The Minister for Education was in possession. Amendment No. 21 is being taken with amendment No. 20 for the purposes of debate.
The National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick, Bill, 1980: Committee Stage (resumed).
I was pointing out that the procedure in the Bill as drafted gives more flexibility and does not impose restrictions as the amendment would. The Bill covers representations from the regional technical colleges and this was approved by the House and by the Opposition speakers. As it is drafted it is more flexible and consequently the amendment does not seem to improve the situation.
Will the Minister concede that if the section as drafted is less restrictive it is also less representative and that the main restriction involved in my amendment is the restriction on the Minister's right to chose whoever he likes? In the interests of importing some degree of representativeness into the council of this institution, my amendment should be accepted.
I support Deputy Horgan on this point. The wording of this section leaves it open to the Minister to do as he pleases. It would be far more appropriate if some loose system was established as a criterion for the appointment of members from the teaching staff of regional colleges.
The fact that in (f) and (g) of section 5 (4) there are four people from the regional technical college sector, two from the teaching staff and two from the management board is a sound representation from the regional technical colleges. The very fact that the subsection says that they must be members of the teaching staff for two and that they must be members of the management board for the other two seems to me to be safeguard enough for the dual representation of the two elements of the regional technical college.
Is amendment No. 20 withdrawn?
I withdraw it at this stage but with liberty to re-enter it on Report Stage, perhaps in slightly better form because there is a serious principle involved here. If we are to accept the Minister's argument we are to accept the assumption that it is beyond the wit of man to devise adequate structures whereby the kind of selection process we are envisaging can be carried out. I do not believe that is necessarily so.
Amendment No. 21 not moved.
Why is amendment No. 21 not moved?
It is related to amendment No. 20 and was debated with amendment No. 20. Amendment No. 20 has been withdrawn so amendment No. 21 would not be moved.
One refers to the teaching staff and the other refers to the members of the board of management. They are two separate arms of regional colleges.
Generally, if one falls both fall. That is the procedure. It has already been debated. If Deputy Horgan wishes I will put the amendment but there is one thing about it. If I put it now and it is defeated it cannot be re-introduced on Report Stage as Deputy Horgan has already suggested.
We will have an opportunity of discussing it on Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 22 (a):
In page 4, subsection (5), line 44, to delete "the appointment" and substitute "appointment".
This is a drafting amendment.
I still feel it is important to enter a protest about the structure of the governing body. I am dissatisfied with the Minister's approach. I am in favour of representation directly from agricultural interests and from industrial interests as well as from the local vocational education committees where the institute sit. Would the Minister review this on Report Stage? While part of his approach is acceptable another part of it is not. Will the Minister reconsider his approach on this matter along the lines we debated here on the last day?
Am I right in thinking that even though the provisions of the First Schedule shall apply to the governing body which this particular section is setting up we would be more in order to discuss the Schedule later on?
Yes, when we come to it. A point can be made on the Schedule at this stage if it bears on this particular section.
I am happy to leave it until later. During the Second Stage debate various observations were made, particularly in relation to this section, about the proportion of the members of the board who will be direct Government or ministerial appointees. I accepted the argument in principle that as it is a national institute there should be a substantial proportion and perhaps even a majority, although I am not necessarily holding that view, who would be direct ministerial and Government appointees. In view of the fact that 15 of the 25 members of the board are to be direct Government appointees would the Minister not undertake, between now and Report Stage, to have a look at the rather heavy representation he is allocating to himself to see whether or not the mathematics might be adjusted silghtly in an attempt to give a more reasonable voice to local community representation?
Deputy Collins said he wanted to protest at the structure of the governing body. Any fair-minded person, having a look at the range and the interests covered in section 5, subsections (4) and (5), would agree that the whole area with which a National Institute for Higher Education are involved is covered.
Deputy Horgan mentioned the preponderance of ministerial appointees and asked if I would have a look on Repport Stage at the possibility of reallocating the members. This par-ticular section on the governing body was given very deep thought and consideration. The numbers allocated to the individual interests were discussed and changed a number of times. I believe that the blend, as incorporated in section 5, is good and sound and one which will stand up to examination. There is no area which would feel neglected. I would like to recommend to the House adherence to the structure outlined in section 5.
I move Amendment No. 23:
In page 5, subsection (3), lines 27 and 28, to delete "unless the Governing Body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation".
Section 6 deals with the functions of the governing body. My amendment relates to that. I believe that where a committee are established by the governing body under the section there is an obligation on the governing body to take full responsibility for the work, deliberations and decisions of any such committee. Subsection (3) says: "The acts of a committee established under this section shall be subject to confirmation by the Governing Body unless the Governing Body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation." It is unwise in principle and also legally for the institute to have such a provision in this Bill. I believe it would be better in principle and legally if all the work, deliberations and decisions of the committees appointed by the Governing body were subject to confirmation by the Governing body. That would remove the possibility of something illegal being done without the governing body being able to rectify it or be in a position to see that something was amiss. That is the reason why I asked for the deletion of the words "unless the Governing Body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation". In principle it would be good that the deliberations of all such committees would be subject to confirmation by the governing body.
Clearly, the section provides that the governing body will be the controlling authority of the institute, having full authority in the institute and managing the affairs of the institute. The point made by Deputy Collins is that the governing body should not have the power to dispense with the necessity of confirmation of the acts of the sub-committee. Inherent in that amendment is a restriction on the powers of the governing body but the section is very explicit on that point, that is, that they shall have the full authority in the national institute. There is no danger to the governing body, since they have the power, if they so wish, to dispense or not to dispense with the necessity of confirmation as they wish. In other words, any committee or sub-committee that will be set up will have to report back and get sanction and so on from the governing body if the governing body so decide. There will not be any other body having the same knowledge of their own committees.
Their having this power will free the governing body to a certain extent from dealing with much of the trivia that they would have to deal with if we accepted the Deputy's amendment. It is presumed that the committees established by the governing body will be responsible committees. Consequently, we would expect their activities to be in accordance with what the governing body consider they should be but if the governing body so decide, the Committees should be at liberty not to have to report back. The powers in the Bill are such as to enable the governing body freedom to deal with committees and this is power that we can repose in them with confidence.
I do not wish to be misinterpreted. Of course I have full confidence in the institute and in the governing body but I am merely saying that if the governing body dispense with the need to confirm actions of a committee, an unusual situation might arise. A committee might do something that would be in conflict with the legislation, perhaps something that would not be legal, and for that reason I am suggesting that there be the need always for the committees to report back to the governing body and for the governing body to confirm the committee's activities. I am not pursuing the matter as a political point. It is not at all political.
On the section I should like to discuss the question of the management and control of the affairs and property of the institute. Subsection (1) of the section provides that the Governing body shall manage and con-trol all the affairs and property of the institute. In this context I would refer back to section 4, subsection (1) which was amended by the Minister to provide for the approval of the Minister in relation to buying, acquiring, maintaining, managing, administering and investing all the property, money and assets of the institute. Having regard to the general responsibility of the institute as provided for in subsection (1) of section 6, that provision in paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4 is very restrictive. If the institute buy property they must maintain and manage that property. Leaving aside major questions of expansion or extension or of matters that would require ministerial sanction or indeed sanction through the HEA, by and large the question of the day-to-day managing and maintenance of property should be left to the good sense of the members of the governing body.
It is unnecessary to have such a restriction included because it would mean that the Minister would have to approve of all matters relating to maintenance and general administration of the property concerned. Therefore, I would ask the Minister to consider paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4, as amended with a view to changing the words "subject to the approval of the Minister", to some such formula as, "subject to the general guidance of the Minister or to conditions that may be laid down by him from time to time, the governing body shall manage and maintain their property." That would be the proper approach to the matter. It is a technical approach but the need for approval of the Minister in respect of the ordinary maintenance and management of the property is unnecessary in the context of a higher education institute. Indeed, we might omit paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4 and allow subsection (1) of section 6 to be the controlling provision in relation to the management and maintenance of the institute's property.
I should like to refer back to paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4 and to point out that the very important words, "after consultation with an tÚdarás um Ard Oideachais" are included there to indicate the kind of approval that is in mind. For example, if the university are developing an engineering school, an túdarás would do a great deal of the assessment of actual physical areas and of the capital equipment that would be required. It is not envisaged that the Minister will be poking his nose into such affairs in any context other than in the context of dealing with the authority who were set up for that purpose and who would be examining the property to be purchased and any developments that might be necessary in the institute. For that reason I do not think that paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4 is in any way inimical to section 6, that is to say, where it provides that the governing body shall manage and control all the affairs and property of the institute and shall perform all the functions conferred on the institute by this legislation.
Again, I do not wish that the Minister would misconstrue what I say. I should be happy that paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of section 4 would stand if here the words, "maintain, manage, administer and so on" were omitted. I am satisfied about the Minister's sanction in relation to the buying of properties and in relation to the investment of the assets of the institute. The only matter to which I am referring relates to the ordinary day-to-day maintenance and management of the property.
I do not see the need for the Minister's sanction always to be present. Surely section 6 (1) is sufficient to allow the governing body to manage and control all the affairs and the property? The important words are "to manage and control." I am not at all referring to the question of purchase or investment, I am merely talking about the general day to day management and maintenance of the property. I do not honestly feel that it is necessary to have this strict ministerial presence.
We are dealing now with section 6 only.
Would the Minister do me the courtesy of looking at this overall question of the day to day maintenance and management?
If I thought that the inter-pretation could be put upon this which Deputy Collins is putting on it, I would; but I do not admit that at all. It is not envisaged that there will be any interference. As I pointed out when the Deputy referred to section 4 (c), that was to be read in the context of the very important words included there about An t-Údarás um Ard Oideachas. A modus operandi has been developed since the establishment of An t-Údarás which has in no way interfered with the day to day management and maintenance of any of the designated institutions. It certainly will not interfere in any way with the day to day management of the National Institute for Higher Education.
Surely the word "maintain" is significant in paragraph (i) of subsection (c) of section 4? It is obvious that the Minister's sanction to maintain the property is required.
We left section 4 some time ago. We are relating one to the other, but this is developing into a further debate on section 4.
I beg the Chair's indulgence.
Amendment No. 24 in the name of Deputy Horgan and amendment No. 25 are related. These two amendments are to be debated together.
I move amendment No. 24:
In page 5, subsection (1), lines 29 and 30, to delete "with the approval of the Minister".
I should be happier to discuss this amendment on the Schedule, but there is a problem here in relation to the very wide power given to the Minister. I do not propose to withdraw the amendment at this stage, but should be glad to hear what the Minister will say in relation to possible precedents that may exist in this area. For example, is there a precedent in relation to the appointment of a director to the National Council for Education Awards, in which not just the conditions applying to the appointment of the director but the actual person of the director should be subject to approval by the Government? If there is any precedent in this area, my wording or that suggested by Deputy Collins would be more appropriate.
The wording of section 7 is not satisfactory. There is no need for ministerial approval in this case. We are here creating a very important senior post of director. The post is there and, when vacated, there is a need to have it filled expeditiously. There is no need for the Minister to be involved in the post as created. This is a permanent post protected by statute. It should simply be the duty of the governing body, acting on behalf of the institute, to properly advertise the post, properly assess the candidates forthcoming and make the proper appointment. That is as it should be in a third level educational institute.
That the approval of the Minister should be sought to appoint a director is unnecessary in the extreme. Certainly, in relation to the wording of section 7 (1), I am not happy with this at all. I suggested deleting the words "with the approval of the Minister" and substituting "subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe". I am not even happy with my wording and would prefer Deputy Horgan's amendment which simply deletes the words "with the approval of the Minister". We take it that the governing body are men of repute, as I am sure they will be, and surely there is no need for this bureaucracy to creep in in relation to this appointment?
Not so much bureaucracy as oligarchy.
Yes, that is correct.
It is the duty of a spokesman to raise all kinds of spectres, oligarchic or otherwise, but I am not so sure that the House should be as concerned as the Deputies claim it should be with this. Deputy Collins did mention this——
At NCEA level.
——on Second Stage.
Deputy Collins talked about three names coming up to the Minister being the procedure. Of course, that is not true at all. The practice has not been of three names coming to the Minister, in making appointments to the National Institute for Higher Education in Limerick. The procedure is that vacancies are advertised and a short list of candidates then interviewed by a selection board. As far as the Minister is concerned, his function of approval is exercised by ensuring that the vacancy is authorised, that it has been properly advertised and that the selected candidate is appropriately qualified. At times to get the best people one has to put in a statement that the salary may be higher than the minimum of the scale and the Minister has to approve the particular rate for the position. In no way can it be said that those functions of the Minister are oligarchic; in fact, they are more than democratic. The Minister is, in fact, exercising his office as someone responsible for public expenditure.
I agree with Deputy Collins that the post is a very important senior post. It is for that reason that the Minister should have the functions that I have outlined, which are not unduly interfering in the appointment to this very important post.
Arising out of what the Minister has said, the Minister's information to the House is valuable. There is only one point upon which we might differ, which is the question of the Minister's approving of the qualifications of the person concerned. If the appointment system is set up and goes through all its phases and a name is suggested to the Minister, or put up to the Minister, as the person whom the governing body wish to appoint, it is surely an extraordinary waste, at the very least, of time and money for the Minister to decide at that stage that the person's academic qualifications are such that the Minister cannot have confidence in recommending his approval for his appointment to the post concerned. In order to ensure that this kind of situation does not arise, would it not be far more beneficial if, for example, in this situation the Minister could indicate in advance to the governing body that all the persons on the short list are suitably academically qualified so that the Minister does not leave himself open to the accusation of having done somebody down for reasons that might not be entirely praiseworthy and does not put the governing body to the trouble and expense of going back and starting from scratch in appointing a director?
In light of what the Minister said, the qualification is important. If the Minister feels that he should advise the governing body as to what the proper qualification would be, then so be it. If that is the case my amendment certainly seems to be the correct modus operandi. The amendment states “subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe”. That allows him to lay down the conditions, qualifications and so on before the governing body undertake the advertising and assessing of candidates for the post. It would seem a far more logical way forward than for the governing body to advertise, assess, draw up a short list and make an appointment which has then to go to the Minister and the Minister may say that the qualifications are not right. Then you have to go right back down the line and start all over again. In logic and in good management that should be avoided. If the Minister wishes to have a presence in relation to the appointment of a director I would be of the opinion that his presence should be felt before the post is advertised rather than after. For that reason I would be keen to have my amendment considered by the Minister rather than to accept the present section.
I envisage the procedure as being one where, for example as I mentioned, a formal advertisement would appear. In 99 cases out of a 100 the activity would be purely formal. The Minister would examine the advertisement to see whether the person chosen had the qualifications corresponding to the advertisement. The Minister, and an tÚdarás no doubt in this case, would be consulted about this and I see no ministerial interference at all in the procedure. The Deputies know that on occasion at third level—we have talked about this being very much in the third level sphere—appointments at times take very strange turnings and the powers of approval, which are mild powers of approval incorporated in this section, do not interfere in any way with the selection—in fact they guarantee the selection—of the proper person for this very important post of director. I fail to see any of the weaknesses or dangers that have been mentioned by the spokesmen opposite.
I give notice that I intend to table an amendment in this regard on Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 26:
In page 5, before section 8, to insert a new section as follows:
"8.—(1) The Governing Body shall, subject to such conditions as the Minister may prescribe, from time to time appoint in a whole-time capacity a person to be referred to as "The Registrar" and who is in this Act referred to as the Registrar.
(2) The Registrar shall act as registrar and secretary of the Institute.".
This amendment seeks to insert a new section to establish a protected office to be known as "registrar" and this registrar shall act both as registrar and secretary of the institute. I went over this ground some time ago with the Minister on the NCEA Bill and did not get anywhere then with that gentleman. On this occasion there is a difference in that we are dealing now with a third level institution which will have the same status as a university. It is the practice in university colleges to have a statutorily protected office to be known as "registrar".
The purpose is quite obvious, that decisions and opinions of the governing body should be properly minuted and recorded and that an award made by the institute, through the NCEA in this case, would also be minuted and recorded properly and kept for posterity. It is only proper in an institution such as the NIHE, Limerick, and Dublin when we come to consider that, that there should be a protected office to be known as "registrar". There should be a registrar. There is need for one. I am not inserting this into the Bill to satisfy an intellectual whim on my part. I am putting it there because I feel there is a need for it in the Bill and there is a need for such an office and such a person in the institute which is a third level institute dealing with academic awards up to degree level and post-degree level. Because of that and comparing this situation with the situation in comparable colleges and other institutes, there is an obvious need for the position of registrar to be established.
As I said to the House on a number of occasions, I envisaged the NIHE, Limerick, and NIHE, Dublin, later on, to develop and grow, particularly in size. As I have stated time and time again, I envisage a technological university there very strong numerically and qualitatively by the end of this century. The National College of Art and Design have a statutory post of registrar to act as registrar and secretary of the college "and shall keep the accounts of An Bord" are the words in the Act. But the National College of Art and Design are very small compared with what the NIHE, Limerick, eventually will be and it would not be possible for a person to have the kind of duties that are envisaged for the registrar and secretary, bursar and so on in the National College of Art and Design.
It is my contention that section 9, which follows where Deputy Collins wishes to insert his amendment, gives flexibility, providing that the institute may appoint such and so many persons as it from time to time thinks proper. That includes any of the officers mentioned. This section covers all posts of the institute except that of director and authorised posts are permanent and pensionable and the incumbents are very much protected. They have the same kind of protection as the public sector employees have. There is no need for statutory protection. We think that it would be inadvisable to tie the institute to specific posts and that it would be better if it has freedom. Understandably, one specific post, that of director, must be specified. The wording of the Bill gives maximum freedom as regards the remainder to the National Institute to appoint its own officers and, of course, among them the registrar and assistant registrar. I think the point is adequately covered and that there are adequate safeguards in the Bill.
I think the Minister is not well advised on this, but that is his business. I shall not pursue the matter at great length except to reiterate that I believe there is need for a statutory protective office of registrar and secretary who would deal, if you like, with the day-to-day organisation of records and minutes and also possibly deal with students on a number of issues such as occupation of buildings and things like that and who will take legal steps where necessary to protect property and also deal with the ordinary milieu of decisions and awards. Therefore, I hope under section 9 the institute in its wisdom will see the necessity to make such an appointment and that the Minister will be able to get around the Minister for Finance to sanction it.
I move amendment No. 27:
In page 5, subsection (1), line 37, to delete "Board" and substitute "Council".
I move amendment No. 28:
In line 5, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following new subsection:
"(2) In appointing the Academic Board, the Government Body shall ensure appropriate representation of the student body among its members.".
I see that some gremlins have crept into the machinery. We have a "Government body" instead of "Governing Body" in my amendment and, with the permission of the House——
That was corrected at the commencement——
No, it was actually corrected on the previous day and it still appears incorrectly, but we will correct it today. It is a "Govern-ing Body".
I take it also that the words "Academic Board" will be replaced by the words "Academic Council" in the light of the other amendments that have been made to the Bill?
That is a minor amendment of the amendment; also "Governing Body".
I do not propose to delay on this matter. The thrust of the amendment is clear. I believe the governing body should not have the option of refusing to make any student appointment to the academic council. I believe the governing body should have the right to decide what degree of representation is appropriate. I shall be glad to hear the Minister's views on this matter.
As the National Institute will be dealing at this level, the academic level, with a highly sophisticated area, I think it is only correct that the academic council should consist of the people who are teaching in the institute, who are on the academic staff. No doubt the students would have a good deal to offer by way of suggestion to the academic council and I cannot imagine any academic council so obtuse as to refuse to listen to submissions from their students; but as it is an academic council I think its membership should be confined to the academic staff. The students are represented, as the House knows. Provision is made in the Bill for student representation on the governing body but in this particular area the students may make submissions to the academic council. I do not think it appropriate for them to have membership of it.
With due respect to the Minister, I think we are talking at cross purposes. First, I think the implication in the Minister's initial reply that students are not capable of a sophisticated approach to this or that topic would hardly be borne out by his own experience, not alone by mine. As regards the wider issue, my point was that the governing body should make some provision for the representation of students on the academic council and, somewhat to my horror, the Minister has now gone on record as saying not only that he is not prepared to put in a requirement that they should appoint students but that he does not even think they should.
The section as it stands does not prevent the governing body from appointing a student but the Minister is now on record as marking their cards well in advance and saying they should not do anything of the sort whether they want to or not. I draw attention to one of the sophisticated exercises that the academic council would be involved in under (d), that is to make recommendations to the governing body for the selection, admission, retention and exclusion of students. It is altogether essential that any arrangements made under these headings should be based on the broad consent of the governed. I would regard student representation on the academic council as a very reasonable way of ensuring at least the possibility of such consent.
What I said was that the academic council would be dealing at a very highly sophisticated level in so far as the materia academica is concerned, as regards what is being taught and developed. I was not saying that the students were not capable of a sophisticated approach in the matter—far from it. We must keep our eye on the section and section, 8 as amended, says:
(1) The Governing body shall appoint a body of persons which shall be known as and is in this Act referred to as "the Academic Council" to assist the Governing Body in the planning, co-ordination, development and overseeing of the educational work of the Institute.
(2) The Governing Body may by regulations made under this section provide for the membership and terms of office of the Academic Council established pursuant to subsection (1) of this section.
Then it goes on to say what the functions of the academic council will be and sub-section(1) says the governing body must appoint the body of persons known as the council. It is envisaged that it will be representative of the academic staff and responsible to the governing body. The final powers of decision in regard to this are quite plainly stated in subsection (1) and it is not my intention to interfere with their rights as so stated. I can assure the Deputy on that.
I was taken aback by the Minister's medieval attitude in rela-tion to possible student participation in the academic council. I am not a classical scholar, far from it, but there was a school in Athens where students elected the teachers and professors——
We will never let that happen here.
——and had the power to fire them. That was a radical way of doing things but they did not have such things as pension schemes to look after. I see the presence of student representation as a benefit to the academic council. In my capacity as a member of the board of management of the Waterford Regional Technical College, I would like to see students on the board and on all academic councils. They have their problems in their pursuit of knowledge and they have problems which they would like to see expressed at a number of levels, and the academic council would be one of the places where students' problems could be mentioned, discussed and considered.
I was surprised that the Minister took the attitude that this was a high academic body. In my view students have a right to give their views on how they see the planning, co-ordination, development and overseeing of the work of the institute. Their presence would be a benefit rather than a hindrance. I hope the governing body will not take into account what the Minister said today but rather that they will use their good sense to ensure that here would be a student presence on the academic council.
Section 8 (1) clearly gives the governing body power to appoint the academic council. There is nothing in the Bill which restricts that power. If the governing body in their wisdom decide on a format for the academic council, nobody can interfere with their decision. On student representation, there is no reason why there should not be communication between the students and the academic council. We are dealing with third level, technological and commercial studies, with emphasis on the technological, and students' views are very important. In the ordinary way any academic council worth the name would listen carefully to students and there is no restriction on the governing body from appointing a students if they see fit.
The point I was making is that the main burden of the obligation of the section will fall on the academic council, which is a very important council. In doing their duty they will have to take in the international levels required by the discipline on which they are advising the governing body and world developments in that sphere. There are many areas which students, fully occupied in the study of their disciplines, might not have the time to research. Where the activities of the academic council impinge onthe students themselves, naturally one would expect the academic council to take cognisance of their views and, if the governing body in appointing the academic council see fit or think it necessary for the specific functions of the council to have a student representative on the academic council there is nothing in the legislation which can restrict them from so doing.
We have come some distance, although not far enough, in this argument. The Minister expressed an opinion, which was not sought, as to what he thought the governing body should do in relation to their powers to appoint to the academic council. He made it clear that he would not attempt to interfere with them if they decided to appoint students representatives to the academic council. We might even get an admission from him that he would not lose any sleep if this were done.
I agree with the Minister that we must always favour and encourage communication between students and an organisation like the academic council in matters which concern the students, as most of the matters the academic council will be discussing will do. But the Minister will agree that there is a tendency, despite the sanctity of governing bodies or academic councils on the one hand or the innate good sense and desire to pass their exams on the part of the student body on the other, for communications between students and the different arms of the institutions in which they are studying to be conducted at the level of the megaphone rather than by simple face to face communication of the kind which will iron out difficulties. The Minister must also accept that this tendency will be magnified if students are denied reasonable and appropriate representation on bodies which discuss matters which are in their interest. I appeal to him to have another look at this between now and Report Stage.
I was disappointed that the Minister gave his opinion that students should not be represented on the academic council. That was an unnecessary opinion. It should have been left to the good sense and wisdom of the governing body to make their own appointments. I reiterate my support for these amendments and am of the opinion that the presence of students on governing bodies, boards of management and academic councils is of benefit to the college or institute in question. Successive Ministers for Education have taken a narrow view in relation to the presence of students on boards of management, governing bodies and so on. We need to take a giant step forward in this area.
We must accept that the presence of students is good and necessary for the full and proper understanding by students of the functions of colleges and institutes. If they were present, certainly in this case, it would lead to harmony and would be of benefit rather than of negative value as the Minister sees it. This is the second Bill I have dealt with in this House where this has occurred. It occurred on the NCEA Bill. For some reason there is something against students in the Department. We need to have a change of mind. We must take this giant step forward which has as a principle the participation of students and not the exclusion of students.
I would like to reiterate what I said about section 8. Amendment No. 28 by Deputy Horgan asks for the insertion of the following new subsection:
In appointing the Academic Board the Governing Body shall ensure appropriate representation of the student body among its members.
That is the amendment under discussion at the moment. It is an amendment with a very good objective in mind. But it is not one that is necessary within the terms of section 8 (1) because what it is actually doing is restricting the powers of the governing body. I agree with the Deputies when they say that the students' input is important but one does not expect them to put a programme together which is beyond their years or their experience or the degree of expertise reached by them at student level. That is not to say that they have not a contribution to make on what is put before them by the academic council by older and more experienced minds. As the Bill is drafted the governing body can do what Deputy Horgan wants to make compulsory on them to do and I do not think this is necessary. The governing body, being on the scene, knowing the situation, is in the best position to make decisions like that and include students if it so wishes.
I make only one further point in support of my amendment which the Minister appears to try to present in the light that I want to tie the governing body or the academic council hand and foot. It is a very odd criticism coming from the Minister, given the original format of this Bill. If we look at subsection (4) (a) of the section we will see that the academic council may
establish such and so many committees, either consisting wholly or partly of persons who are not members of the Institute, as it thinks proper to assist the Academic Board in the performance of its functions under this Act,
We have a situation in which the Minister is rejecting a modest proposal to require a minimum of one student—if the governing body thought that to be the appropriate number—to be appointed to the academic council in a section which is conferring on the same academic council the right to set up subcommittees which will include not only people who are not students but people who are not even members of the institute at all. In these circumstances my amendment is really very reasonable.
I would like to make a final point. It seems to me that Deputy Horgan has not much confidence in the governing body. I have no reason to believe that the governing body of the NIHE in Limerick will be less liberal in their views than Deputy Horgan or this House and, for that reason, imposing an obligation on them, as seems to be what he wants to do by his amendment, simply derogates from their authority and also shows a lack of confidence in the ability of the governing body to see, in the round, the best position for the academic council. That is as I interpret it. It is quite clear that this is the implication.
I have no less confidence in the academic council than I have in this legislature.
- Barry, Myra.
- Begley, Michael.
- Belton, Luke.
- Bermingham, Joseph.
- Bruton, John.
- Burke, Liam.
- Byrne, Hugh.
- Cluskey, Frank.
- Collins, Edward.
- Conlan, John F.
- Cosgrave, Liam.
- Creed, Donal.
- Deasy, Martin A.
- Donnellan, John F.
- Enright, Thomas W.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan-Monaghan).
- Flanagan, Oliver J.
- Griffin, Brendan.
- Harte, Patrick D.
- Hegarty, Paddy.
- Horgan, John.
- Kavanagh, Liam.
- Keating, Michael.
- Kenny, Enda.
- L'Estrange, Gerry.
- Lipper, Mick.
- Mitchell, Jim.
- Murphy, Michael P.
- O'Brien, Fergus.
- O'Brien, William.
- O'Keeffe, Jim.
- Quinn, Ruairí.
- Ryan, John J.
- Treacy, Seán.
- Tully, James.
- White, James.
- Ahern, Bertie.
- Allen, Lorcan.
- Andrews, Niall.
- Aylward, Liam.
- Barrett, Sylvester.
- Brady, Gerard.
- Brady, Vincent.
- Briscoe, Ben.
- Browne, Seán.
- Burke, Raphael P.
- Callanan, John.
- Calleary, Seán.
- Cogan, Barry.
- Colley, George.
- Collins, Gerard.
- Conaghan, Hugh.
- Connolly, Gerard.
- Cowen, Bernard.
- Daly, Brendan.
- de Valera, Sile.
- Doherty, Seán.
- Farrell, Joe.
- Faulkner, Pádraig.
- Filgate, Eddie.
- Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin South-Central)
- Fitzsimons, James N.
- Flynn, Pádraig.
- Fox, Christopher J.
- French, Seán.
- Gallagher, Dennis.
- Haughey, Charles J.
- Herbert, Michael.
- Hussey, Thomas.
- Keegan, Seán.
- Kenneally, William.
- Killeen, Tim.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Lemass, Eileen.
- Lenihan, Brian.
- Leonard, Jimmy.
- Leonard, Tom.
- Leyden, Terry.
- McEllistrim, Thomas.
- MacSharry, Ray.
- Meaney, Tom.
- Molloy, Robert.
- Moore, Seán.
- Morley, P.J.
- Murphy, Ciarán P.
- Nolan, Tom.
- O'Hanlon, Rory.
- O'Malley, Desmond.
- Reynolds, Albert.
- Tunney, Jim.
- Walsh, Joe.
- Wilson, John P.
- Woods, Michael J.
- Wyse, Pearse.
I move amendment No. 29:
In page 5, subsection (2), line 42, to delete "Board" and substitute "Council".
Amendments Nos. 30 and 85 are related and may be debated together.
I move amendment No. 30:
In page 5, lines 43 to 51, and in page 6, lines 1 to 19, to delete subsection (3) and substitute the following:
"(3) The provisions of the Third Schedule to this Act shall apply to the Academic Council.".
This amendment seeks to establish a Third Schedule to the Act to deal specifically with the academic council. The structure of section 8 (3) is such as to warrant its transfer to a separate Schedule. The general activities of the governing body are dealt with in the First Schedule while the Second Schedule deals with the position of a director. It is because this is a third level institute for education that there is a need to set out precisely in a schedule the position in relation to the academic council. It is a neater and tidier way of approaching this question. Amendment No. 85 is related to this. It lays down the format of the new schedule, sets out the functions of the academic council and changes, to some extent, the wording in the Bill. The amendment does not add anything but seeks to transfer subsection (3) to a Third Schedule, a neater method of dealing with the academic council from the point of view of legislation.
The Deputy is seeking to transfer the statement of the functions of the council to a new schedule. The first and second schedules are concerned mainly with procedural matters. The section referred to deals with the functions of the council. The academic council is the important council in the institute from the educational or academic point of view and it is felt fitting that it should be in the body of the Bill. There is that distinction between the two existing schedules and the new one proposed by Deputy Collins. After consultation with the parliamentary draftsman I feel the functions of the council should be dealt with in this section.
I move amendment No. 31:
In page 5, subsection (3), line 44, to delete "Board" and substitute "Council".
I move amendment No. 32:
In page 6, subsection (4), line 20, to delete "Board" and substitute "Council".
I move amendment No. 33:
In page 6, subsection (4), line 25, to delete "Board" and substitute "Council".
I move amendment No. 34:
In page 6, between lines 29 and 30, to insert the following subsection:
"(5) The acts of a committee established under subsection (4) (a) of this section shall be subject to confirmation by the Governing Body unless the Governing Body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation.".
This is mainly a drafting amendment and is inserted to complement subsection (4). It ensures that committees of the academic council will act fully in the spirit of the terms of office of the council.
I do not have any quibble with the Minister's amendment except that the governing body may dispense with the necessity for confirmation of acts done by the committee established by the academic council. That is unfortunate. Surely a committee established under this section should have its deliberations confirmed by the academic council in the first instance rather than by the governing body? If the academic council in its wisdom sees fit to establish a committee that committee is there to assist the academic council in its deliberations. Surely it is proper that the body who should confirm the deliberations of the committee should be the academic council responsible for establishing the committee in the first instance?
The governing body appoints the academic council and the academic council then goes on to appoint its own committees. That is a very sound type of chain of command or administration. The governing body has certain power unless it dispenses with it. It is in full control and may dispense in its wisdom. The power rests with it.
I do not wish to enter into a confrontation with the Minister on this matter but section 8 (4) states that the academic board, with the approval of the governing body, may establish a certain number of committees and may determine the functions of such committees. Surely where the committee is established primarily by the academic council for the purpose of assisting that council in its own deliberations, then the deliberations, decisions and recommendations of the committee should be confirmed by the academic council? If necessary the minute of the academic council confirming the committee's work should subsequently be confirmed by the governing body. It seems logical in the chain of events that the committee established by the academic council should report to that council in the first instance. The academic council should confirm its deliberations, and, if necessary, send them on to the governing body for further confirmation possibly with a recommendation. The sequence in the section is not logical. It misses out on the fact that it was the academic council who, in the first in-stance, established these committees.
Before this in amendment No. 23 the Deputy wanted to delete "unless the Governing Body dispenses with the necessity for such confirmation". I fail to see, when the Deputy urged that acts of the committee established under this subsection should be subject to confirmation by the governing body without giving the governing body any liberty of action at all how he can apply the direct opposite principle. The governing body establishes the academic council and the academic council then goes on to establish committees. It seems to me that the originating authority is the correct one to have power to confirm or dispense with confirmation. That seems logical to me and is what I am recommending.
The Minister has dealt with this in a petty fashion. When I first spoke to this amendment I stated that I had reservations about the principle of dispensing with the necessity for such confirmation. I entered a reservation where that had arisen and I entered the same caveat in relation to this Ministerial amendment. The Minister should not try to misinterpret me. I dealt with the Minister's amendment on its merits and merely pointed out that the committee we are talking about is established by the academic council and acting on behalf of it. It would seem a logical sequence to me that it should confirm its deliberations and, possibly with a recommendation, submit it to the governing body for further confirmation. That was my logic in the approach to the amendment. It is not perhaps significant but the Minister should not try to misinterpret me or deal with my submission in a petty fashion.
I move amendment No. 35:
In page 6, subsection (5), line 31, to delete "Board" and substitute "Council".
In relation to the appointment of the academic council the structure of the membership should be specified to a greater extent than is done in the Bill. On Second Stage I referred to the University College, Galway, charter and article 9 of that on page 456 states that there shall be an academic council which shall consist of the president and professors of the college with such lecturers of the college and may be co-opted by the president and professors. That sets out the structure and level. Obviously it is not fully comparable with this Bill but I would prefer to see some positive statement in the Bill as to the kind of structure the Minister would like to see in the academic council. It would have been possible to do so and include the students, on which matter we have just had a division.
There seems in the train of thought of Deputy Collins an effort to impinge on the realm or bailiwick of the governing body. That is not proper to the Bill. The governing body should have the maximum freedom in relation to the structure of the academic council within the expansive terms of reference they get in the section—the whole area Deputy Collins proposes to have consigned to a new schedule three.
I hold the directly opposite view to Deputy Collins: we should not be more specific and the structure of the academic council should be left to the governing body. The governing body knows its own see and is in the best position to structure its own academic council. Our division was simply on whether there should be an instruction to have students on the academic council, that it should be stipulated and be statutory and was not on the principle of the contribution that the students could make.
I do not know the train of thought of Deputy Collins but the Minister is not keeping to the timetable published in 1977.
More restrictive or less restrictive?
I move amendment No. 36:
In page 6, subsection (1), line 33, to delete "such and".
One could make an argument in relation to the director of a post of such national importance that the Minister should be the repository of some kind of final democratic sanction for the actual appointment of the actual person. It seems unduly restrictive to apply the same kind of conditions in relation to any or every person the institute proposes to appoint. If the section was amended as I suggest it would read:
The Institute may appoint so many persons to be its officers and servants as, subject to the approval of the Minister given with the concurrence of the Minister for Finance, it from time to time thinks proper.
I have an objection to including the phrase "such and" because that implies the Minister would have to give personal sanction to every individual who was to be appointed at any time by the institute to perform any of the tasks of officer or servant. The terminology "officers and servants" has a somewhat nineteenth century ring about it. While I accept it may have some functional use it has a certain amount of the gentleman players about it. I should like to ask the Minister if there is substance in my objection, which I believe there is.
The formula is, just as is the case with what Deputy Horgan referred to at the end of his contribution, the usual convention but I do not think it will carry the meaning that Deputy Horgan thinks it might. The words "such and" are comprehensive.
Are they essential?
The Parliamentary Draftsman advises me—and I specifically consulted him on them—that they are, because they are used in this type of context. As the Deputy knows, legal people always are very sensitive to the usage of such words and the association of such words with certain provisions in legislation. I do not think what Deputy Horgan suggested would at all be the result of their usage and I am informed that they are necessary for tight draftsmanship.
I agree with Deputy Horgan in regard to the other terms he mentioned. I agree also that there are some overtones of gentlemen and players but that is not my particular game. We did examine the 1930 Education Act and the usage is fairly general. While we examined the possibility of some other terminology, for the purpose of convenience we decided on balance it was better to use that but without any philosophic overtones or undertones.
I am prepared to withdraw my amendment in the light of what I believe to be an assurance by the Minister that there is no intention or effect in the Bill which will allow him to veto any appointment by the institute on personal grounds. If the Minister is happy that the Bill does not open this possibility to him, I am happy to withdraw it.
I am quite happy.
Amendments Nos. 37, 38 and 39 have been ruled out of order. Amendment No. 40 in the name of Deputy Horgan. Amendment No. 41 in the name of Deputy Collins is related and may be discussed with amendment No. 40.
I move amendment No. 40:
In page 6, lines 42 to 44, to delete subsection (3).
This amendment proposes the deletion of subsection (3). The effect of my amendment, I hope, is not to disempower the institute from disciplinary or regulatory actions of the kind mentioned in the subsection but to mean that it should not necessarily have to apply to the Minister for his consent to do any of these things.
There is a problem here—and while I am not satisfied that my amendment deals with it adequately, but it does open a discussion in the general area. The problem is: should we, when we are setting up institutes like this, also set up disciplinary and regulatory procedures and structures whereby persons who are suspended or removed from office have the right of appeal, or should we simply allow the person concerned to have recourse to the other institutions set up by other Acts of the Oireachtas and perhaps operating under the aegis of different Ministers? We seem here to be adopting a middle course, certainly in the subsection I am seeking to delete, in that it is stated that the institute has power to remove or suspend any of its officers from office. But it is stated in a negative fashion because it is subject to a condition, so that a positive statement is made in a negative way.
What appears to be the situation here is that in contrast, for example, with a situation in which the director—let us say, for the purpose of argument—is removed from office by the institute and, in the absence of any other provision, has the right of going to the Unfair Dismissals Tribunals or some other such structure, there is effectively a one man court of appeal residing in the Minister. It is unclear what would happen, to put it mildly, if the Minister found himself unable to concur with the decision of the institute in relation to the suspension or removal from office of the director. The Minister might very well find himself in a situation of—in order to safeguard the position of the director—having to sack the member of the governing body, or at least those members of it whom he appoints directly, which is hardly a consummation he would welcome.
In general terms it would seem to me that persons who are subject to this kind of disciplinary or regulatory action should have the right of recourse to the other institutions of the State, such as those set up under the Department of Labour. The Minister might agree with me that the regulatory mechanisms set up under the Vocational Education Act—which provide for the holding of inquiries, tribunals and so on—have really not redounded to the credit of many of the participants in many of the situations in which they have been evoked and are perhaps redolent of a different age when the kind of institutions I have talked about under the aegis of the Department of Labour simply were not available.
While not believing that the terms of my amendment meet all of the problems I have raised, I would be glad to have the Minister's observations on them.
In my amendment, No. 41, I too propose the deletion of subsection (3) whose provisions are stated in a very negative way. My amendment makes it positive that the institute may remove or suspend any of its officers, including the director, from office. The legality of removal or suspension is there to be questioned. We have Labour Court procedures. No doubt contracts will be entered into, certainly with the officers. We have the Unfair Dismissals Act. All of these exist to deal with such matters as wrongful dismissals.
My amendment is necessary because I disagree fundamentally with the Minister in his approach to the Bill. We are here setting up a third level educational institute, which is really only a branch of the Department. This subsection typifies what I mean. Here the institute is being tied hand and foot in relation to the removal or suspension of its officers without the consent of the Minister. I do not think that is necessary. The institute must be given freedom; we must have trust in them. This subsection as well as many others—where the Minister's presence is spelled out—does not move me at all. I am left quite cold by the approach. Deputy Horgan's amendment seeks merely the deletion of the subsection. Mine proposes its deletion and its substitution by something positive.
There is another drafting question I should like to raise with the Minister. The subsection says that "the institute shall not remove" and so on. Surely what should be stated there is that "the institute, through the agency of the governing body" and so on. In other words it will in effect be that while the institute itself is a body corporate, it is the governing body that will take the decision to remove or suspend.
That is not spelled out in subsection (3). Perhaps the Minister would comment on this aspect of the subsection. I do not like this trend that the institute shall not do things, or shall do things, only with the consent of the Minister. That approach goes right through the Bill. We have made very little headway to remove it from the Bill. We made certain concessions on section 4. The Bill, as it stands, is not satisfactory and this subsection of section 9 is not satisfactory. It does not place trust in the governing body of the institute. It expresses distrust in their ability to handle the question of employment. That is unfortunate and unnecessary.
To keep the record straight, amendment No. 40 is before the House. We are debating amendment No. 41 with it. It cannot be moved until we have disposed of amendment No. 40.
The main purpose of the subsection is to protect the staff. It is a very serious business to dismiss the director or a member of the staff of the institute. I agree that, as Deputy Horgan said, the Unfair Dismissals Act is relevant and agreement between unions and management are also relevant. This was put in simply as a measure of added protection for the staff of the institute. The governing body will be employing staff. There is no need to put in power for them to remove or suspend, because they have that as employers.
As Deputy Horgan put it, it looks rather raw, that the Minister, by virtue of subsection (3) of section 9, is establishing himself as a one-man court of appeal. The Minister has available to him a body of advisers, many of whom have considerable experience in industrial relations and staff-management relations. It is not as stark as a one-man court of appeal. The Minister has to make the decision. I should like to emphasise that there is a considerable body of expertise, advice and experience available to him, and he would hardly be worthy of his office if he did not avail of all those facilities.
I concede, as Deputy Horgan said, that there has been developed a mode of procedure in other cases which, to a certain extent, have proved unwieldy. I agree that there has been a considerable advance in this type of legislation in recent years. I still maintain that the subsection was introduced as a measure of protection for people at a very high level. It is very important that, in an institution, the authority and position of staff should be clearly known and clearly protected. For that reason, the section is not criticising a potential governing body. It is simply one more piece of protection for the staff of the institute. For that reason section 9 (3) should stand as it is.
Amendment No. 42 in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 45, 46 and 47 are related. The amendments will be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 42:
In page 7, subsection (5), line 1, to delete "subject to subsection (6) of this section".
That is the capital "S" at the beginning of subsection (5)?
Yes. It will read: "There shall be paid by the Institute to its officers (including the Director) and servants such remuneration and allowances as it, subject to the approval of the Minister given with the concurrence of the Minister for the Public Service, may from time to time determine."
The Minister is also deleting subsections (6) and (7). Is that right?
The Minister has moved amendment No. 42. We are debating amendments Nos. 45, 46 and 47 with it. They can be moved afterwards if necessary.
The effect will be to remove any restriction from a member of the Institute's staff from becoming a Member of either House of the Oireachtas or of the Assembly of the European Communities. As the House knows, in the original draft, an employee of the institute who became a member of the Oireachtas or of the European Assembly stood seconded from his employment during his period of membership. The House will recall that on Second Stage I indicated my intention of moving these amendments. I think I will have the general agreement of Deputy Collins and Deputy Horgan on this.
I am very pleased the Minister has decided to delete subsections (6) and (7). As they stood in the Bill they were obnoxious. Our whole attitude to participation in public life and especially in the Oireachtas and the European Parliament should be to encourage it rather than to discourage it. For Members of either House who hold academic posts in the universities or university colleges an arrangement is made about the salary received and the time off required. That is as it should be. In my amendment No. 46 I propose that when an officer or servant in the employment of the institute is elected to either House of the Oireachtas or the Assembly of the European Communities he shall be allowed such leave of absence and on such conditions and terms as laid down by the institute.
I was merely specifying that it is up to the institute to make the arrangements necessary with its officer or servant who is elected to either Parliament. I support the Minister's amendment but would ask him if he is satisfied that section 9, as amended, deals adequately with this matter.
I welcome the Minister's changes in this matter. It is hardly something that will affect a great many people but there are important civil rights involved and therefore the Minister should be complimented on the changes.
Amendment No. 43 has been ruled out of order.
I move amendment No. 44:
In page 7, subsection (5), line 5 after "determine" to add ", subject to the approval of the Higher Education Authority".
The purpose of amendment No. 43, which has been ruled out of order, was to remove the presence of the Minister for Education and the Minister for the Public Service and this amendment proposes to insert "subject to the approval of the Higher Education Authority".
It is my contention that the institute will be under the general guidance of the HEA, that planning, co-ordination and so forth will go through the HEA. It is the same in regard to conditions of employment and salaries and it is only proper that salary levels should be established with the approval of the HEA. If salaries and other conditions of em-ployment have to go through the Minister and receive the concurrence of the Minister for the Public Service we may become caught up in a position in which the Minister may be trying to control salaries in one sector of higher education and inadvertently we may have the unfortunate position that an increase in salaries may not be allowed in the Limerick institute. That would be a disturbing and unfortunate state of affairs.
If I am not mistaken, there is an unfortunate level of salary for the Director of the National College of Art and Design. That is a specific example. The level being offered to the new director there is substantially lower than the salaries of people in comparable positions elsewhere simply because it has been established at civil service level. Here we are dealing with an institute of higher education and we may end up with salary levels that will not compare favourably with those prevailing outside the civil service. That may be and will be to the detriment of the institute in Limerick. Therefore, I want to have deleted the presence of the Minister.
I appreciate that there is need to monitor salary levels throughout the third level education sector but this monitoring and control should be done by the HEA. For that reason, subsection (5) in its present form is entirely unfortunate and unsuitable for the Limerick institute.
I cannot accept the amendment. We had a discussion earlier in more philosophical terms dealing with the position of such institutes in relation to their administration by the Department of the Public Service or of Finance, as the case may be. It is generally accepted that in semi-State bodies there should be an overseeing by the Department of the Public Service of conditions of employment, salaries and so on. This is in pursuit of the responsibility that rests with that Department for public funds, and such institutions are almost totally funded from the public purse, Therefore, it is only right and natural that we would expect the Minister to be concerned in this regard.
We would all like to get rid of the shackles of the Department of Finance on the Department of the Public Service but we have a responsibility to the public in regard to the expenditure of public funds. The HEA have not got any determining function in the matter of pay. They discuss with the designated institutes current and capital needs and they advise the Department of Education. They give their findings and the Department of Education must go to the Department of Finance for the necessary money. The HEA are an advisory body and as such cannot be regarded as a body with responsibility in regard to the expenditure of public funds.
The Deputy will remember that the provisions here are the same as in the National Council for Educational Awards Act, 1979. The procedure will be as it exists in regard to other universities: claims will be submitted by the HEA in regard to the existing designated institutes and the recommendations of the HEA weigh very heavily with the Minister for Education in these matters. However, there is a need for sanction from the Minister for the Public Service who has the overall responsibility for pay in the public service.
Am I to understand the Minister to have said obliquely that the Minister for Education monitors and and controls salaries in the universities?
The money is disbursed from the Department of Education. The HEA advise the Minister for Education on the matter. As the Deputy knows, there is a global form covering current and capital financing of the designated institutes.
Does the Minister for Education approve, and must he get the concurrence of the Minister for the Public Service in relation to salaries of lecturers and professors employed in university colleges?
We are dealing only with what is before us at the moment.
The answer is yes, through the statutes.
Amendment No. 45 has been debated already.
I move amendment No. 45:
In page 7, lines 6 to 37, to delete subsections (6) and (7).
Amendments Nos. 46 and 47 are covered by decision on amendment No. 45.
It is my view that the appointment of staff primarily should come under the HEA rather than through the Minister. His presence is too much to the fore in this section. The section is most restrictive on the institute in that their powers to employ, remove, or suspend officers are surrounded by too much red tape. I am sure the governing body will not be happy with the situation. From the point of view of education the provisions in the section are most unfortunate.
I move amendment No. 48:
In page 8, subsection (2) (b), line 7, to delete "or the Director".
The governing body will establish the conditions of service, not the director, and I think that should continue to be the case.
The House will recall that the wording is similar to that used in the NCEA Act of 1979 where we had a similar situation with existing staff and the question of their being transferred. The director is the chief officer of the institute, as a reading of the Bill shows, and his duties as described in article 1 of the Second Schedule are to "...control and direct the activities of the Institute...." and "...control and direct the staff of the Institute in the implementation of such activities". Because of the specific words used, I think the director is the appropriate person to exercise the functions as described in the subsection. The inclusion of the name of the director in the subsection is appropriate for the reason I have given and I do not think I could accept exclusion of the words "or the Director".
In accordance with section 9, the conditions of service are firmly the responsibility of the institute through the governing body. I am merely continuing that concept in section 10 in relation to transferred staff. That is the logical sequence of events rather than introducing the director at this point. From a legislative point of view it is better that the governing body deal with conditions of service and so on and that applies also to new staff. It is no reflection on the director. Section 9 is quite specific about the duties of the governing body in this regard while section 10 deals with transferred staff. It is only logical that the governing body should deal with this matter in the first instance.
Article 1 of the Second Schedule states that he shall control and direct the staff of the institute. It is appropriate to include the director in this subsection. As the House will understand, there are details of control and direction that are the responsibility of the director and it is only right and proper that this should be stated in the statute. I shall have to maintain the position that the words "or the Director" shall be retained in the Bill.
The provision in the Second Schedule states that "the Director shall, subject to the directions of the Governing Body ...control and direct the activities of the Institute...." That is logical and acceptable. However, section 9 clearly establishes that the institute, through the governing body, will be responsible for employing officers and servants and laying down conditions of employment. Logically that should also be the position with regard to transferred staff. It is my contention that we should adhere to that principle.
There is no conflict. It is easy to see how the director would need that kind of authority in the ordinary day-to-day running of the institute. For instance, there might be two lecturers in mechanical engineering who could not agree on the hall they use. The director should be in a position to say that John Browne will go to one hall and John Smith will go to another hall for the purpose of giving their lectures. The governing body cannot be summoned for every detail of direction and control in the running of an institute like this.
I am merely referring to the general conditions of employment.
And Adam Smith can go to Government Buildings and deliver his lectures there.
I move amendment No. 49:
In page 8, line 17 to 29, to delete subsection (4).
This amendment is because on my reading of the subsection there seems to be conflict between the two parts of the section and there seems to be a potential injustice for members of the staff. If the Minister can persuade me that there is no conflict and no serious potential injustice I will be happy to withdraw the amendment. The conflict arises between subsections (4) (a) and (2) (b) of section 10. In subsection (2) (b) we note that the conditions of service, restrictions, requirements and obligations to which a member of the institute's transferred staff was subject by virtue of such membership immediately before his transfer to the service of the institute may not be varied other than by agreement, whereas subsection (4) (a), which my amendment seeks to delete, states that the institute may redistribute or rearrange the duties to be performed by members of the institute's transferred staff only after consultation with any recognised staff associations or trade unions concerned. This may involve an injustice to members of the staff, and surely the requirement for agreement which exists in the earlier paragraph might be more reasonably written in here. Alternatively, subsection (4) (a) is really unnecessary because most if not all the matters which might be covered are covered in subsection (2) (b) and with much greater fairness to the employee concerned.
In subsection (4) (a) there is a reference to recognised staff associations or trade unions. There are situations in which employees of any institution may be members of a trade union which is not recognised by the institution as a social partner. The rights of the employee in this situation may be further circumscribed by the fact that the institute may not deal with his representative association. I would be grateful for the Minister's comments on those points.
If we deleted subsection (4) (a) and (b) there could be a doubt as to whether the institute could make any redistribution of duties of the staff. It would also leave open the question as to whether a member of the transferred staff had to perform the duties when they were allocated to him. There is an inferred obligation of consulting with staff associations or trade unions before any such redistribution should be made. It was felt that it was better to have this covered so that it would be quite clear that a staff association had a right to be heard in this matter. I do not envisage any trouble in this area but it was felt that doubt or controversy about the rights of management or staff would do harm and cause serious disruption when the transfer was taking place. It is simply a safeguard for the staff for the right of unions and staff associations to be heard and the purpose of this is to make the transfer as efficient and as smooth as possible.
I am not entirely happy but I will withdraw the amendment.
I can now probe the Minister's mind further on the relationship between subsection (2) (b) and subsection (4) (a). They both seem to apply to staff, to duties, to conditions of service and so on. Subsection (2) (b) requires agreement of a member of the institute staff to any change in his situation, whereas subsection (4) (a) requires only that the institute should consult with any organisation to which he may belong which may wish to represent him. We should guard against any lack of clarity. I could not agree more with the Minister about this. A lack of clarity may lead the institute or the director of the institute, particularly the institute at (4) (a), to assume that all they have to do is consult with the trade union and then do what they like.
Section 10 has two effects. Subsection (4) (a) insists that the institute be consulted, and that is admirable, but in contrast subsection (2) (b) implies that the institute may do what they like after going through a consultation process that may be extremely formal.
Subsection (2) (b) referred to by the Deputy covers the ordinary contract. It is quite clear.
(b) The conditions of service, restrictions, requirements and obligations to which a member of the Institute's transferred staff was subject by virtue of such membership immediately before his transfer to the service of the Institute shall, unless they are varied by agreement, continue to apply to him and may be exercised or imposed by the Institute or the Director, as may be appropriate, while he is in the service of the Institute.
Subsection (4) (b) refers to the question of redistribution or rearrangement and the best method for having a redistribution or rearrangement is through consultations. Deputy Horgan has sufficient knowledge and experience of the terminology used with regard to negotiations between management, staff associations and trade unions to know that "consultation" is a very strong word. Any management which would in cavalier fashion say "I will consult with the staff association or trade union and then do what I like" would hardly be qualified to manage a duckhouse in the modern industrial climate. There is an obligation on the institute arising from the words of the Bill, if redistribution or rearrangement of duties take place, to consult and come to agreement with the staff association or trade union. That is clearly implied there. In the universal discourse of industrial relations that is what is meant by this subsection. For that reason it is a very important subsection and I am sure the House and the Deputy will agree that it should stand.
Amendments Nos. 50, 51, 52, 53, 54 and 55 are out of order.
I move amendment No. 56:
In page 9, subsection (1), line 16, after "year" to add "and the Minister shall cause copies of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas".
I am merely asking in this amendment that the report be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. I believe that is normal. This is really a drafting amendment. I feel the report of the institute for an academic year, having been submitted to the Minister, should also be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. I imagine the Minister, as a Deputy of this House, would be in agreement with the principle of laying such annual reports before each House of the Oireachtas.
I do not think it is necessary for this detailed annual report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. As the Deputy knows, in section 14 the annual accounts of the institute will be tabled. The provisions in the Bill are the same as those which apply to the universities and that should be sufficient. It is a third-level institution. Just as the requirement for the universities is that the accounts are presented but the annual report is not, so in the case of the NIHE, Limerick, we should have the accounts tabled. But it is not necessary to table the detailed report of the proceedings which is really for the educational world.
I believe that in the case of all annual reports of institutes and colleges which receive funding from the Department or through the HEA there is an obligation under the principle of public accountability to publish comprehensive reports annually and to allow the public, and in this case Members of the Oireachtas, to see and examine them. It is not any great defence for the Minister to say that the present position does not apply to universities. I suggest that he takes steps to ensure that the annual reports of universities and university colleges be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. It is an important principle of public accountability that that should be the case. I am disappointed to see the Minister defending the situation where annual reports of universities, university colleges and the NIHE in Limerick should not be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. That is rather disturbing.
I would like to reiterate what I said, that in the normal context of the words "public accountability" we think of accountability for moneys funded through the Houses of the Oireachtas. As I stated, in section 14 of the Bill account is taken of that and the accounts have to be tabled. That, to my mind, is sufficient evidence of my concern for public accountability. Deputy Collins wants the detailed educational reports of the national institute to be tabled. I do not believe there is any need for that. This is available to the Minister for Education and to anybody else who wants to buy it and read it just the same as are the annual reports of the universities in the country.
Surely the annual reports should at least be lodged in the Library for reference?
I can see that the Dáil Library should have a copy of them.
I move amendment No. 57:
In page 9, before section 15, to insert the following section:
"15.—The Institute may charge fees or admission charges of such amounts as may from time to time be determined by the Governing Body with the approval of the Minister for courses, lectures, examinations, exhibitions or any other event held at or by the Institute.".
Acceptance of this amendment involves the deletion of section 15 of the Bill.
This is a drafting amendment for the purposes of clarification.
In relation to the charging of fees or admission charges, will the Minister treat the institute on the same level as university colleges for the purpose of the level of fees within the institute? This is an important matter. While the governing body have the responsibility for charging fees, the Minister's approval is necessary. To what extent will the Minister dictate to the NIHE, Limerick, in this matter? Will he treat it on an equal basis to university fees? Does the Minister intend doubling university fees and NIHE fees from 1978 to 1981? Will that doubling of fees also apply to the NIHE, Limerick?
I think the Deputy is wandering, ar seachrán.
We are entitled to discuss on this amendment what Deputy Collins is looking for: the relationship between action by the Minister, action by the institute and the overall funding of third-level institutes of education. What is odd about the way in which this is phrased is that it is phrased as a permissive section in that it provides that the institute may charge admission charges of such amounts as may from time to time be determined by the governing body with the approval of the Minister.
To anybody who would normally be reading legislation, this implies that the Minister is there holding them in check, that his sole function in this regard is to prevent them from fleecing the public; but we all know that the reality is something totally different. What happens is that the Minister says to the institute in effect that if they want to keep their doors open they must charge fees of a certain magnitude because he will not give them enough money to run their courses without putting them in the situation of having to charge fees at a certain level in order to make up the difference between what he gives them and what they need to keep their doors open.
In defence of the sense of what is happening and of the politics of what is happening, the Minister is attempting to disguise a mechanism by which he forces certain bodies to charge fees of certain levels and is permitting them to charge fees only subject to his eternal vigilance. However, he is not the first Minister to attempt something of this nature.
On a point of information, what is the position regarding amendments Nos. 58, 59 and 60? May we discuss those amendments subsequent to the one we are discussing now?
Amendment No. 58 has been ruled out of order and amendment No. 59 may be discussed with No. 60.
By way of comment on the contributions in respect of amendment No. 57, the actual words in which the amendment is cast may irritate Deputy Horgan who refuses to see me in the role of somebody who is holding people back from charging fees.
On the Minister's record of the past couple of years, there are grounds for that.
I know that the Deputy would like to be kindly towards me but the fact is that for a designated institution the Higher Education Authority consult with the institution and with the Minister for Education, but the level of the fees is not decided either by the Minister or by the Department. I do not think we are entitled to enlarge the debate but with regard to the particular institute in question, that is, the NIHE at Limerick, the level of funding both capital and current has been extremely high from the beginning and the Government are committed to continue a high level of funding there in accordance with the importance they attach to that institute. As has been said here during the Second Stage debate, that institute is something unique, something of our very own that has been developed recently. For that reason the Government intend to continue funding that institute, and also the Dublin youngster as it develops, to the limit of available funds. The fees situation will be fitted in by the institute itself into that context. Generally in our third-level institutions the fees are extremely low compared with fees charged by similar institutions in other countries while our standards and our achievements do not suffer as a result of this situation.
I gather that the Minister is working on that.
The Minister's last interjection is something that we should note because to some extent it represents a sound full of fury which signifies nothing.
It signifies considerable support for a very important institute.
We know how far the limited funds available to the Minister will go this year in relation to UCD and Trinity College, for example. The grant payable to NIHE, Limerick, and which will be determined by the Minister through the good agency of the HEA, will determine the level of the quality of the services to be provided and the fees that will have to be charged by the governing body to maintain those services. In the past two years we have seen a positive policy on the part of the Government to force colleges and institutions to increase their fees for third-level education. The Minister may put whatever cloak he wishes on that but the fact remains that, for instance, in respect of the RTCs, which provide our basic technological education, the Minister last year tried to force on them a 25 per cent fee increase. We await anxiously his recommendations and regulations in this respect this year. Now he is going to insist on last year's Estimate increase being incorporated with the current year's allocation.
I was not aware that we were discussing the funding of the regional technical colleges.
We should be discussing the amendment which replaces section 15.
I am merely raising this aspect as an aside. Obviously, we cannot delve into that question. The Government are starving third-level colleges generally.
We may not widen the scope of the amendment to include other colleges.
So far as the NIHE, Limerick, is concerned, I have serious reservations about the section. The approval of the Minister means, in effect, at the direction of the Minister. In the context of the Green Paper which was published two or three years ago, and of the White Paper on the economy which was published also a couple of years ago by a man who has now departed from he Front Bench, there is definitely a policy in relation to increasing radically NIHE fees. In the next few months that policy will be obvious. The funds available to the Minister are more limited this year than they were last year. We have all read reports in the newspapers of the higher education institutions expressing reservations about the quality of services they can provide. The NIHE, Limerick, will be short of funds within the next year or so. Therefore, if the Minister is serious about funding such colleges he should reconsider the section.
The Deputy has drawn in extraneous matter. I reiterate that if you want a classic example of commitment in funding and expenditure to a higher educational institute in this country, you should go to Limerick. This institute has been heavily funded from the beginning, and properly so. That heavy funding is continuing and the funding will be such that there will not be high fees in the National Institute for Higher Education in Limerick or Dublin.
Is that a promise?
Funding will be such, I repeat, that there will not be high fees. I also repeat that our fees for third-level institutions here are extremely low, by comparison with those of other countries. I do not wish to follow Deputy Collins into the by-pass. I simply say that a 16 per cent increase in fees in 1980 is a very low increase indeed.
Amendment No. 58 is out of order. In regard to amendments Nos. 59 and 60, it would not be practical to move these amendments because they refer to the amendment of a section which no longer exists.
Alice in Wonderland.
Any outstanding issues may be raised by way of amendment on Report Stage.
Is that fair? I purposely asked the Chair, on a point of procedure before the Minister replied initially in relation to his own amendment, could I discuss amendments 59 and 60 and the Chair said that I could.
I was going further. I permit the Deputy to raise the matter upon Report Stage by way of amendment, if he so decides. If the Deputy reads the amendment, he will find he proposed changes in a section which no longer exists.
These changes would equally fit in with the substituted section.
These would require amendment of the wording. I am not trying to oppose the Deputy.
I bear with the Chair. I have a generous nature.
Subject to the right to re-enter.
Subject to the right to raise the matter again.
Amendment No. 61 is out of order.
It is unfortunate that amendment No. 61 is out of order. I would have thought that it was a legally necessary amendment to ensure that the transfer of property and liabilities from the ad hoc institute, if I may use that phrase, to the statutory institute would be done in an orderly fashion and that there might be no litigation afterwards on any grounds. I am surprised that this amendment has been ruled out of order. Is it advisable that we do not discuss it?
This section clearly involves a charge on revenue. The Chair has no other option. Those are the grounds on which it has been ruled out.
There is no revenue charge in relation to amendment No. 61. It is merely the transfer of property and liability and is a legal drafting section which ensures that whatever has been done, or is owned, by the ad hoc institute shall become the property of the statutory institute. I am surprised that this has been ruled out of order.
I move amendment No. 62:
In page 10, before section 17, to insert a new section as follows:
18.—(1) Every contract which was entered into in relation to the Institute and is in force immediately before the establishment day between the Minister and any person shall continue in force on and after the establishment day, but shall be construed and have effect as if the Institute were substituted therein for the Minister, and every such contract shall be enforceable by or against the Governing Body accordingly.
(2) Where, immediately before the establishment day, any legal proceedings are pending to which the Minister is a party and the proceedings have reference to the Institute, the name of the Governing Body shall be substituted in the proceedings for that of the Minister, and the proceedings shall not abate by reason of such substitution.".
Amendment No. 62 inserts the new section which ensures that the contract and the continuance of legal proceedings which have been entered into by the ad hoc institute will be legally binding on the statutory institute. Again, this is a drafting amendment which is necessary to protect acts done by officers of the institute prior to its being made a statutory institute. The same principle would stand in respect of amendment No. 62 as in respect of amendment No. 61.
Briefly, the Minister is full owner of all the assets and rights of the ad hoc institute. Consequently, he carries full responsibility for contract. He carries full responsibility for legal proceedings entered into by the institute as an ad hoc body. I am sure that anybody who has a contract with the ad hoc institute, or had any other kind of legal hold over the institute, would be delighted to have such an honest client as the Minister for Education responsible for the contract and the legal proceedings.
The provision which Deputy Collins makes in this amendment is not necessary.
I am merely trying to protect the Minister's legal position.
The Deputy will note my modesty with regard to my position.
Is it the Minister's political position?
I move amendment No. 63:
In page 10, before section 17, to insert a new section as follows:
"19.—Stamp duty shall not be charged on any conveyance or other instrument executed for the purpose of vesting property or any interest in property in the Institute.".
This is an enabling section, to give the institute the benefit of the non-requirement of stamp duty in relation to vesting property.
Quickly, this amendment is unnecessary because section 59 of the Finance Act of 1958 reads:
Stamp duty shall not be chargeable on any instrument (including an instrument executed but not stamped before the passing of this Act) where the amount of such duty chargeable, but for this section, would be payable solely out of money provided by the Oireachtas.
I can see the Deputy's concern. However, this amendment is not necessary because it is covered by section 59 of the Finance Act of 1958.
On a technical point, the moneys may not be entirely provided by the Oireachtas. There may be bequests and gifts.
Is the Deputy talking about bequests and gifts in the future?
Yes. It is a small point.
As of now, the property is the property of the Minister and is covered fully by section 59 of the Finance Act.
If the Minister is satisfied that it is fully covered, so am I.
I move amendment No. 64:
In page 10, subsection (1), line 2, after "1980" to add "or in the Irish language, Acht an Fhorais Náisiúnta um Ard-Oideachas, Luimneach, 1980".
This is merely putting the Irish version of the Act with the English version in short title.
Provision is made in section 2 for the Irish title and if the Deputy examines other legislation he will see that it is not the practice to quote the Irish title again in the English version of the Act.
If that is the Minister's decision, so be it.
It is following tradition.
Amendment No. 66 is related to amendment No. 65 and these two amendments may be debated together.
I move amendment No. 65:
In page 10, to delete lines 7 to 23, and substitute the following:
"1. (1) As soon as may be after the commencement of this Act, the Governing Body shall provide and retain in its possession a seal of the Institute.
(2) The seal of the Institute shall be authenticated by the signature of the Chairman or a member of the Governing Body authorised by the Governing Body to act in that behalf and by the signature of an officer of the Governing Body authorised to act in that behalf.
(3) Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the Institute and every document purporting to be an instrument made by the Institute and to be sealed with the seal (purporting to be authenticated in accordance with this Schedule) of the Institute shall be received in evidence and shall be deemed to be such instrument without proof unless the contrary is shown.".
It avoids duplication in section 2.
Yes, section 2 will enact that the institute will be united legally into a body empowered to act as one individual. It is not necessary to give similar status to the governing body. The term "institute body" has been replaced by the word "institute" to avoid confusing "institute" with the governing body.
I am glad that the Minister has introduced this amendment. There was a duplication with relation to the definitions of a body corporate with perpetual succession and so on. Section 2 refers to it initially and then we come to the First Schedule where the governing body is also a body corporate. That was an undesirable duplication. I am glad also that the Minister has moved out of the Bill, as I suggested, the term "institute body" of which I did not know the legal significance, and that the word "institute" now is the legal vehicle, so to speak, for acts done. That is an improvement.
I move amendment No. 67:
In page 10, Article 2 (1), lines 26 and 27, to delete "by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister." and substitute "by a decision of the Governing Body passed with at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, and confirmed by the Government. A chairman shall hold office for a period of five years and shall not hold office for more than ten years.".
I want to delete the circumstances in relation to the removal from office of the chairman of the governing body. Article 2 (1) states:
The chairman of the Governing Body ... may be removed from office by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister.
I am seeking to change that by substituting that the chairman may be removed from office "by a decision of the Governing Body passed with at least a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, and confirmed by the Government. A Chairman shall hold office for a period of five years and shall not hold office for more than ten years". Therefore, in this amendment I am seeking also to put a time limit on how long a chairman may serve as chairman of the governing body. I am stating that a chairman when he is first appointed shall hold office for five years, apart of course from the first chairman, who will be in office for one year, and he may not hold office for more than ten years. All these things are reasonable.
It is not right that the Government may remove from office at their whim on the recommendation of the Minister the chairman of a governing body. There may be political problems here. There may be a change of Government. There may be a personal clash between any Minister and the chairman, and the chairman may be removed in mid-term simply on political grounds which may not be justified. I am seeking not to allow that. I understand that the chairman would be appointed for a term of five years and whatever Government are in office will have their say, I suppose. That is in the nature of political life, but I do not like the structure of this section which allows the Government on the recommendation of the Minister to remove the chairman from office at their will and pleasure. That is wrong. It would be wrong to remove him save in very exceptional circumstances, such as a chairperson becoming extremely ill or so forth. That can be dealt with by the governing body themselves. I have serious reservations about the wording of Article 2 and I ask the Minister to accede to my amendment.
The amendment is not acceptable in that it would seem to be the logical course that the appointing agency should also be the agency capable of removing the appointee from office. A two-thirds majority sounds quite impressive; but the reality is that, if a meeting is attended by the bare quorum, six votes could remove the chairman from office. Therefore, there is double aspect to it. There is the aspect of he who appoints may also remove and the aspect that a very small number of people could establish themselves as a power to remove a chairman from office, both of which I would like to avoid and both of which eventualities are covered by the Schedule as drafted.
Amendments Nos. 68 and 70 are related and may be debated together.
I move amendment No. 68:
In page 10, Article 2 (4), line 36, to delete "seventy" and substitute "sixty-five".
I am seeking here to reduce to 65 the age limit at which the chairman of the gover-ning body should retire. An ordinary member also should retire at 65. I do not want to be seen as anti anybody over 65, but I have an opinion on the matter and I put it to the House.
This amendment must be supported fully by the House. It is within living memory that the young people of this country were told to make it "your kind of country" with the aid of T-shirts, pop music and goodness knows what else. We are now asked by the Minister for Education, who no doubt employed these visual aids in his own constituency in 1977, to enact into law a situation which will allow people to serve on the governing body up to the age of 70 years. I do not yield to anybody in my belief that in general the abilities and talents of the older members of society are under-used by our society and by its structures and various systems that it employs. But equally we must ensure that there is a reasonable turnover of appointments on bodies like this and we should guard against any tendency to appoint people to such institutions as a kind of honorary retirement. The Schedule, as it stands is a massive vote of no confidence in the ability of the under-65 age group to supply an adequate replacement for those of its members who have reached the 65-year age barrier. There is certainly a need for this society to harness the undoubted energy and ability of people over 65 but that does not mean that we should accept the Schedule in the terms in which the Minister has outlined it to us. I fully support the very reasonable amendment to reduce it to the age of 65.
The point that has escaped Deputies is that there is an upper age limit but there is no indication that the Minister would refuse to appoint somebody who is 20 years of age. There is simply an upper age limit of 70 mentioned in the Bill. As Deputy Horgan interpreted it, one would think that I was in the business of establishing a gerontocracy. I am saying that anybody from 18 to 70 may be appointed, any person from the youngest to age 70 may hold this office. I cannot understand how anybody can see that as an indication that the Minister will appoint somebody who is unable to do this very important job. I cannot see that there is a bias in favour of the latter period of the 18-70 range rather than the earlier period. I do not think anything in the Bill gives any grounds for that interpretation.
This is a position that will require a great deal of time. It is not a position from which a person may make a living; it is a part-time position, a position where experience in handling people, knowledge of public affairs and of matters educational is important. It is a position where familiarity with the technological and commercial range covered by the institute, which will be changing like Proteus before our very eyes, where acquaintance with that world is very important. It is difficult to find somebody at the beginning of his career with that kind of time and that kind of experience. So, we left the upper limit at 70 so that if an experienced, active and vigorous person should be available he should be allowed to act up to that age. It is no lack of confidence in our young people; in fact it is the reverse.
Are we not allowed to discuss section 2 in general?
We have a number of amendments to dispose of before we may discuss the First Schedule. We discuss the Schedule as a whole when we dispose of the amendments.
We can have a general discussion on the Schedule?
Yes, I shall put the Schedule to the House at that stage. We now come to amendment No. 69.
I move amendment No. 69:
In page 10, Article 3 (1), line 40, after "Minister" to add "only on the grounds of dereliction of duty as a member.".
This relates again to the removal from office by the Government of an ordinary member of the governing body. The Government on the recommendation of the Minister has the facility of removing from office any member it sees fit on the whim of the Government. I think that is wrong in principle. A person who has been appointed to be a member of the governing body for, say, a period of five years should except in a very certain and positive circumstances have the right to serve that five year period. I am seeking to ensure that by specifying that the ordinary member can only be removed by the Government on the recommendation of the Minister on the ground of dereliction of duty as a member. That is very important qualification in regard to the removal of a member.
I am sorry to note in this Schedule that the Government, on the recommendation of the Minister, are taking to themselves wide and sweeping powers in relation to the appointing to and removing from office of the chairman and members of the governing body. That is unfortunate and unnecessary. There should be a principle whereby a person appointed for five years should be allowed to serve out the term for which he was appointed except in very exceptional circumstances. I am trying to reinforce that principle in my amendment. I believe that section 3 (1) as it now stands is wrong in principle and needs amendment. I recommend my amendment to the House.
Governments do not have whims. The Government will not take any action which would not be soundly based and dereliction of duty would be one and probably the most important reason for the removal from office of a member of a governing body. Something that has come to the notice of the Government very often is that people accept membership of bodies and then are not very good attenders. The Government should be free, if they see that a person is not attending, to remove that person. I do not know whether you would call that dereliction of duty or not—I am sure it is. I cannot see any other reason for removal except dereliction of duty. The dereliction might not be intentional; it could result from ill-health or other inhibiting factors such as residence factors and so on. It is my contention that the power should rest with the Government to remove somebody from office when satisfied that person was no longer a fit member for the governing body.
I certainly take the point that there should be powers of removal but my contention is that these powers must be specific and confined to certain circumstances. Section 3 (1) as it now stands is not satisfactory and is open to abuse. I do not say that the present Minister or Government would do any obnoxious thing but as the Schedule now stands it is open-ended and it does allow a Government at its will and pleasure to appoint or remove ordinary members of the governing body. That is not satisfactory.