I move amendment No. 5:
In page 8, subsection (2) (e) (ii), line 32, to delete "to the Company".
This is purely a technical amendment.
Vol. 368 No. 9
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 8, subsection (2) (e) (ii), line 32, to delete "to the Company".
This is purely a technical amendment.
Amendments Nos. 5a, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 are related and may be taken together, by agreement.
I move amendment No. 5a:
In page 10, subsection (2), line 3, to delete "share of" and to substitute "share in".
These are purely technical amendments of a very minor nature. It is essentially a matter of changing the wording from "share of" to "share in". There is no substantive effect on the Bill. It is a tidying up operation.
I do not want to object to the amendment.
I move amendment No. 6:
In page 10, lines 12 to 18, to delete subsection (3) and substitute the following subsection:
"(3) If and whenever one person is the holder of more than one half in nominal value of the total issued shares in the Company, four of the directors of the Company shall be persons nominated for appointment as such directors by that person with the consent of the Minister and the chairman of the Company shall be such one of those four directors as that person may determine with the consent of the Minister."
This is quite a minor amendment involving a change of wording. I cannot see that there could be any objection.
I am prepared to accept the Minister's good faith that the words mean what they say.
I move amendment No. 6a:
In page 10, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following subsection:
"(4) At least one person representing the interests of voluntary organisations referred to in section 7 (2) shall be appointed by the Minister as director of the Company."
The purpose of this amendment is to endeavour to ensure that at least one person representing the interests of the voluntary organisations referred to in section 7 and particularly in my own amendment, which unfortunately was defeated, should be appointed by the Minister as a director of the company. We have had a fair degree of consensus on this legislation. I regret that the Minister was not able to accept my amendments, though it is true that one of the amendments he introduced was at least in the right spirit but did not give effect literally to the law as we would like to see it passed. I refer to the purposes for which the lottery fund should be applied.
I regret that the Minister would not agree to make a specific provision in respect of the appointment of voluntary organisations as sales agents to ensure that those organisations which will be affected by the promotion of the lottery would be in a position, through commission and with an agreed share of profits, to protect their activities, which we all recognise as commendable and essential for the well-being of the community generally. These arguments are over and this is the last strand of that argument.
This amendment is designed to ensure that at least one person representing the interests of the voluntary organisations referred to in my amendment should be appointed by the Minister as a director of the lottery company. It is not for me to persuade the Minister of what would promote a favourable response towards him from organisations which have over the years developed very considerable expertise and engendered great goodwill throughout the community. The appointment of at least one such person would be a recognition by the Minister of the work they have done. I believe more than one of these people should be appointed but I do not want to tie the Minister's hands. I have also indicated that it would not be his hands but those of somebody sitting on these benches which would be tied.
Voluntary organisations are apprehensive about the legislation. They want to be involved as much as possible in the lottery. They want to help and be associated in the running of it and want a reasonable guarantee of financial return for their own purposes, as has occurred over the years in their own activities. So that their voice may be heard, and their interests protected, there should be at least one voice representing their interests at board level. I am not saying the other board members will ignore their position, but there should be a representative of the voluntary organisations. There are two major umbrella organisations the Minister can choose from. It would be a matter for him, following discussions with those organisations, to determine the extent of the representations. He may decide to choose two representatives.
Were I advising the Minister in terms of his own public relations — I must say he relies as much on action as on public relations — I would suggest to him that he should make this provision. If we were dealing with this from the other side of the House we would be adopting this provision which amounts to a recognition of the role of those organisations in voluntary work. The fact that some proposals put forward by this side of the House have not been accepted will not allay the fears of those organisations despite the Minister's statement of good intentions. I must press the Minister to make provision for at least one representative from those organisations on the board. Ideally there should be two representatives but I do not wish to tie the Minister's hands.
I have outlined the measures to give voluntary organisations a chance to compete with the national lottery and said that in the event of their worst fears being realised they will participate in the distribution of the surplus of that lottery. I hope the measures I have proposed will put the lotteries of the voluntary organisations in a position to maintain their present level of income. If those running periodic lotteries produce figures which indicate that they are not able to maintain their present level of income they will be able to apply for compensation.
I am not sure that it would be appropriate to appoint a representive from the voluntary organisations to the board but I would not preclude that possibility. The licensee, in this instance An Post, will nominate four of the seven members, including the chairman, and three members will be nominated by the Minister. The general intention in the Minister nominating three members is to ensure that there will be members on the board who will act as a watchdog in the public interest. Their appointment will ensure that there will be external expertise available to the board which will lead to a more effective running of the lottery. I do not preclude the possibility of an appointment along the lines suggested by Deputy O'Kennedy but it is not appropriate to include such a provision in the Bill. In the circumstances I cannot accept the Deputy's amendment in the way it is framed.
It is worth considering an alteration to this section because it is the intention to give the company the majority of the directors on the board. Bearing in mind the objectives of the company it is crucial that the Minister should have strong representation on the board. The number of members to constitute a quorum for board meetings will be decided by the board and, as it is important that the Minister should be represented when major decisions are taken, there should be a condition that the Minister's nominees should be present for all meetings. If that condition is not included, business may be transacted in the absence of the Minister's nominees.
There is some merit in Deputy O'Kennedy's amendment. I do not see why it is not incorporated given the strong representation of such bodies in this area. If they are downgraded or suffer as a result of a national lottery I do not think any company, including An Post, will object to the appointment of a representative of those organisations to the board. Nobody questioned thebona fides of amendment No. 4a tabled by Deputy O'Kennedy, including the Minister, the Minister of State and myself. The representation sought by the Deputy for the voluntary organisations should be sympathetically considered by An Post and recommended by the Minister.
I understand that the reason for establishing the national lottery is so that benefit will accrue to citizens in the form of sporting and cultural facilities or in the form of job creation. Certainly, it will be in a self-help form. There will be many opportunities for the company, by way of contract and the purchase of supplies and services, to create employment. It is because we are dealing in tens of millions of pounds that I suggest the Government should be represented on the board by a representative of our main job creating agency, the IDA. Such a person is well qualified for membership of the board and if such an appointment is made we can be assured that jobs will be created. Given that the lottery turnover is expected to be between £90 million and £100 million it would be worthwhile having an IDA representative on the board. That nominee would look after the interests of the public. There is always the possibility of job creation. The IDA carry out the job creation policy of the Government on a continuing basis regardless of which party are in office and that should be borne in mind. The Minister has intimated that if any organisation needs help in the future he will look at the matter sympathetically but if such a body had a representative on the board they could look after their own interests.
Section 14 provides for a seven member board, four to be nominated by the company and three by the Minister to ensure that the policy intentions of the Government are observed. It is essential that the major decisions, as defined in the terms and conditions, be approved by a majority of the board, including at least one ministerial nominee. For example, a four to three vote with all the company's nominees voting one way would not be sufficient, but if that same kind of vote included a ministerial nominee that would be sufficient. A quorum should include at least one ministerial nominee. A major decision could be defined as one involving expenditure in excess of, say, £10,000, £20,000 or £30,000 or of a contract of more than one year. It could also be defined as a major decision if it resulted in a supplier receiving more than a certain amount over a 12 month period, say, for example, £25,000. It is obvious that all kinds of complications could arise in this connection and I am merely drawing the attention of the Minister to that point. If a major decision cannot be resolved within the structure of the voting guidelines of the board, another procedure could be set up.
The amendment should be considered by the Minister. Amendment 6a proposes that one person to represent the interests of voluntary organisations be appointed by the Minister. If that were accepted it would satisfy the organisations referred to by Deputy O'Kennedy and the Minister. At the moment those organisations feel they have lost out because they have not gained the licence for this lottery which is never likely to become available again. I assume that if An Post make a success of the lottery they will continue to operate it.
From the point of view of making decisions, the composition of the board should be carefully worded in the regulations. The Government nominees should be involved in major decisions so that the policy of the Government is carried out, particularly with regard to job creation. The IDA are the job creating arm of the Government and they should have a direct involvement because of their expertise and their record. I am sure any company would want to have the IDA involved because of their enormous responsibilities and the amount of public money they handle. The IDA seem to be the obvious choice.
One of the directors should be the chief executive and all of the directors should be employees of the company. The legislation has been carefully structured to gain the maximum possible confidence and to a great extent that has been achieved. Otherwise, we would be debating each section much more thoroughly and we would have tabled many more amendments. It is a measure of our confidence in what has been presented to this House that we have not done that. I ask the Minister to bear in mind the points I have raised.
The Minister has repeatedly said he will sympathetically look at very many points. While I do not question the good intentions of the Minister to do that, I am anxious to ensure that specific provision is made in the Bill to cover the points made. That is why I ask him to accept the amendment.
The Minister referred to the acumen and expertise of the people to be appointed. I want to make it very clear that we would expect the people appointed to have a certain degree of expertise and a capacity to undertake what will be a very important job. I would remind the Minister that the representatives of the voluntary organisations have a certain amount of expertise and commitment. I cannot visualise anybody more committed to a cause than those working for voluntary organisations. They would bring their expertise to any board on which they would be members. At least one representative from the voluntary organisations should be on the lottery board. That is the only point I will press.
We are all arguing towards the same good intentions but I can see the point Deputy Skelly was making about the quorum and ministerial representation. I have no objection to ministerial representation on the board. In fact, I would support that principle because there must be answerability and the most suitable people will be appointed by the Minister. The Minister's appointees might come from the public service or from interest groups. However, I am not very much in agreement with the idea of having an IDA representative on the board because I do not see what role he can play. In that context the only thing I am asking for is that one of the seven, eight or nine members of the board be a nominee from the voluntary organisations.
I have been reflecting on the points made and there seems to be an element of confused thinking on this issue. I have made clear my views on the voluntary bodies and my anxiety that they would not just maintain their position but that they would prosper under the new regime. However, I will not repeat the measures I have included to put them in that position. What are we talking about? We are talking about a subsidiary of An Post which will be set up as an efficient commercial body for a specific purpose, which is essentially to produce as much largesse as possible for distribution in the areas mentioned. The voluntary bodies who are at present running lotteries will be in competition with the national lottery—
Is the answer to put a member of one of the federations on the board of the national lottery or is it, as I have done, to put them in a better position to compete? I think that is the proper course to take.
How can they compete on an even footing with a State lottery, a State monopoly, State control and State channels?
We have covered that ground. With the removal of restrictions on advertising, increases in the prize limits and other measures, I believe they will be able to compete. Perhaps I am wrong but I believe a very big proportion of the funding for the lotteries of charitable bodies is not subscribed on the basis of somebody expecting to win a prize; people subscribe because they want to support a worthy cause.
I want to return to the confused thinking about this issue. If the national lottery produces substantial funding, is the interest of the voluntary bodies principally not to have an opportunity to participate in the distribution of the surplus? The board will have nothing to do with that; that will be decided by Government. If the argument in favour of having a representative of the voluntary bodies on the board is based on giving them a better chance to participate in the distribution of the surplus, it falls flat because the board will have nothing to do with the distribution of the surplus.
I understand the basic motivation of Deputy O'Kennedy's approach, but I cannot accept a proposal that this be written into the legislation. As I said earlier, when final decisions about board appointments are made, I would not preclude the possibility of this happening. It may be considered that such an appointment would be in the public interest or it may be that the considerable expertise of such a representative would be considered very useful. As I said, I would not necessarily preclude the possibility of appointing one of their representatives but I would not be able to accept the amendment to write it into the Bill.
Deputy Skelly mentioned a number of points which were related to the amendment and to some degree to the section, and perhaps I might comment on both to save time. The board will be responsible for the placing of contracts but they will have to be done according to public sector tendering procedures. While it would principally be a board decision, we will have nominees on the board. In the final arrangements made with An Post reference will have to be made to the observance of those procedures. I am interested in the point raised about the quorum and I will have that looked at in the context of the discussions of the articles of association of the subsidiary company.
As regards the representative from the IDA, I see the possibilities of not just direct job creation as a result of the establishment of this subsidiary but possibly indirect job creation as well. I do not want to go into that area in any detail now, but I would not be wholly honest if I did not say that in my view having somebody from the IDA on the board with a view to looking at job creation is an idea I find attractive and worth looking at. No decision has been made yet—
Is the Minister saying that some of the lottery funds would be used for job creation?
No. The thinking would be more in the area of exploitation of possible job creation opportunities through the creation of the lottery. I am thinking of lotteries in most European countries where there is a substantial market for what I might loosely call lottery technology, in printing, computers and so on. There may be the possibility of job creation in spin-off areas from the establishment of a lottery which should be looked at but, as I said, I would not preclude the possibility of having a representative from the IDA on the board.
I suggest that the Minister get somebody from the institutes of technology or from some of the really sophisticated engineering schools rather than somebody from the IDA.
It is spending money. If the Government are going to spend £10 million or £20 million we should see if we can get anything out of it.
We could get into a very confused area here but it is being looked at. No decisions have been made but whatever decisions will be made will be in the best interests of the country. There is no question of any individual or representative being excluded or precluded at this stage. The basis on which the section is at present framed is the best way to have it.
I propose to delete the section. In consultation with the Minister for the Public Service, it is proposed to rely on residual control measures which will be provided for in the Bill dealing with the Civil and Public Service being prepared at the moment following the White Paper on Civil Service reform.
Seldom one rises to oppose the deletion of a section which was introduced specifically by the Minister to have ministerial control on the level of wages, remuneration or salary and conditions of employment. What has happened since the Bill was introduced? After all, the thought and foresight that one presumes are given to include by deliberate decision section 15, we find that the Government had a specific reason for putting it in in the first instance and now have some specific reason for taking it out again. It is important that we look at the section, which provides that:
(1) The determination by the Company of the remuneration (including superannuation and any allowances for expenses) and other terms and conditions of service of the staff of the Company shall be subject to the approval of the Minister given with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service. In other words, all pay, allowances and remuneration to be paid to or on behalf of anyone employed by the company was originally to be stipulated by the Minister for Finance with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service.
Something has happened in the meantime, because that was not put in by accident. I know there were reactions from the trade unions and from some elements of Government, but I would like the Minister to tell us why that was necessary and, if I remember from Second Stage, justified and argued strongly as being necessary then, and why it is unnecessary now. The Minister is just taking the lot out, and it is not good enough for him to say that we are going to leave that aside until we get to another White Paper. If ever there has been a Government of papers, white, green, blue, all kind of discussions documents, papers and analyses, this is the Government. The Minister now tells us that he can leave out this statutory regulation because we are going to deal with it in a White Paper. It is not good enough. He must give us a better explanation than that and then we will at least begin to understand why he has changed his mind.
I am astonished at Deputy O'Kennedy's comments. In this House yesterday at the closing stages of this debate I listened to impassioned appeals from both sides of this House to take this step. His colleague, Deputy Leyden, who is Opposition spokesman in the Communications area, made a strong plea on Committee Stage to have this section deleted. Similarly on my side of the House I recall at the closing stages at least one Deputy making the same plea.
I have made many pleas that were ignored. I have been making them all day. I ask why the Minister accepted this plea.
In my opening remarks I indicated that I had studied very carefully the many constructive points made on both sides of the House by various speakers. I think Deputy O'Kennedy will accept that I have made an honest and constructive effort to respond to those points in the amendment I have put down. In that spirit I indicated in my closing speech yesterday that I felt I could respond to the pleas in relation to section 15 coming from both sides of the House. By way of reply to Deputy O'Kennedy's question let me make it clear that we are not talking about substituting something in a White Paper for this section. A White Paper on the public service entitledServing the Country Better was published following——
A better way of planning the nation's finances. They are all there,The Way Forward, Building on Reality 1985-87, we have them all.
That was a Freudian slip.The Way Forward turned out to be the way backwards.
We have all the papers.
The Way Forward is a winding road. Following the publication of that White Paper we have been engaged in the preparation of a Public Service Development Bill, and a White Paper proposed that there would be an overall provision for residual control measures which would be included in that Bill on the basis that it would not be necessary to have that point argued and debated in relation to every semi-State or subsidiary of a semi-State that came before the House. That Bill is at present in the course of preparation. I propose to rely on the residual control measures to be included in that Bill to cover not this subsidiary only but the situation entirely.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 11, line 33, after "money" to insert "(whether on the security of its assets or otherwise)".
This is a minor amendment which merely specifies that in relation to a borrowing power for the subsidiary company they would be entitled to use the assets by way of collateral or otherwise. It is not a substantial change.
It is necessary.
All of these are control sections and are very desirable.
Amendment No. 8 was discussed with amendment No. 5a.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 12, subsection (1), line 41, to delete "of" and substitute "in".
Amendment No. 9 was also discussed with amendment No. 5a.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 12, subsection (2), line 47, to delete "shares of" and substitute "shares in".
Amendment No. 10 in the name of the Minister was discussed with amendment No. 5a.
I move amendment No. 10:
In page 13, subsection (1) line 2, to delete "of" and substitute "in".
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 13, subsection (1), line 4, after "shares", to insert "after consultation, if and whenever one person is the holder of more than one half in nominal value of the total issued shares in the Company, with that person".
This is not a major amendment. However, it provides for consultation before the step in question can be taken.
Amendment No. 12 has already been discussed.
I move amendment No. 12:
In page 13, subsection (2), line 5, to delete "shares of" and substitute "shares in".
They were discussed. They were all agreed.
These are minor amendments taken together.
We have already discussed amendment No. 13.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 13, line 17, to delete "shares of" and substitute "shares in".
Amendment No. 14 has already been discussed with amendment No. 5a.
I move amendment No. 14:
In page 13, line 20, to delete "shares of" and substitute "shares in".
Here again I hope that the good intentions will be implemented because this is the section that provides that all dividends and other moneys received by the Minister in respect of shares of the authorised company shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer. We have had the Minister's firm intentions and statements of intent here and I hope that the record will be honoured and implemented. I know that the Minister intends to do that, but this leaves the scope rather broad. We have been through this argument on a number of other issues before the House and there is no point in repeating it. Subject to that, I agree with this section.
I appreciate Deputy O'Kennedy's attitude. We are talking about a minor thing, dividends on shares held in the event of the possibility that the Minister would hold shares in subsidiary companies.
Amendments, Nos. 15 and 16 have already been discussed with amendment No. 5a.
I move amendment No. 15:
In page 13, subsection (1), line 46, after "shares" to insert "in the Company".
I move amendment No. 16:
In page 14, subsection (2), line 2, after "shares", to insert "in the Company".
I have mentioned a reservation about VTUs and my reading of the definition under section 1 of the Bill is that they are precluded from coming on the market. For the benefit of the House, VTUs are video terminal units. They can be operated and they can pay out in the same manner as slot machines. I was concerned that we would not enable the national lottery or any of the companies operating under it to get into an area ancilliary to or corresponding with gaming and slot machines whose operators have updated their machinery into videos.
I take both points raised by Deputy Skelly. His fears in this regard are groundless. Remember that in relation to each lottery game it will be necessary for the company to submit to the Minister a scheme setting out the rules of the game before any such game can be initiated. Therefore, there would be major control apart from control in the following section, 30. The initial proposals by An Post offer the establishment of two types of games. One is a game something equivalent to what one gets in the petrol stations at the moment but obviously far bigger prize money is attached. The second is lotto. Neither of these would relate to the problem raised.
The Minister has power to approve any game. Has he also power to disapprove or deny under the section?
Under section 30 the Minister has power to issue directions at any time to the lottery company.
If it was pointed out through inadvertency that such a game was not desirable could he by a direction order that that be desisted?
Under section 30 wherever the Minister considers it expedient in the public interest he may issue a direction on any matter relating to the national lottery.
Amendment No. 17 in the name of the Minister has already been discussed.
I move amendment No. 17:
In page 15, subsection (4), line 55, to delete "the shares of" and substitute "shares in".
This section says "... or a person authorised to do so . . shall not, for the purposes of a lottery game other than the National Lottery, make use of the names ‘Irish National Lottery' or ‘National Lottery'". Is it intended to call this the national lottery or the Irish national lottery regardless of which company have the licence?
The intention is that it will be called one or other of those names.
To refer to Deputy O'Kennedy's concern, I was suggesting that the Minister or someone on his behalf should be involved because we are dealing with huge amounts of money. It may be possible in the area of supply or supplied services to buy Irish where possible and to use Irish manufactured goods where possible. Perhaps someone from a different field of high technology, science or computers would be interested in this role. It would have to be someone interested in a job creating programme. As far as this section is concerned, it is important that the lottery should have a national name and that the benefits should accrue to the Government and not a company which, by spending millions of pounds over a number of years, can promote a certain name which would become valuable over the years. I wish to satisfy myself on that point.
I can reassure the Deputy on that point because the section provides that the goodwill attaching to the names "Irish National Lottery" and "National Lottery" and their equivalents in the Irish language and to the name of any lottery game held by the Minister or under a licence shall vest in the Minister. I hope the Deputy is reassured on that point.
I welcome the provision in section 34 that section 22 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956, shall not apply to a lottery held pursuant to section 27 or 28 of that Act and that the Minister may by regulations amend section 27 and 28 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956, by altering the amounts specified in subsections (2)(b) and (4) of the said sections. The Minister indicated this afternoon that the purpose of this section and those provisions is to increase the amounts under which the authorised lotteries either by way of District Court licences or other authorised issue will be available. I welcome that because it is one element which will enable the voluntary organisations to increase the attraction of their fund raising campaigns. However, this is not enough. The Minister mentioned figures earlier this evening and I think he intended to increase them in one instance to £2,000 and in another instance up to £10,000 or perhaps it was up to £5,000? This is a matter for the Minister for Justice and the Minister of State could encourage him to increase those figures to the maximum possible under the supervision and licensing of the court or the chief superintendent, as the case may be.
Could the Minister give a brief explanation of what he is doing in relation to amending the Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956 to 1979, as he said they do not apply? Could he also explain subsection (2)?
This section is included specifically as part of the response to the concerns expressed by voluntary agencies. One of the points raised by their representatives was that they would be put in a very unfair position because of the present provisions in the Gaming and Lotteries Act which preclude advertising and publicity as set out in section 22. The first subsection is to lift the restriction on advertising or publicity in relation to any lottery run on the Garda permit or by licence from the District Court.
I should mention that the lifting of restrictions will not apply to private members' draws. The effect of subsection (1) will be to respond positively to that request. There was another major request from the voluntary bodies in relation to the existing limits under the 1956 Act with regard to prize money. The permitted lotteries run under Garda permit are governed by section 27 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956. At present the maximum amount which can be provided by the prize money for a Garda permitted section 27 lottery is £300. The new figure in mind for a section 27 Garda permitted lottery is £3,000. The second aspect of that case was in relation to section 28 District Court licensed lotteries. Here the maximum figure under the 1956 Act for prize money is £500 and the new figure we have in mind is £10,000. These are the explanations required. Effectively part of the response to the case made by the voluntary bodies is to enable them to maintain their position and to compete effectively in the future.
Would it be fair to say that this is a carrot which is offered to the voluntary and charitable organisations for accepting the rest of the package?
Deputy Woods can describe it any way he likes. I can only tell him what the facts are. The representatives of the voluntary agencies, following an invitation from us, came and had discussions. They requested these things and we have responded positively.
They requested a lot more but that is just a carrot.
It shows that we have a responsible caring Government.
Deputy Skelly would understand the situation.
I want to make a point on section 34. I have some misgivings when I look at a section of an Act of the Oireachtas and see that the Minister is taking for himself power to amend by regulation an Act of the Oireachtas.
Wait until the Deputy sees the next one. It is a beauty.
Here is a case where the Minister for Justice is taking unto himself the power to amend by regulation an Act of the Oireachtas. That is, in my opinion, something that should not be done and it should not appear in any Act of the Oireachtas in that format. It is wrong in principle. I have to say that and it has been said before. It should not come up from time to time. I know that certain legislation is dealt with by regulation and there is a great temptation on the part of the Executive and Ministers thereof to arrogate unto themselves greater and greater powers and thereby detract to a greater and greater extent from the essential original basic power which is vested in this House and in the Oireachtas generally.
Let me say that this creeping trend of arrogating increasing powers to themselves has been a phenomenon of succeeding Governments and not just of this Government. It is something the House should comment on and try to resist. I know that fixing the prize money and so on may not be all that important a matter. Some people would regard that as important. But I would think that a more satisfactory way of doing this — and I ask the Minister to consider this — would be to set down maximum parameters for these prize money figures in the Act and allow the Minister, perhaps by regulation, to vary these within certain parameters. But here the thing is given on an open ended basis. Here is a case where a Minister will make a regulation under his own hand and amend an Act of the Oireachtas. It is wrong in theory; it is wrong in principle; it goes against the principles of the Constitution in my opinion.
I know the Minister will refer me to section 35. Admittedly he has to place the regulation before the House and the House can, of course, within 21 days bring in a resolution, if that was ever thought of, or was possible, or anybody would regard it as in any way practicable, which it is not, to annul the regulation. We all know there is no practicality in that type of provision. Backbenchers who try to watch these things as best they can, with great difficulty for the most part, do not know of the multitude of regulations and if they did know about them the mechanisms of this House are not such that they could with any degree of reason be enabled to table, much less have carried, a motion of this House annulling such a regulation.
There is a wrong principle sneaking in here and we should watch it. It behoves any backbencher on any side of the House to draw attention to something like that, highlight it, ask the Minister to reconsider it and have a better format in our Acts of the Oireachtas. That would avoid this kind of provision, with a Minister of the Executive taking a power of that nature unto himself. That should not be.
I would like to comment on this section. An important change is being made here with reference to advertising and marketing. The Minister is lifting a restriction so that he can, in effect, go public. I have done so on Second Stage and earlier on this Stage, but must again draw the attention of the House to the course on which the Legislature are embarking. The Government will set out on a massive advertising and marketing campaign. This will encourage people to buy lottery tickets at every opportunity because if you are not in, you cannot win. They will use every device and marketing trick ever conceived to influence, through television, radio and the newspapers, every man, woman and child to become involved in this great new national pastime of lotteries. We are going to gather money up, as Deputy O'Rourke said earlier, not by way of taxes but at the cost of employment and by taxing the disadvantaged. That money will amount to tens of millions of pounds and with it we will encourage the population to spend more money on lottery tickets and get involved in a game at which they cannot win.
I am reluctant to interrupt Deputy Skelly, but we are on section 34 which deals with the amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. It appears that what the Deputy is saying would be relevant somewhere else, but it is not relevant to this section. It is not for me to rule on this, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, but it does not appear to be relevant here. There are some of us who, to be blunt, are anxious to get out of here as quickly as we can because we have been here a long time. Let us speak to the section if we are going to speak but Deputy Skelly is not on the section.
I promise the Deputy that I will desist, but I prefaced my remarks on the section by asking the Minister to explain what he was doing. He said that by virtue of section 22 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956, he was lifting the restriction on marketing and advertising, so that the Government could advertise on the market for the lottery. I know it is late in the evening, but this is one of my convictions. I have been fighting this proposal for nearly two years and see it about to take off on the slipway to be launched. I want to say a last farewell to what is left of an Ireland that I will once have known. We are now embarking on a course of encouraging gambling. This is directly relevant.
The Deputy is developing a Second Stage speech and I heard this before from Deputy Skelly on Second Stage.
You will hear it again.
Please confine yourself. The Minister explained the position to you.
I will argue for my right to say what I think.
If you only argue with me, all will be right.
All you are doing is interrupting me. I am losing my train of thought and I am delaying the House.
Please be brief.
I will be brief. I must say what I have to say. Virtually 99 per cent of the Members have no objections to this Bill. I am probably the only Member in the House who is totally opposed to lotteries. This is partly because of what will happen as a result of the removal of the restriction under this section. I must put on the record my reasons for opposing that. Otherwise I shall appear to be just a head banger, objecting and being out of step, and with everybody else right.
Nobody would take you for a head banger. You indicated your opposition already on Second Stage. What you are doing is repeating yourself.
In the Name of God, I am talking on the section now. When one is on Second Stage one is talking about the principles of the Bill. I am pointing out the effects of this section. If the Minister wants to do so, he can decide between now and Report Stage to delete this section. Therefore, I must bring up this matter on Committee Stage. The whole success of lotteries is based on the facility granted by such a section as this in that a nation can get into the business of marketing and advertising its products. The product in this instance is the lottery. The money which comes in by way of revenue from the sale of tickets will be used to advertise and encourage people to buy ever more tickets. They will become gamblers and, as experience in other countries has shown we will have a great growth in the number of gamblers and in the membership of Gamblers Anonymous. This will have a very deleterious effect on the fabric of our society, perhaps even more damaging than if the people had let in the legislation that we were trying to bring in last week. This coupled with a penchant for over-drinking, will harm society.
I ask the Minister, even at this stage, to consider whether he should remove the section. A reduced lottery would be the lesser of two evils. This is something that he will not be able to control unless the lottery falls flat on its face in a few years' time. When we consider the damage which will be done to society, the game is not worth the candle. That is all I wanted to say and I would have said it much more quickly if I had been let. I did not intend to speak longer. In spite of the fact that Deputy O'Kennedy is tired ——
The Chair is not tired.
I am tired, too.
The Chair is not tired.
I do not think Bills such as this should be rushed anyhow.
The Chair is an inanimate object. It does not get tired.
This Bill has been in the pipeline since 1979 and yet we have to rush it through the House in two short sittings before the summer recess. I want to point out these matters and put them on the record. I shall not repeat what Deputy Taylor has said. He has said it before and I have said it also. This is a tendency to get away from democracy and undermine the legislative power of this House, putting clauses such as this into this section and we are supposed to just put a rubber stamp on this to enable the lottery to get going. I do not know who runs the country, but it is certainly not being run from here.
I understand Deputy Skelly's view on this. We had originally very extensive discussions with many voluntary organisations. They expressed their concern in relation to the Bill. One of their major anxieties was their perceived inability to compete with the national lottery because of the present restriction under the 1956 Act. This was in relation, first, to advertising and, secondly, to the limits of prizes.
Following that, a decision was made to respond positively by including this section. As a believer in parliamentary democracy, I find it a little more difficult to give a total answer to the point raised by Deputy Taylor. The theory of parliamentary democracy applies to discussion in this House on virtually all acts of a legislative or regulatory nature proposed by the Executive. The problem is that real life is a little bit different. Deputy Taylor understands the kind of pressures we have on parliamentary time and the difficulties and delays in bringing forward legislation. The part of me which believes in the theory of parliamentary democracy would be inclined to agree with Deputy Taylor that this is a kind of short cut. At the same time, there is a specific provision in the Bill for bringing any such regulation before the House. This is provided for in section 35(4) under which any regulation made under section 34 or section 35 has to be brought before the House.
It would be better if it was in the positive format rather than in the negative format.
It shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. There will then be the annulling process.
Would it not be better if it required a positive resolution of the House to approve it?
The whole way in which we deal with regulations is an area that many of us should look at more closely. In theory, perhaps, there is a point in what Deputy Taylor says. Over the years and certainly in recent years, a general provision of this kind has been framed in the manner in which it is now before the House. I fully understand the point raised by Deputy Taylor. As one who is very cognisant of the need to maintain the balance generally between the Executive and the Legislature, I have a degree of sympathy for the point raised. Perhaps in a general sense it is one that all of us as parliamentarians, not just in relation to this Bill but in general, should look at in a more deliberative fashion to see what the best approach for the development of our parliamentary democracy should be. I would not like to overstate the point. In theory a strong case was made by Deputy Taylor.
I move amendment No. 18:
In page 16, subsection (2), to delete lines 44 to 46.
My apologies to Deputy Skelly in the sense that it is not a question of waiting for one's own contribution. I wonder whether Deputy Skelly, for all his conviction, was relevant on the section. He managed to relate his contribution to the section. On section 34 Deputy Taylor anticipated a little but not all of what I want to say in relation to this amendment. The Minister has had notice since Second Stage of our total rejection of the provision in this section which enables the Minister, by regulation, to change any part of the Act and not just, as referred to by Deputy Taylor initially, specific sections of the Gaming and Lotteries Act for specific purposes — two sections. I have researched this and I have never seen a provision in legislation which enables the Minister, by regulation, to change any part of the Act we have spent our time discussing.
Deputy Skelly was right when he said on section 34 that whatever we are about, we are not about recognising the authority of this House. We are being used and abused not even as rubber stamps but as sponges that can be cast aside. We soak in what we get and are then cast aside. Nobody can justify this kind of provision which says, if in any respect any difficulty arises in bringing this Act into operation, the Minister may by regulations do anything which appears to him to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation. I can go this far. If he runs into trouble we will give the Minister such power as he thinks he needs to bring the Act into effect. But the Minister is saying he needs powers to give effect to the Act passed by this Parliament, albeit in a rather rushed fashion and rather late at night.
The next two lines are absolutely unprecedented. It goes on to say, and this is what I propose to delete, "and any such regulation may modify the provisions of this Act so far as may appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for carrying the regulations into effect". Putting it bluntly the Minister can introduce a regulation to modify the provisions of the Act. Modifying the provisions of the Act means that by regulation he can change anything that we have been arguing about and discussing from section 1 to section 35. That makes a nonsense of law and Parliament and Parliament's role in discussing the law.
I understood the Minister to say that perhaps we should look at these things and get the balance a bit more correct. He seems to be sympathetic to the case made by Deputy Taylor in relation to amendments to specific sections of the Gaming and Lotteries Act, 1956. Deputy Taylor's point was well made and well taken. If the Minister's response holds good in respect of this over-riding power for two sections, surely the case is all the more cogent when the Minister can, by regulation, neutralise, change or modify all that we have been discussing in those 35 sections. I do not know of any power such as this that has been given to a Minister. It is just as well it is not the Minister for Justice who is here. If we start to introduce this kind of provision the Minister for Justice will come in some day and say we introduced that in the National Lottery Bill and power was given to a Minister to change, by regulation, sections of the Act. You would never guess what we would get into then, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
This precedent is totally unacceptable and is not necessary. I propose that those last two lines be deleted and that we give the Minister any powers he wants by regulation to give effect to what is in this Act. We can give him all those powers and say we trust him. I do not think we can be asked to give the Minister power, when he has gone home, or any time afterwards, by regulation to modify the provisions of the Act.
Perhaps the Ministerqua Minister or his colleagues qua Government colleagues deliberately decided to put this in. I do not think they did. I do not think they had the intention, the time, or the application to do so. I do not want to blame the officials. They probably got the draftsman to do it for them.
The Minister has a case to answer. I could not possibly accept this kind of provision, which is as wrong as bedamned. The Minister spoke of keeping the balance right between the Executive and the Legislature. The balance here is so bad that it has become unbalanced. A matter like this must be openly discussed in a Parliament for the people. In my 20 years here I cannot recall any legislation that gives such overriding powers. I am asking the Minister to withdraw these two lines. That is all I seek. We should not be asked to give all these powers to the Minister if he needs them "to modify"— that is a handy word.
When I made a comment earlier on section 34 I meant to make it on section 35. This is unbelievable. It is the most remarkable section I have seen in any Bill or Act in any Parliament. Words fail me. I cannot imagine how this could have got through the hands of any draftsman, how it could have got through the Attorney General's Office, the Minister's Office or the Cabinet. I think Deputy O'Kennedy was rather mild about this. I may have reservations about his amendment because one can imagine why we bothered with the Bill at all when we could have brought in an amendment to allow the Minister to do whatever he likes.
We would be wasting our time.
This just could not be right.
It is a pity it is so late.
I wish I had seen this sooner. I appreciate that the Minister may be in some difficulty and want to do something about it. Unfortunately, we are faced with all Stages now.
That is the trouble.
This will be a most dangerous precedent. I wonder if it is constitutional.
I do not think it is.
Right is right, and this is not a matter of politics but of general parliamentary principle. There will be some constitutional rows when this is seen. How did it get through? The section states:
(1) The Minister may make regulations for the purpose of enabling this Act to have full effect and any such regulations may, in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, make provision with respect to the holding of the National Lottery by the Minister.
(2) If in any respect any difficulty arises in bringing this Act into operation, the Minister may by regulations do anything which appears to him to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation and any such regulations may modify the provisions of this Act so far as may appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for carrying the regulations into effect.
"Expedient" is the word.
The Minister can modify the Act to make the Act conform to the regulations. I hope the Minister will be in a position to help us.
We gave the Minister due notice. I indicated on Second Stage that this section was unacceptable, that we would be opposing it and that I would put down an amendment.
If Deputy O'Kennedy would allow him, I think the Minister wants to say something.
I am advised there is considerable precedent for a measure of this kind, going back many years. I understand it goes back to a Social Welfare Act in the fifties. There is such a provision in section 25 of the Farm Tax Act of 1985 and I am surprised that the points being raised now were not raised then. When I opened on the Committee Stage this morning I indicated that I was prepared to listen to what Deputies would say, and listening to the views of Deputy O'Kennedy, reinforced strongly by Deputy Taylor's contribution, I believe more strongly in parliamentary democracy.
Listening to the discussion on this section I have been considering whether it would be possible to accept Deputy O'Kennedy's amendment. The original justification for including this provision was that we believed it was prudent to include it in the legislation because the Bill innovates something of technical complexity and it would be necessary, in case any technical problem arose during the operation of the Act which could be cured by regulation. This section could not be used substantively to change the provisions of the Act. Subsection (4) of this section, moreover, requires the laying of any such regulation before both Houses. This, to me is compelling. We want to get this lottery into operation, and on that basis I am prepared to accept the amendment and to delete the two lines, as proposed
It is reassuring to find arguments from all sides of the House being accepted by a Minister. It has been worth our while to raise this point. If we were to get a response like this from time to time to our amendments we would get along much better with our legislation. Not only will the Bill not suffer by the deletion of these lines but it will be a better Bill.
I would like to wish the national lottery the best of luck. I hope it will be very successful and will, as the Minister of State has indicated, be directed towards all the worthy causes we are all supporting in the House. Go n-éirí an tádh le gach éinne a mbeidh páirt aige leis an Bhille seo.