was raised during which postal votes could be cast by persons unable to do so in person. These amendments arise from this. As Deputy Fitzgerald spoke in much the same direction, I think he will support these amendments.

I do not see any objection to them. I made that point on Second Stage. As I said earlier, I would prefer to see less of the procedure to be followed in elections included in the Bill itself. I have no objection to these amendments. They are quite in order. A postal vote is extremely important because in some of the State bodies workers must go on long distance travel, sometimes outside the country. I am prepared to facilitate the Minister in this.

Amendment agreed to.

I take it amendment No. 12 is not being moved?

Amendment No. 11a replaced No. 12, so No. 12 is no longer important.

Amendment No. 12 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 11a, 18a and 19a have been discussed together.

Question proposed: "That section 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill".

Section 9 relates to the conduct of elections. I have no objection to the section, except that I would like to reserve an opportunity of introducing amendments on Report Stage in relation to amendment No. 10 and I would ask the Minister to look at subsection (1) of section 9. It must appear that the designated bodies within their own structures are making the regulations. We are introducing a new package of legislation and the terminology is a little difficult. I would encourage the Minister and his Department when introducing legislation for workers to ensure that the terminology and language used is simple so that the vast majority of people can interpret the exact meaning of the Bill. If worker democracy is to work properly the elections will probably be interesting and they will create a certain excitement in the work place with the knowledge that the workers have the opportunity of representation on the boards of their companies.

This legislation should go further, but it is a start and I support it. I sincerely believe that every worker in every one of these bodies must not only have the opportunity but must appear to have the opportunity of being nominated. By excluding perhaps only 1 per cent from this legislation we could deny a person a right that he or she already has under the Constitution. The chances of their being elected would probably be small, but that is not the question. I would ask the Minister to try by consultation between now and Report Stage to get acceptance.

I would have been a bit more choosey in relation to some of the bodies which were selected as being the first seven bodies, because the geographical spread of some of these will cause difficulties. It would be hard for people in some parts of the country to understand that somebody from the capital is representing them on a State board. There is also a spread of skills and functions. In CIE rail freight, road freight and bus services are geographically spread throughout the country. There are separate divisions also in the ESB, maintenance distribution and so on, spread all over the country. No doubt the Minister will have more amendments by the time we reach Report Stage, but officials should keep looking for flaws or faults which may be found when this legislation begins to operate because the machinery provided for elections will never be 100 per cent perfect. I have no objection to section 9 provided I can reserve the right to introduce some amendments on Report Stage if necessary. The reason I did not force the issue to a vote today was to help speed up the passage of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 10.
Question proposed: "That section 10 stand part of the Bill."

This is giving the person the right to vote. An opportunity is being given to persons over 18 years on the day concerned and who have had one year's continuous employment in the company. I am concerned about subsection (3):

Where an election is held, a person shall not be entitled to make an application pursuant to subsection (2) of this section to the returning officer at any time on the day which as regards the election is the nomination day,

I assume that means that once the nomination day comes if that man's name is not already on the list of electors it cannot be put on. If I am right in that assumption, I suggest to the Minister that this section could do with a tidying up. Simpler language should be used to explain this to the ordinary worker who will be voting.

I am not happy with that subsection. It would be better to rewrite it completely, putting it in clear and simple terms. I am saying this in a totally non-political way; I am merely trying to be helpful. I intend no disrespect to the people who draft legislation. Perhaps they see no difficulty in it for the ordinary person but the terminology used can be difficult to comprehend. There are times when I must read a section a number of times before realising fully what it entails. In the subsection I am talking of here, one or two simple sentences would suffice to make clear that there is a day beyond which a person cannot claim a vote.

We shall have a look at that. The Deputy is aware of the difficulties we are endeavouring to meet, but there must be a time beyond which a person cannot claim the right to vote.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 11.

Amendment No. 14 is consequential on No. 13 and No. 17 is cognate. Therefore, with the agreement of the House, the three amendments may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 9, subsection (4), line 25, to delete from "and" where it first occurs to "appealable".

The section deals with the question of the nomination and support of candidates and brings us back to the question of certain decisions being taken by a returning officer. This is novel legislation. We are putting forward a formula by which an alternative person can be suggested. Yet we are extending to that person the right not to have to consult with anybody else in certain circumstances. Regarding nominations I would suggest that such person would have the right to adjudge a case as being either valid or invalid; but there is always the danger, particularly within a company, of there being a returning officer who may not be the ideal person to hold this office. For instance, he may have a grievance of long standing with some nominated member and, consequently, he may endeavour to find a loophole to invalidate that other person's application. In such circumstances there would be no opportunity for redress. Would it not be advisable to provide for redress in such cases? Presumably within the Minister's Department there will be an officer acting as a co-ordinator in regard to elections in the various bodies. I took the Minister earlier to indicate that all the elections would be held simultaneously. Perhaps the Minister would think again about the question of redress. We all know that elections produce grievances, but it is the practice to accept the decision of a returning officer. In view especially of this legislation being novel and complex, it might be advisable to provide for redress in cases of grievance.

We have covered this point already but I would point out that, in accordance with section 9, I shall be making regulations whereby the candidates for election and a representative from their nominating bodies would be entitled to be present when the returning officer is ruling on the validity of each nomination. In other words, I am meeting the possible difficulty envisaged by the Deputy in matters of this kind. It is regrettable that from time to time disputes of this nature arise but the arrangement that I would provide for in the regulations, and which incidentally has been agreed already with both sides as being a practical way of meeting the type of difficulty envisaged in the amendment, will ensure that there can be no argument as to the impartiality of the returning officer. There will be anad hoc appeal at the time in question.

Might it be possible to give some indication of that on Report Stage?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 17 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 11 stand part of the Bill."

Subsection (5) (a) reads:

A qualified body, other than a qualified body by whom a candidate at an election is jointly or otherwise nominated, may, with the agreement of the qualified body or qualified bodies by whom the candidate is nominated, within the prescribed period and in the prescribed manner notify the returning officer that the body supports the candidate at the election.

I have a comment in the margin here and that comment is "Rubbish". I see no reason for the introduction of this subsection. A qualified body may decide not to nominate and may support the candidature of another nominee. That can be done. Why write it into legislation? I wondered if it might be due to the fact that the Labour Party and the Fine Gael Party have coalesced and thought it desirable that this kind of subsection should be written in here.

The Deputy was having a nightmare.

A qualified body would be quite within its rights in supporting the candidature of another person. There is nothing to prevent that and that would be indicated on the ballot paper. In effect, I suppose it will mean a trade union amalgamation with another and I see no objection to that. I cannot understand the need for this subsection at all.

It is a small point but the matter came up for discussion between my officials and the unions. The nominating body alone will put forward a candidate or candidates and, if we did not have this clause, a supporting body which did not have a candidate or candidates would not be entitled to have any reference to this candidate or these candidates unless they voted in this particular fashion. A side effect would be to lessen identity between different organisations and workers. It is not a very big point. It has been written in on advice to show that a candidate is endorsed by a small qualified body which is not putting forward a candidate of its own. It is a healthy tendency to have more of this cross-union support. No great principle is involved. I do not think this is really opposition on the part of Deputy Fitzgerald. The subsection fulfils a useful function.

It is not opposition. I see the necessity for (b) but, quite honestly, (5) (a) seems to be absolutely superfluous.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 12.

Amendment No. 18 has already been disposed of with Amendment No. 1. Likewise, amendments Nos. a18a and 18a have been dealt with with amendment No. 11a as has amendment No. 18b.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 10, subsection (1), to insert "either" after "Act" in line 17 and to add to the subsection the following:

", or during a period of more than one but not more than five days the first of which is so fixed and is not earlier than the said seventh day, which period is in this Act referred to as the `polling period'.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. a18a:

In page 10, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following new subsection:

"(3) When an election is adjourned for the purpose of taking a poll, the following provisions shall apply, namely:

(a) in case a polling day is fixed pursuant to this section as regards the election, the poll shall be taken on that day and postal voting shall not be used, and

(b) in case a polling period is so fixed, the poll shall be taken during that period but votes, other than postal votes, may only be cast during the period on a particular day appointed for the purposes of this paragraph by the returning officer at the time he fixes the polling period."

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18a:

In page 10, subsection (3), lines 30 to 32, to substitute the following for paragraphs (a) and (b):

"(a) the polling day or the polling period, as may be appropriate,

(b) the place or places at which, the day or days on which and the hours during which votes, other than postal votes, may be cast,

(c) in case a polling period is fixed in relation to the election, the place at which and the period during which and before the expiration of which postal ballot papers are to be received by or on behalf of the returning officer, and".

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 12, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

This is really a question of the procedure to be adopted and I have no objection to it other than to reserve the right to submit amendments and comment on the fixing of periods. One point—I know the Minister will be taking it into consideration—is the place at which the ballot will be taken and so on. That will be covered of course. It is important that every facility should be provided to make it as easy as possible to get a full turn out of workers. Would it not be great to see a 100 per cent poll? Consideration will have to be given to the sick or those suffering from occupational injuries. I am sure a postal vote could be arranged. That would give us some practice in seeing how such a vote worked.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 13.

Amendments Nos. 21a and 23b are consequential on amendment No. 18b.

I move amendment No. 18b:

In page 10, lines 49 to 54, and in page 11, lines 1 to 16, to substitute the following subsection for subsection (1):

"(1) If at an election the returning officer receives during the period of seven days beginning on the stated day from—

(a) a trade union or other body of persons which the returning officer is satisfied,

(i) in case the election relates to Aer Lingus, is both recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining either by that company or by Aerlínte and represents not less than fifteen per cent of the employees of those companies, being employees entitled to vote at the election, when the numbers of employees employed by them and being so entitled are each added together,

(ii) in case the election relates to any other designated body, is both recognised for such purposes by that designated body and represents not less than fifteen per cent of the employees of that body who are entitled to vote at the election, or

(b) each of two or more trade unions or other bodies of persons which the returning officer is satisfied between them collectively represent not less than fifteen per cent of such employees and as regards each of which the returning officer is satisfied that the body is so recognised,

an application in writing requesting him not to proceed with the election, for the purposes of ascertaining whether or not a majority of those entitled to vote at the election is in favour of proceeding further with the election he shall arrange forthwith for the taking of a poll under this section (which poll is in this Act referred to as a `preliminary poll') and appoint either a day, or a period of more than one but not more than five days, which shall be the earliest day or period of days, as the case may be, for the taking of the poll."

This is mainly concerned with the necessity of bringing Aerlínte within the scope of the Bill. That is why this cumbersome amendment is necessary. On Second Stage I received strong representations from interests concerned about the position of employees of Aerlínte in the context of the designation of Aer Lingus. There was no reference to Aerlínte. As Deputies are aware, Aer Lingus is named as a designated body in section 5 but Aerlínte is not. The two companies for very good reasons operate as one. There is what they call a board interlock between Aer Lingus and Aerlínte and the members of the boards in each case are the same. They have the same chairman. They meet as one body and operate as one company. The appointment of employee directors to the Aer Lingus board alone, as provided for under this Bill, could upset this arrangement since employees elected to the Aer Lingus board would not be entitled to sit on the Aerlínte board and the converse position would obtain in relation to Aerlínte. There are about 5,000 people employed in Aer Lingus while about 200 are employed by Aerlínte. The basis of the representations made to me were that some formula should be devised so that we could incorporate in the Bill a provision whereby Aerlínte employees could vote in elections in Aer Lingus in view of the exceptional interlocking arrangements between the two companies. That is why these amendments are necessary. We want to make it possible for the 200 employees of Aerlínte to take part in elections.

It would be a combined election?

Yes, otherwise we would have excluded the 200 employees in Aerlínte, who for all practical purposes belong to Aer Lingus.

Amendment agreed to.

The Chair understands that the Minister does not intend to move amendment No. 19.

We have covered it already. It is superseded by amendment No. 18b

Amendment No. 19 not moved.

Amendment No. 19a has already been discussed with amendment No. 11a.

I move amendment No. a19a:

In page 11, subsection (3), lines 23 to 25, to substitute the following for paragraph (a):

"(a) section 9 (other than subsection (3) and section 12 (3)* of this Act shall apply to the poll in the manner in which they apply to the taking of a poll at an election,"

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 19a and 20 may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 19a:

In page 11, subsection (5), line 53, to add ", and as soon as may be he shall inform the Minister and the appropriate Minister in writing that he is not proceeding further with the election" to the subsection.

I accept the principle of the Deputy's amendment No. 20 and that is why I have submitted amendment No. 19a.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 20 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 13, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I am glad the Minister has accepted the principle of my amendment. He has tidied up the section. Subsection (2) provides that a decision of a returning officer shall be final and not appealable but I am hopeful, as a result of what the Minister said this morning, that all procedures will not be completely tied and can be examined or discussed by somebody.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 14.
Question proposed: "That section 14 stand part of the Bill."

I have no objection to the section because it deals with procedure only.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 15.

Amendment No. 21 has already been discussed with amendment No. 2.

Amendment No. 21 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 15 stand part of the Bill."

This section states that where a Minister of State is informed by a returning officer at an election of the names of candidates elected or declared to have been elected at the election "he shall, as soon as may be, make an appointment ..." The phrase, "as soon as may be", may have been used for many years but I believe the word "immediately" should be inserted. On election to Dáil Éireann a Member is immediately declared elected. The terminology used in the section is old and outdated and should be eliminated. We are talking about new legislation, new procedures, new appointments and a new election.

If there is no objection in principle I will do that. It may be that the terminology used is laid down. I will have a look at the matter.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 16.
Question proposed: "That section 16 stand part of the Bill."

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to paragraph (e) which states:

in either case a vacancy amongst the members or directors of the relevant designated body who may be appointed pursuant to the said section 15 shall be deemed to have occurred on the day next following the day mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b), as may be appropriate, of this section.

I am not happy about this section. What is the position if there are vacancies?

I do not think there is any great difference between us on this. The section deals with the practical situation where a member dies.

Our differences may come in a later section.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 17.
Question proposed: "That section 17 stand part of the Bill."

My query on this section relates to subsection (3). I thought the Minister would have encouraged rotation. We are working a little in the dark in relation to this Bill and with the exception of one of these State bodies which has nine members, they all have seven members. I am not sure what the Minister's intentions are regarding the ultimate composition of these bodies or boards with the result that I do not know how many members will be elected by the workers. It is desirable that we have a rotation system. In one of our leading private Irish companies where worker participation has worked for many years the time came when a breakdown appeared inevitable between the worker representatives and the younger members of the staff. It was then decided to introduce rotation. It would break the system in the course of time if there was not a way by which a new person could be elected to the board.

I am not quite sure how the rotation could be started for the first time without being a little unfair to somebody. However it is important that there should be this rotation, not entirely, there must be continuity as well. Assuming there are three members elected and one of them cannot seek re-election, maybe it could be on the basis that the man who gets the least number of votes should retire. That would then give the opportunity of introducing one new face. From there on one of the other representatives could be phased out and so on; in; other words one would retire each three-year period. I see merit in that and certainly it would be attractive to younger members of the staff because it would give them an opportunity of being representatives at some stage. The Minister may have considered this already and had consultations about it. I do not think it would be desirable to have a system of representation that would go on endlessly because this would defeat the purpose of worker participation at board level.

I would be loath to say that representation must take place as a matter of law. I agree it would be desirable, and I can tell the Deputy that the nominating bodies have already discussed how this can best be arranged. I would prefer, however, not to include it in the legislation at this point. The Deputy may be assured that the question of rotation is occupying the minds of the nominating bodies.

There is a real fear that if, say, three people moved in there and looked on it as being permanent, it could kill the system. I appreciate the difficulty of including it in legislation. Perhaps the Minister and myself could consider it between now and Report Stage, and if I could reserve the right——

I shall have consultations between now and Report Stage.

We can then see if there is a way to give it a blessing by way of legislation.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 18.
Question proposed: "That section 18 stand part of the Bill."

I think there can be no great objection to section 18. A man is worthy of his hire.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 19.
Question proposed: "That section 19 stand part of the Bill."

This concerns the resignation and removal from office of members or directors appointed under the Bill. Subsection (2) reads:

Where a Minister of State has power to remove an ordinary member or an ordinary director of a designated body from office, he shall have like power to remove a member or director of the body appointed by him under this Act from office, and in case such power to remove is exercisable only with the consent or approval of another Minister of State, the power conferred on the Minister of State by this section shall be exercisable subject to such consent or approval.

This subsection likens the position of the member or director of the State company appointed by the Minister to that of the member or director elected to the board by his workmates and then appointed by the Minister as a result of that election. I would seriously question whether it is desirable or advisable for the Minister to include both of these here under the same conditions. I see the need for safeguard in the case where there is a cogent reason why a person should be removed from his position as member or director. The director other than the worker director is appointed by the Minister, probably with the consent of the Government, and one can rest assured that nowadays the appointee is a supporter of one or other of the two parties in Government. Times have changed from the days when Fianna Fáil appointed the best and most suitable people to such positions. Nowadays the main consideration is political attachment. I believe there should be some difference. The nominating body or the returning officer should be consulted if for no other reason than to let it be seen by the workers that the Minister was justified in removing a board member as not being suitable. I think there is a distinction to be made between the person whom the Minister of the day selects and the person who is elected by the workers and appointed by the Minister as a result of that election.

Mr. O'Leary

I see the Deputy's point but presumably the person concerned would be required by law to tell the Minister he was resigning. If we were to suggest that he would also inform the representatives of the electorate, the question would arise as to whom he would inform. Would it be all the nominating bodies? However, I shall look at it between now and Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 21a:

In page 14, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following new section before section 20:

"20.—(1) Where at a meeting of Aerlínte or a designated body any of the following matters arises, namely:

(a) an arrangement to which the company or body is a party or a proposed such arrangement, or

(b) a contract or other agreement with the company or body or a proposed such contract or other agreement,

then any member or director of the company or body present at the meeting who, otherwise than in his capacity as such a member or director or as the chief executive officer of the company or body (whether called the General Manager, the Manager or by any other name), is in any way, whether directly or indirectly, interested in the matter shall at the meeting disclose to the company or body the fact of such interest and the nature thereof and shall not vote on a decision relating to the matter, and where an interest is disclosed pursuant to this section, the disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting concerned and for so long as the matter to which the disclosure relates is being dealt with by the meeting the member or director by whom the disclosure is made shall not be counted in the quorum present at the meeting.

(2) Where at a meeting of Aerlínte or a designated body a question arises as to whether or not a course of conduct, if pursued by a member or director thereof would be a failure by him to comply with the requirements of subsection (1) of this section, the question may be determined by the chairman of the meeting whose decision shall be final and in case such a question is so determined, particulars of the determination shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

(3) Section 194 of the Act of 1963 shall not apply to a director of Aerlínte or a designated body."

Could I ask if the reference in section 20 to the disclosure by members or directors of designated bodies of certain interests applies only to Aerlínte?

No, to all plus Aerlínte.

I am sorry. I had a question on that section. It says here:

(1) Where at a meeting of ... a designated body any of the following matters arises, namely:

(a) an arrangement to which the ... body is a party or a proposed such arrangement, or

In other words the member must disclose. We are talking here of a different type of member again. Could I ask the Minister to look at that? This is very understandable in the case of a person appointed from industry or from any other walk of life, but not so understandable in the case of a worker director. Is this section really necessary at all and under what circumstances would the Minister see a necessity for it arising?

I will look at it between now and Report Stage. Presumably we cannot have a lengthy debate on the matter now. It is a general standard requirement I am obeying here. My general line has been to have the same rules applying to workerdirectors as to other directors, with no difference between them in their authorities and powers.

Amendment agreed to.

Acceptance of this amendment involves the deletion of section 20 of the Bill.

Section 21 agreed to.
SECTION 22.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 15, subsection (2), lines 10 and 11, to delete "before making the appointment, have regard to the poll" and substitute "appoint the first candidate in the poll who was not deemed to be elected".

Subsection (2) reads:

In appointing a person to fill a casual vacancy, the appropriate Minister shall, in case there was a poll at the last preceding election relating to the designated body concerned, before making the appointment, have regard to that poll.

The words "have regard to that poll" are not strong enough and could allow the Minister to have an outlet I do not think he should have. He may have regard to the poll but, under the section, he is not obliged or committed to appoint any person having had regard to the poll. As I said earlier, I would be reluctant to give that type of power to a Minister. Any Minister may not have the regard to the poll which I think he should have. I would expect that the person next qualified with votes would be appointed to fill a casual vacancy. I suggest in my amendment that the first candidate in the poll who was not deemed to be elected should be appointed. This would continue the democratic progress of worker representative appointments and would eliminate any possibility of any interference with the voting system in the election.

The Minister may well say the first person who was not deemed to be elected in that poll may not be available for some reason. The obvious solution to that would be to go further down the line to the next person who was available. This would strengthen the section and guarantee the system of worker representation continuing in that capacity for three years.

Deputy Fitzgerald is concerned as to whether the Minister would be guided totally by the poll results in filling a casual vacancy. I am sure he would be in almost all cases, but practical difficulties can arise. The casual vacancy may occur near the end of a period of office and the person next in line in the poll may not be willing to take on the job. The person who vacated the office for one reason or another may be a member of a particular union and they might not be agreeable to a member of another union filling the post. It is not ruled out that the Minister would have regard to the poll in the section. I undertake to look at this between now and Report Stage and see if I can satisfy the Deputy further that the poll would have a very close bearing on what the Minister would do.

I am in agreement with the Deputy's sentiments but I am informed that practical difficulties could arise if it was written into the section that the Minister had to have regard to the poll results. The vacancy could occur near the end of a period of office or the person who vacated the office could be a member of a union who were not agreeable to a member of union X filling the post. These are possibilities which could arise. As drafted, the section gives us a possibility of flexibility with the agreement of all concerned. I must stress that, since it was a direct election, no vacancy of this sort could be filled without the agreement of the nominating bodies and all concerned.

I am reasonably satisfied now the Minister has said he will look at the matter between now and Report Stage. I am still not happy that the words "have regard to that poll" are strong enough. The only practical difficulty I can see in my amendment is that there might not be a big number of candidates and a good deal of time might elapse between the resignation or death of a member and the time when the election took place and there might be one or two people who were not then available or were not prepared to accept the appointment. I take the Minister's point that he will examine the subsection with a view to improving it between now and Report Stage. In the meantime I reserve my right to submit another amendment if I think that is necessary.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That section 22 stand part of the Bill."

Subsection (1) provides that the vacancy may be filled by the appropriate Minister. If I remember the definition section correctly, the appropriate Minister is not the Minister for Labour. It is the Minister concerned with the company or body. That is why I encourage the Minister to keep my amendment in mind and to be specific as to how we will fill the vacancy. Unless there was absolute agreement with the nominating bodies friction could be caused. None of us wants to see any friction created in introducing workers' democracy.

This is not as big a step as I should like to see the Minister taking but it is a step in the right direction, I hope, towards improved industrial relations in our State bodies. It is imperative that we should know the procedure and that there should be no allegations that any Minister of any Government appointed a particular worker over and above another worker. That is why it would be desirable to have the poll followed as closely as possible. There are different political persuasions among the workers in the different State bodies. If it was believed by one section that preference was expressed towards one group or one person rather than another, that would be harmful to the idea of workers democracy. I urge the Minister very strongly to be more specific. The practical problems can easily be eliminated. Only as a last resort should the Minister have to go back to consult with anybody.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 23.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 15, subsection (1), line 20, to delete "the" and substitute "that".

This is a drafting amendment.

I will hardly oppose that.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 23, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I expect the Minister to tell me something about this section.

This is the section that gives the authority to prescribe by order in the case of each designated body the number of members or directors to be appointed under the Act. As you know, we are attempting to introduce uniformity in bodies of different sizes and this gives us the flexibility to ensure that the one-third will apply uniformly. That is the intent of section 23.

I had expected more information from the Minister.

In section 4 we provide that an affirmative order of the House will have to approve in each case.

I expected more information from the Minister. We should have some idea of the Minister's intentions. He has had consultations, and rightly so, but this House and an Opposition that has been so helpful and so sincerely committed to the proper working of industrial democracy should be informed of the Minister's intentions. I see difficulties for the Minister. For example, with the exception of Comhlacht Siúicre Éireann, all the other bodies have seven members on their boards. If we hold it at seven for those six companies and divide seven by three we find that the number according to the Bill would be three directors out of seven. On the other hand, the Minister may decide to increase the number of directors. With a board of seven directors, the seventh being the chairman, is there a danger that six might be divided by three? Is the chairman classed as a director or is he regarded as a chairman? If that were the case, six of the companies would only have two. The Minister may also be considering the possibility of increasing them by two each and preserving the people appointed by his Government in their positions. Are some of the existing seven to be removed, or the existing nine as in the case of the Comhlacht Siúicre Éireann? These questions should be answered and I should like the Minister to comment on his intentions.

The position is that one-third of the board will be worker directors. The seven companies have varying numbers. If one-third must be worker directors we would increase the number of directors on the board where there was an insufficiency of numbers at present to make it one-third worker directors. In other words, where the total number is nine, three would be worker directors. Where the number was eleven, we would increase it to twelve and four of those would be worker directors. There is no final decision on these matters other than that one-third of the directors on each board will be worker directors. The figures decided upon will have to make allowance for that provision. Where the present number of directors is not a convenient multiple the proportion must be in the next whole number above whatever number would have been one-third of that figure. As the Deputy can see, there would be difficulties on each board. The position will have to be discussed with each Minister and the figure increased where necessary. In relation to each of the companies we would be coming back to the House by way of an affirmative order and it would be open to the House to make their observations in each particular instance.

I accept that. It is confusing for this side of the House for the reason that it is a third, or if the figure is not evenly divided by a third it is the next number. In the case of six companies there are seven directors including the chairman. Therefore it seems that the Minister's intention must be to increase the number in these bodies to nine. In view of the fact that the Government intends to hold an election this year there must be some indication of the decision regarding the directors. I cannot see any member of the Government pushing out directors in this alleged election year. I should like the Minister to give us more details on Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 24.
Question proposed: "That section 24 stand part of the Bill".

Section 24 reads:

The Minister may make regulations requiring a designated body to which the regulations apply to bring to the notice, in a prescribed manner, of their employees either or both of the following, namely:

(a) such provisions of this Act as are specified in the regulations,

(b) such provisions of regulations made under this Act (apart from this section) as are so specified, ...

This is a very important section. I have marked it as being the communications section. I have already said that the Bill itself should be phrased as simply as possible. I am sure the intention of this section is that the regulations governing nomination day, election day and so on be spelled out very simply. It should be clear in specifying procedures governing the elections, who is qualified to vote and who is qualified to be a candidate. These regulations should be clearly displayed in every possible place. Now that we have decided to go ahead with worker democracy, let it go right from the beginning. Let the oldest member in a company and the youngest member be fully aware of what this means within his company, the means being used to achieve it and his own entitlements. The importance of this must be emphasised. I would regard the communication of this piece of legislation from the Department through the trade unions and management to the workers as being of the utmost importance.

The Minister has said that these seven companies have been selected and that from the experience gained there the number will be expanded. My own belief is that it is a pity more State bodies were not included at this stage because I am afraid it will take a considerable time before another group of State bodies or all the State bodies are included. The scheme must be seen to work perfectly from the start. The most remote bog of Bord na Móna and the most remote depot of CIE must be supplied with the regulations explaining all that is involved.

The Minister may like to comment on this section. I want to emphasise to him and to his Department how necessary it is that it be used to the full to communicate with the workers.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 25.
Question proposed: "That section 25 stand part of the Bill".

This is one of the quorums, as it were. I have no objection to it standing part of the Bill. It is merely a matter of procedure.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 26.
Question proposed: "That section 26 stand part of the Bill".

This section apparently refers to the alteration of the memoranda and articles of association of the companies. This can be a bit drawn out in many cases. Has it already started? If not, is there any fear that it could defeat or harm or delay the Minister's intention to have the election this year?

I cannot give the Deputy an absolutely definite answer in respect of all the seven companies. I will be able to tell him on Report Stage what progress has been made in this. The Deputy will appreciate that this is purely a technical provision because as a result of this legislation they will have to amend their articles. I presume that they are proceeding with this and I will inform the Deputy on Report Stage.

I would suggest to the Minister that he should encourage them to do so because it would be tragic if any delay in those changes should delay the elections. From time to time legal difficulties can develop and cause delays.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 27.
Question proposed: "That section 27 stand part of the Bill".

This is the cost section. The designated body bears the cost of the election, with the exception of the expenses incurred by the candidates. This is quite understandable. In the case of some of those bodies I would hope that the election will be run on hairshirt lines and that no elaborate arrangements will be made. The election should be run as cheaply as possible. I feel optimistic that the costs incurred will repay themselves in time and will, in fact, be reimbursed by a better working relationship and team spirit within those companies where we have seen so much unrest in recent times.

I would ask the Minister what he intends to do on the adjudication of disputes regarding who should pay what in these elections.

Whilst I have had some discussions with the bodies concerned we will have to have some sort of settlement in advance as to how disputes of that kind will be settled. I endorse the Deputy's remarks about the cost of elections.

It would not be right to wait until after the elections to settle this. It would be the first tug-of-war.

Question put and agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 23a:

In page 16, between lines 46 and 47, to insert the following new section before section 28:

"28.—(1) In case the Minister for Transport and Power makes an appointment under section 15 or 22 of this Act in relation to Aer Lingus he shall at the same time appoint the person concerned to be a director of Aerlínte.

(2) In case a person is appointed under this section to be a director of Aerlínte, his term of office as such director shall be coterminous with his term of office as a director of Aer Lingus, and accordingly in case the person ceases to be a director of Aer Lingus he shall at the same time cease to be a director of Aerlínte.

(3) In case a person who is a director of Aerlínte appointed pursuant to this section ceases to be a director of that company, he shall at the same time cease to be a director of Aer Lingus.

(4) Subsection (4) of section 12 of the Air Companies Act, 1966, shall not apply as regards a director of Aerlínte who is appointed under this section and subsection (6) of the said section 12 shall be construed and shall have effect subject to the provisions of this section.

(5) Sections 18 and 19 of this Act shall apply to a person appointed under this section in like manner as they apply to persons otherwise appointed pursuant to this Act.

(6) Notwithstanding section 12 (2) of the Air Companies Act, 1966, the Minister may, for the purpose of giving effect to subsection (1) of this section, by order provide that on and from a day fixed by the order the number of directors of Aerlínte shall be such number as is specified in the order, and in case the Minister makes an order under this section, then for so long as the order is in force the said section 12 (2) shall be construed and shall have effect in accordance with the order.

(7) Aerlínte shall take such steps as may be necessary under the Act of 1963 to alter its memorandum and articles of association to make them consistent with this Act or any order under this section."

Amendment agreed to.
Section 28 agreed to.
SECTION 29.

I move amendment No. 23b:

In page 17, line 5, to delete: "or 22" and substitute ", 22 or 28".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 29, as amended, agreed to.
Section 30 and 31 agreed to.
SCHEDULE

Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 have been discussed with previous amendments.

Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 not moved.
Question proposed: "That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill".

I welcome the inclusion of Bord na Móna and other companies but I must express disappointment that many other companies have not been included. On earlier amendments I said I could not see why some of the other companies, compact in their nature and with a reasonably small number of workers, were not included. Many of these workers had expectations of participation. I fully understand that the wand could not be waved overnight but this measure has come very late in the life of the Government who, in their election manifesto, promised so many things. In this Committee Stage we have discussed a Bill which gives worker participation in respect of only a few of our State companies.

Question put and agreed to.
TITLE.
Question proposed: "That the Title be the Title to the Bill".

I welcome any step in the direction towards which this Bill is aimed but I repeat my regret that the Minister did not see his way to incorporate more State companies. Recently I read 1969 literature of the Labour Party on worker participation and worker democracy but this Bill is far removed from the intentions expressed in that document of eight years ago. I am not saying that all that was suggested in it would have been my gospel or that of my party in regard to the welfare of the workers but this Bill could have gone much further.

I assure the Minister of our support in any further moves in this direction. The Committee Stage of the Bill has been advantageous from the point of view of worker democracy in State companies and I repeat that our cooperation will be forthcoming when steps are taken further to investigate methods of improving this legislation, and I hope this morning's Committee Stage debate has contributed to that.

I endorse the Deputy's remark that the Committee Stage debate has been of very great benefit.

Question put and agreed to.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 2nd February, 1977, subject to agreement between the Whips.
Business suspended at 1.30 p. m. and resumed at 2.30 p. m.