This amendment created much controversy on Committee Stage. I had submitted an amendment that the original subsection (6) be deleted. I was disappointed when we discussed the Bill at a later stage that the Minister had not seen the sense in the point I was making. It was not that I wanted the subsection deleted. In the form that it was in the Bill at that stage it was absolutely impracticable. Many of my colleagues pointed out the defects in that original subsection. Those defects meant that it was unworkable because a ridiculous situation could arise where if there were only two opportunities and six people were equally qualified despite the fact that there were only two promotion opportunities the employer concerned would commit an offence by failing to promote six qualified people. Despite the fact that we spent some time on it and the Minister was inclined to charge me with taking the real content out of the Bill, if that subsection were removed. The pleas and the reasons for them have been appreciated at last. The amendment has tidied up the situation and has made it specific. The ridiculous charge I maintained could have resulted under the original section cannot arise now. The amendment reads:
In page 5, to delete lines 40 to 44, and substitute the following:
"(6) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), a person shall be taken to contravene that subsection if he discriminates against an employee in the way he offers or affords that employee access to opportunities for promotion in circumstances in which another eligible and qualified person is offered or afforded such access or if in those circumstances he refuses or deliberately omits to offer or afford that employee access to opportunities for promotion."
That conveys what I believe should be in the Bill and what the Minister originally intended to have in the Bill. It does not create the stupid position which arose under the original subsection which read:
(6) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), a person shall be taken to discriminate against an employee if he refuses or deliberately omits to promote that employee to a post for which the employee is qualified in circumstances in which other persons equally qualified are promoted.
We spent some time on this subsection. Column 848 of the Official Report of 31st March reads:
The Minister has had a full week to look at this matter, discussion of which ended in a rather unmannerly fashion on the last occasion. I need hardly stress that the bad manners did not emanate from this side of the House. If the Minister refuses to comply with our request to amend the subsection let it be on his head that we are sowing the seeds of disruption in industrial and commercial concerns.
That is what we would have been doing. The quotation continues:
However, I am still hoping that the Minister will meet us on this point in order that this Bill, like the two previous ones, may make a contribution towards better industrial relations.
I thought the Minister should have introduced an amendment at that stage. However, he has now introduced a new subsection which guarantees equal opportunity and improves the section. The subsection is now a practical one. It can be implemented and it is understandable. A lot depends on it and, in its original form, it was not realistic. I am glad that later on we will be discussing changing the title of the Bill. I do not like the word "anti".
I charge the Minister with using legislation for political ends. As we all remember, this Bill was introduced hurriedly prior to the Mayo by-election of 1975. My recollection is that its First Reading was in October of that year. We have had many amendments since for which the Minister and his staff are to be thanked. The Bill, as passed in Committee, which we are discussing today bears very little, if any, relation to the Bill as introduced other than that the principle and intent are the same.