Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Agriculture Co-operatives.


asked the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy if he is aware of the very considerable concern among many sectors of agriculture about the need to update legislation relating to the establishment, administration and democratic control of agricultural co-operatives.

I have had representations in this matter from the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society whose document "Framework for Co-operative Development", dated January 1979, also urges, among other things, the need for new legislation to govern the operations of agricultural co-operatives. My views in this respect were stated in a written reply to a question by Deputy Bruton on 13 February 1979, and before that, in the Second Reading debate on the Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill, 1978 on 11 October 1978.

As I indicated on both these occasions, it is my intention to have commenced, as soon as other legislative priorities permit, a complete and full overhaul of the industrial and provident societies code which governs the operations of agricultural co-operatives.

Whilst accepting the need for a complete revision of the law relating to industrial and provident societies, I am not aware that the existing law is creating problems for, or inhibiting the develop ment of, agricultural co-operatives. As the Deputy is aware, the Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Act, 1978 introduced some basic and important amendments to industrial and provident society law. In particular it updated accounting requirements for societies, including agricultural co-operatives, to coincide with basic company law requirements with a view to ensuring an acceptable level of disclosure and accountability to members.

Has the prospect of separate legislation for agricultural co-operatives yet reached Government memorandum stage or is this an expression of a decision in principle to proceed?

It has not reached memorandum stage.

In view of the fact that all political parties in the House have received very strong representations from the IAOS on this matter, would it be possible to have separate legislation for agricultural co-operatives expedited?

The IAOS have asked to meet a deputation. A meeting has been arranged at official level for them to discuss what they feel should be incorporated in such legislation. It is agreed that such legislation is necessary. As soon as other priorities permit, that legislation will be forthcoming.