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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 28 Apr 1994

Vol. 442 No. 2

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Employment Entry.

Richard Bruton


2 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the plans, if any, he has to deregulate licences or other limitations that restrict entry into employment for suitably qualified people.

Seán Barrett


31 Mr. Barrett asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the plans, if any, he has to deregulate licences or other limitations that restrict entry into employment for suitably qualified people.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 and 31 together.

The Culliton-Moriarty group recommended that my Department should bring forward a programme of proposals to increase the efficiency and operation of market forces through the relaxation of controls, restrictions, licences and other limitations, whether official or private, that operate to restrict entry of suitably qualified people or firms into trades, professions and services.

During 1993 my Department conducted a wide review of regulations and restrictions which operate to restrict competition. Government Departments were requested to identify in their respective areas of responsibility where official controls or licensing systems may have the effect of limiting the beneficial effects of competition and to consider their operation in the context of improving the competitive climate, more efficient allocation of resources and increasing employment.

Some progress has been made in the following areas; the legal profession, opticians, public utilities, specifically electricity, telecommunications, oil, gas, air transport, bus transport, broadcasting, taxi-hackney licensing, ports-harbours and casual trading licences.

I should add that the proposed amendment to the Competition Act, 1991, will provide the Competition Authority with additional powers of enforcement to tackle anti-competitive activity in all economic sectors. It is proposed that the Authority will be empowered to conduct investigations on its own initiative where it believes that competition is being damaged. The Authority will also be able to take court actions against firms or organisations for breaches of competition law. In this respect an inventory of complaints of anti-competitive activity has been compiled from information gathered in the course of the Culliton review and from other sources which may be appropriate to the proposed enforcement bureau of the Competition Authority.

Is the Minister fudging this issue since it was made quite clear that by the end of 1993, his Department would bring forward a programme of proposals to deregulate, whereas no such programme has been brought forward? Furthermore, will he agree that listing various measures is not an acceptable response to a solemn Government commitment to bring forward proposals? Why was the deadline of the end of 1993 not honoured? Does it not make little of the Moriarty report if in this area, as in so many others, training and so on, deadlines are not met? Surely the Minister agrees that these deadlines were solid commitments and that it is not acceptable to let them slip by without any proper announcement?

I do not agree with Deputy Bruton. We have brought forward a range of changes comprising the areas identified and which continue to be identified. Where appropriate, in future legislation in the House, those restrictive practices will be removed.

To what specific measures initiated in his Department can the Minister point that have created opportunity for new business? Furthermore, will he agree that, in this respect, we have had no programme or National Curriculum and Education Board, as promised? Neither have major changes been effected within their attendant deadlines, which is not acceptable.

Since the Deputy asked me a specific question I refer him to the Casual Trading Bill, 1994, at present before the House under whose provisions restrictions and licences are being changed.

To render them more restrictive?

No, on the contrary; the Deputy should read the Bill.