I understand we are to resume on amendment No. 24. Amendment No. 24 is an alternative to No. 25 Amendment Nos. 37 and 38 are related. Amendment No. 36 is an alternative to No. 37. The suggestion is to take Nos. 24, 25, 36, 37 and 38 together.
Irish Horseracing Industry Bill, 1994: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage.
We have gone a step further. The Minister has replied to these amendments.
The Deputy is to conclude, is that correct?
Yes. I have agreed to withdraw amendment No. 24 given that the Minister, in amendment No. 25, has accepted the substance — and gone a little further — of our amendment No. 24. I am delighted to support the Minister's amendment No. 25 and I will say the same in relation to amendments Nos. 36 and 37 when we reach them.
I move amendment No. 25:
In page 23, lines 1 and 2, to delete "remove the person (by force if necessary) from the racecourse" and substitute the following:
"require the person to immediately leave the racecourse.
(3) A person shall comply with a requirement made of him under subsection (2).
(4) Where a person fails to comply with a requirement made of him under subsection (2) an authorised officer or a person acting under the direction of the executive of the authorised racecourse concerned may, with the assistance of a member of the Garda Síochána if he considers it necessary, remove (by reasonable force if necessary) the person from the racecourse".
I move amendment No. 26:
In page 25, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following:
"50.—Notwithstanding any provisions of this Part of the Bill, the Authority may set out regulations which will allow for the sale of bookmaker's pitches at racecourses so that authorised bookmakers with course-betting representative permits with not less than two years experience or service on racecourses, shall be able to purchase them freely.".
I ask the Minister for his response to this amendment for the record.
This amendment proposes to insert a new section on bookmaking to allow the sale of bookmakers pitches at racecourses to certain categories of permit holders. While the proposal would appear to have merit I did not intend that this Bill should be so intrusive into how the betting regime is organised on racecourses. This is primarily a matter between the racecourses and the bookmakers in the first instance. Of course, because the type of betting that takes place affects the levy and the service to the punter, the Authority becomes involved.
I ask the Deputy to closely examine section 53. This envisages agreement between racecourses and bookmakers on a whole range of issues relating to betting and the Authority bringing in regulations governing those areas. I suggest it is in those regulations that any rules on the sale of bookmaker pitches should be specified and I will give a commitment to ask the Authority to examine this, taking into account the Deputy's views on the matter, when drafting the regulations. On the above grounds, however, I oppose the amendment.
I thank the Minister for his response. He is basically saying that there will be another day to go further in relation to bookmakers' permits and pitches at racecourses. This is a vexed question. I understand that bookmakers' pitches — certainly in some of the top racecourses — can sell from £60,000 to over £100,000 at the top of the line, yet the racecourses get as little as £1,100 out of a £100,000 sale. The racecourses are providing the means for bookmakers to earn their living. This issue needs further examination and I wonder if Deputy Power has anything to add from his personal experience. If pitches are to be sold for such sums of money the racecourses, and the racing industry, should benefit to a greater degree than they apparently do at present. I accept bookmakers find it difficult to make a living and are struggling to survive. There are some high flyers at the top of the line, the big names that we all know, but the bookmakers in the middle are making an average living and no more.
I do not pretend to have much experience in this regard. My colleague, Deputy Yates, is much better qualified to talk about it and, perhaps, this can be debated more fully on another occasion.
We now come to amendment No. 27. I observe that amenmdents Nos. 28, 29 and 30 are related and the suggestion is that they be taken together.
I move amendment No. 27:
In page 27, line 6, after "may" to insert "in the event of the authorised racecourses and the authorised bookmakers failing to reach agreement".
These amendments refer to section 53 which deals with regulations in relation to authorised bookmakers. The opening sentence in the section, as amended in Committee, reads: "Subject to this section, the Authority may, by regulations, provide". There then follows a list of provisions that the Authority may make in relation to bookmakers and various aspects of their operations at racecourses. Amendment No. 27 states: after "may" to insert "in the event of the authorised racecourses and the authorised bookmakers failing to reach agreement". I am not ruling out the involvement or even interference of the Authority in organising bookmaking at racecourses but the Authority should only become involved if the racecourses and the bookmakers cannot sort matters out. At present, racecourses and bookmakers manage extremely well in organising their affairs to their mutual benefit. Maybe the racecourses do not feel that they are getting all they should. Nevertheless there is agreement at present and there has never been need for an arbitrator. I would like the role of the Authority to be that of arbitrator in the event of racecourses and bookmakers failing to reach agreement rather than having its finger in every pie and involved in every aspect of racing.
Amendment No. 27 in my name requests that only "in the event of the authorised racecourses and the authorised bookmakers failing to reach agreement" the Authority can, by regulation, make various agreements. That is a reasonable amendment. The Minister has not been generous in accepting amendments from this side and I urge him to see the good common sense in this one.
I will deal with amendments Nos. 27, 28, 29 and 30. Amendment No. 27 would have the effect that if the racecourses and bookmakers reach agreement on any or all of the items listed in subsection (1) the Authority could not make regulations governing those matters. There are a number of significant items in that subsection on admission charges for bookmakers, activities of bookmakers at authorised racecourses, betting services on course generally, facilities to be provided for bookmakers at racecourses and the possibility of the introduction of betting offices on courses. Given the importance of revenue to the Authority from that betting it would not be reasonable to remove from them all power to regulate this area. They should, when making regulations, take into consideration whatever the racecourses and bookmakers would, in agreement, propose. This is provided for in section 53 (3) where the Authority is obliged to have regard to any such agreement. I will recommend to the Authority that they take full account of any agreement as soon as practicable after it is reached.
It is proposed in amendment No. 28 that the Authority should not have power to regulate for the persons who may be admitted to or allowed place bets at on course betting offices. In the case of high street betting offices the persons admitted are limited by age under the Betting Act. It is important that young people of 14 or 15 years going to the races would not be encouraged into serious betting.
Amendments Nos. 29 and 30 propose to delete the control of opening hours of betting offices. These are restricted from admission of the public to the race fixture to one hour after the last race. This is necessary because the opening hours of the betting premises on the high street are severely restricted. They are until 6 p.m. in the evening and are closed on Sundays. An exemption is being allowed because of the direct association of betting activity with the sport of horseracing. The extended hours in the evenings and on Sundays must be limited to the event which is taking place. Any further liberalisation would involve amending the Betting Act, 1931.
As regards the proposal in amendment No. 29 to delete section 53 (3), I am sure the Deputy is proposing this in the context of amendment No. 27.
It is consequential.
For the reasons I outlined when dealing with amendment No. 27 I oppose this amendment. I reject all the amendments.
The Minister mentioned the Betting Act which is completely out of date. Running a betting office today means working illegally. If a person comes into a betting shop and watches a race for ten minutes it is regarded, under the Act, as loitering. It is illegal to hang newspapers on the wall or results in the window. The Act needs to be updated. Which Minister is responsible for that?
I regret the Minister did not see fit to accept my amendment. This is nationalisation of horseracing. The establishment of this new political Authority is being taken one step too far if it feels it needs to have its finger in all pies. The Minister referred to section 53 (3) — where the Authority proposes to make regulations it may have regard to any agreement between authorised racecourses and authorised bookmakers. He said the Authority would be obliged to take into account any agreement between racecourses and bookmakers, which could be very important in the future. Is the Minister agreeable to changing the word "may" to "shall" so that it reads "shall have regard"? Perhaps then we would be closer to what I am trying to achieve.
I take the Minister's point about the Betting Act, 1931, and the provisions for extending betting on course for up to an hour after the last race. This raises the question of the crazy situation that exists regarding off course bookmaker shops. How quickly will the Minister bring amending legislation before the House to extend opening hours to facilitate Sunday and evening racing now enjoyed in the UK and by Irish punters who leave their money with UK bookmakers?
I move amendment No. 31:
In page 28, lines 12 and 13, to delete "the Authority, with the consent of the Minister, may from time to time prescribe" and substitute "shall from time to time be prescribed by legislation".
This proposes to amend section 54 (1) (b) (i) which provides that the rate of levy on bets is 5 per cent or such other percentage as the Authority, with the consent of the Minister may, from time to time, prescribe. That is not a proper way to set a rate of levy for bets. I wonder what Deputy Power thinks about it in his heart of hearts. I do not think we should give the Authority, with the consent of the Minister, the ability to fix a levy of this kind which is nothing more than a form of taxation. It is part of our tax system. People might wish that were otherwise but it is a tax to raise revenue for purposes which will be decided by other people. It is out of order to provide that an Authority of this kind shall be empowered to raise a tax even if it is to benefit activities that come under its aegis. There is no other case as far as I am aware where we allow anyone the discretion to raise a levy of this kind, even with the consent of the Minister. We should look at this under our tax system and that is why the amendment provides that the rate should be varied from time to time as may be prescribed in legislation. This is not a power we should give to the Authority. I do not cast aspersions on the Minister or any future Minister but it is not appropriate to do it in that way. It should be done by way of legislation and that is why I tabled this amendment.
The Deputy presented a strong case. It is only in the last few years that Britain has done away with the levy or tax on the tracks. All one has to do is watch Channel 4 to hear John McCrirrick advising people to come racing and telling them they will not have to pay any tax. For many years illegal betting on tracks was a problem in Ireland. The Authority would be the first body to recognise the extent of illegal betting on tracks and would know the rate of levy to apply. I do not have any great problem with the Authority fixing the rate as it is very familiar with what is going on in the industry. At the end of the day the Authority has to get funds from somewhere and most punters do not mind paying the tax once everyone is paying it.
The Deputy must be joking.
Surely Deputy Power is not that naive.
There is always a certain amount of fair play among punters.
The Deputy has just been telling us the lengths he used to go to avoid paying the tariff.
Did the Deputy see the amount by which the revenue increased when Deputy Dukes reduced the on-course betting tax from 20 per cent to 10 per cent? Did he not learn a lesson from that?
That is a different story.
It is the same principle.
Does the Deputy know why he reduced the tax?
Deputy Power is like a turkey voting for Christmas.
He reduced it because two TDs said on television they did not pay it as the 20 per cent rate was unjust. Deputy Dukes had the good sense to reduce the tax.
I recall that television interview with Deputies McCreevy and McGahon, who got a very quick and worthwhile response to their case.
Amendment No. 31 proposes to discontinue the now long established practice of allowing the State body in the horse racing sector to decide the rate of levy to be charged on on-course betting subject to the consent of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry of the day. The Authority will receive the proceeds from the levy and will be responsible for the use of the revenues to develop the industry. It is approprate that the Authority should be allowed to decide the best rate to apply so as to bring in the greatest revenues without adversely affecting attendance at meetings. Requiring the Authority to get the consent of the Minister of the day will be sufficient safeguard, and it has worked well up to now. I do not propose any change in the present arrangements and oppose the amendment.
The Minister has great trust in future Ministers for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and I would be surprised if it were otherwise. Having been a Minister for Agriculture, I am somewhat more sceptical about Ministers for Agriculture and, if it comes to it, Ministers for Finance. I am disappointed the Minister has taken the view which he has and am astonished that Deputy Power takes the view that he does. Deputy Power's statement is a classic state of turkeys voting for Christmas. If he is purporting to represent the views of those in the business I am afraid they will get a very lukewarm response in future from Ministers for Agriculture, Ministers for Finance and anybody else if they complain about the rate of the on-course betting levy.
It is a pity that the levy is being applied in this inappropriate way. It would not have cost the Minister anything to accept my amendment. All it would require is two or three more minutes debate during the debate on the Finance Bill each year. This matter could be properly handled in that context as it would be in its proper place. I regret the Minister favours the continuing direct involvement of the Minister for Agriculture in taxation policy, something he should not be occupying himself with at all.
I move amendment No. 32:
In page 29, to delete lines 4 to 14 and substitute the following:
"(b) The rate charged by the Authority shall be the short term `single A' rate charged for the time being to borrowers by the commercial banks plus 2 per cent.".
The Minister should be a little more open-minded on this issue. I am not sure if he fully understands that what he has provided for in the Bill is nothing less than extortion. We are talking about an interest charge to be imposed on bookmakers who have not paid the levy due or made proper returns to the Authority in respect of such a levy or both for a period of one month. Deputy Power would do well to listen to my remarks.
If for any reason, whether it is good or bad or through negligence, carelessness or simple error, a bookmaker fails to make returns for more than a month under section 54 (4) (b) (i) the Authority may charge interest on the amounts overdue at the appropriate percentage rate, which is supposed to be linked to currently prevailing interest rates, of 15 per cent per annum. I do not know if Members who also happen to be bookmakers have to fund their payments of levy by borrowing, but they would have to be running their business very badly if they had to pay an interest rate of 15 per cent to any of the banks which we all love to hate so much these days even for that kind of accommodation. The rate proposed is nothing less than extortion and the Minister has not put forward any good reason for charging an interest rate of that kind.
The amendment proposes that the rate to be charged by the Authority of overdue amounts should be the short term single A rate charged for the time being to borrowers by the commercial banks plus 2 per cent. Today that rate would be less than 15 per cent. There were times when that formula was considerably less than 15 per cent and we all hope there will be many times in the future when the single A rate plus 2 per cent formula will be considerably below 15 per cent and will stay below it for a long time.
If amounts are overdue it is entirely appropriate that the Authority should be able to recover some interest on them; after all the Authority will have things to do with the money and will have to rely on a fairly constant and predictable flow of money. It is appropriate that the Authority should be able to charge interest on what is after all akin to a normal commercial contract debt and to charge interest on overdue amounts in the same way as other creditors. However, to say in one subsection that the rate of interest to be charged by the Authority shall have regard to the level of interest rates generally in the State and to literally say in the next breath that the rate shall be 15 per cent is outrageous. One can argue in favour of the Authority having regard to the level of interest rates in the State, but it is proposed that the penalty rate should be pitched as high above those as one can get away with.
The formula proposed in the amendment, the single A rate plus 2 per cent, is rather high. The single A rate charged by the commercial banks is the highest in the grid of normal daily commercial lending in which they indulge. There is a certain amount of pain involved in that and it is reasonable to charge something over and above that figure, and we have suggested that it should be 2 per cent. To state baldly that the rate of interest shall be 15 per cent per annum is outrageous. I ask the Minister to omit that and to insert the provision in amendment No. 32. It should not be our business, in making a provision of the kind contained in section 54 (4), to impose such a harsh penalty on people that they are likely to be put out of business. The rate we propose already includes a certain element of penalty and does so far more reasonably than is contained in the Bill. I anticipate that the Minister will say there might be times—or that there were times in the not too distant past — when the "single A" rate plus 2 per cent would have amounted to more than 15 per cent. If the Minister uses the same logic he used yesterday, I suppose in the next 50 years those circumstances might recur although we all hope they will not. If they do the levy payable by on course bookmakers on amounts overdue to the Authority will be one of the last things we will worry about.
I ask the Minister to accept this amendment as being a much more reasonable way of doing the job than this section sets out to do.
When Deputy Dukes was Minister for Finance he became champion of bookmakers when he reduced the off-course levy from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, so I am delighted to see him batting for them here again today. He makes a very good case since the provision in the Bill appears to be very harsh and hard to justify. I will quote section 54 (4) (a) which reads:
Where a bookmaker is found not to have paid levy due or not to have made proper returns to the Authority in respect of such levy or both for a period of one month, the Authority may make an assessment of levy due and may charge interest at an appropriate rate .......... [in this case 15 per cent].
Section 54 (2) (a) reads:
An authorised bookmaker who fails or neglects to pay any sum payable by him in respect of a levy may have any permit granted to him under section 48 suspended or revoked by the Authority.
Therefore, bookmakers will do their best to ensure that the levy is paid. Of its very nature it is a difficult game, bookmakers have good times and bad and many fall on hard times.
So do a lot of punters. I hear laughter behind me.
Usually the punter loses only what he has in his pocket but it is different in the case of a bookmaker.
I wish that were the case.
This is a very harsh provision. No other group of people who collect levies on behalf of the State are treated in this manner. Therefore, I urge the Minister to consider the case made to him.
Will Deputy Power support us on the vote?
I rise as a punter, not as a bookmaker like Deputy Power, to add my lifetime of experience to support the amendment in the names of Deputies Doyle and Dukes. I have yet to meet a poor bookmaker but, like every other trade or profession, there are degrees of poverty and some bookmakers struggle from time to time and we should have compassion for them. It is unreasonable to add a penal rate of interest to money a bookmaker may be making a genuine effort to pay because, as Deputy Power said, on occasions bookmakers can be hit by, dare I say it, a Flashman type of coup. Deputy Power knows what coups are. The reality is that if the Minister happened to encounter a bookmaker who fell on bad times in his constituency, possibly that bookmaker would be petitioning him to intervene on his behalf to the Revenue Commissioners or the Racing Board. This is ridiculous. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment of Deputies Doyle and Dukes.
The purpose of this section is to ensure that the Authority is not used as a banker for short term borrowing through delays in payment of the levy. Therefore, it should be taken in conjunction with section 54 (4) (a) which stipulates that where a bookmaker is found not to have paid the levy due then the Authority may charge interest. If a bookmaker, for a reason of a transitory nature, is not able to pay, it is not the intention to penalise that bookmaker but a person who decides to use the Authority as a banker. In addition, under the provisions of section 54 (4) (ii) the Authority may vary the rate of interest "so standing specified and this section shall have effect in accordance with the terms of any such regulations". The Authority may charge the rate of interest and vary it. The overall object is to ensure that bookmakers do not use the Authority as a banker. For that reason the rate must be higher than that charged by the banks. Of course, the ideal position is that this rate would never be levied, that all bookmakers would pay the levy when due. Section 54 (4) (b) (ii) allows the 15 per cent rate to be changed simply by regulation with the consent of the Minister. I consider that satisfactory. There are dangers of inserting in legislation an exact amount, and rates of interest to be charged by a particular part of the banking sector, as these may be restructured so that over time the references could become inappropriate. For that reason, I oppose the amendment as being unnecessary.
On a point of information——
Sorry, much as I would like my constituency colleague to come in twice——
Just on a point of information, we spoke last evening about natural justice. Where is the natural justice in the use of the word "may" when one bookmaker could be charged a different levy from another? Why should that be? Can the Minister not accept Deputy Dukes's definite proposal?
Deputy McGahon's question was fair. The Minister's response is not just nonsense but doubly nonsense. If the Minister is relying on the flexibility contained in section 54 (4) (b) (ii) I would have to ask why in God's name is that section included? Second, it is nonsense for the Minister to argue, as Deputy McGahon said, that the "may" contained in section 54 (4) (a) provides an option for the Authority because, as sure as God made little apples, if bookmakers, as a body, find out that some of them are being charged interest on overdue amounts and others are not, there will be the father and mother of a row, and rightly so.
The Minister has just stated in much more eloquent terms than I ever could that section 54 (4) is absolute, utter, patent nonsense. It will be an administrative nightmare if the Minister thinks it will be used in the manner he says and he is a wee bit disingenuous. We are all used in this House to Ministers defending their Bills on Committee and Report Stages, arguing with the Opposition about the difference between the words "may" and "shall". Sometimes Ministers say "may" means almost the same thing as "shall". An odd time a Minister comes in, like this Minister, and says it means a very different thing from "shall". The trouble is this Minister is saying that "may" does not mean "shall" in circumstances where it would create chaos. Is the Minister really telling us that the Authority will sit down solemnly and say, for example, that Deputy Seán Power is a bookmaker who owes them money for the past six weeks and must not be allowed to use the levy as a bank loan and that they will zap him 15 per cent, while Deputy Brendan McGahon who, for the sake of argument, is also a bookmaker owes them money for the past three months but is known to have had back trouble recently and has hospital bills to pay so they will not charge him interest? That is absolute nonsense. If the Minister is saying that the Authority will carry out its business in that way I am tempted to tell him that it would be as well if he threw up the Bill altogether and started all over again. To tell us that a penal level of charges such as this is justified, that it will be optional for the Authority and that the authority can change it at any time it wishes is putting before us what can only be described as a dog's dinner.
I have listened to the debate on the amendment and with particular interest to what the Minister has said. The amendment and the section are not of central importance; they apply only to bookmakers and are of importance only to them. I suggest that even bookmakers are entitled to simple justice and that this House should not pass a section or a subsection that clearly is deficient. Section 54 (4) (a) provides that the Authority may charge interest to bookmakers who are in default. It goes on to provide that it may charge interest at an appropriate rate from the day on which any such levy became due and in doing so the Authority shall have regard to the level of interest rates generally in the State. That would be fair enough if it stopped there. Having told them that they should have regard to the level of interest rates generally in the State, the next subparagraph states that it shall be 15 per cent——
——as of June 1994. The following subparagraph gives the Authority the right to vary the rate. If 15 per cent is defined as the appropriate rate, having regard to the level of interest rates generally in the State, it can only go up. Interest rates today are the lowest in about 20 years. I do not think any financial or economic commentator has forecast any significant drop from now on. Rates have bottomed out. If the appropriate rate when interest rates are at their lowest is 15 per cent, then the variation clause given to the Authority can, in practice, only be exercised upwards, if it is to be exercised in accordance with the spirit of this subsection. That is entirely wrong.
I question this subsection on two other grounds. One is the startling statement by the Minister that the Authority may arbitrarily charge some bookmakers and may not charge others. This is essentially a taxing section. The subsection, if passed in this form, is open to challenge on the grounds that you cannot operate in this way. Where a quango, such as this Authority, made up of appointed individuals, can arbitraily decide whether somebody is charged thousands of pounds in interest or whether he is absolved of it. The subsection is open to challenge.
It is also open to challenge in that under subsection (4) (b) (ii) the Authority is allowed to vary the rate. As I have said, it will only vary the amount upwards because the present rates are the lowest in the past 20 years. The Authority is being given power to impose the equivalent of taxation. We cannot give a quango such power. Only this House can increase tax. The subsection is not of importance to anyone other than bookmakers but they too are entitled to justice. If they are to be taxed they cannot be taxed in an arbitrary way where some will be required to pay and others will not if they are friendly with the members of the Authority. The Authority should not be entitled to fix, in effect, the rate of taxation that defaulting bookmakers will pay; only this House can fix the tax. The Minister should think very seriously about this matter.
The only fault I have with the amendment in the names of Deputies Doyle and Dukes is that the rate they propose instead of the 15 per cent is too high. The single A rate plus 2 per cent which they propose instead of the 15 per cent is too high. Why charge 2 per cent above the single A rate, which is the highest borrowing rate in the State other than short term bridging finance? There may be a time when the single A rate plus 2 per cent would be higher than the 15 per cent penal rate. We witnessed such a situation some years ago and we may, unfortunately, witness it again.
There is more to this subsection than the rather minor function which the Minister suggests to prevent bookmakers using what they owe to the Authority as a loan or working capital. You cannot stop people defaulting by allowing somebody arbitrarily to charge whatever they like against certain people and not against others. It is particularly important that it should not happen where the Authority is made up of people who will be appointed by the Minister. This is a recipe for real difficulty and complaint. It affects only bookmakers but we should not exaggerate its significance. The seriousness of the principle involved is considerable and should not be brushed off simply because it applies only to perhaps 1,000 people.
I have listened with interest to the debate on the amendment to which I am a co-signatory. Confusion in relation to ministerial replies to points made is creeping into the debate. In relation to the last amendment the Minister interpreted the word "may" in section 53 (3) to mean that there would be an obligation on the Authority to take into account any agreement between the racecourses and the bookmakers. The word "may" in section 54 (4) where it is stated that the Authority "may make an assessment of levy due and may charge interest at an appropriate rate" has been interpreted by the Minister as meaning that it may apply in some cases and not in others. There is some leeway for the Authority to decide whether to impose the levy depending on whether the bookmaker is a cumann card holder or went to school with them. I do not know why "may" in the second instance leaves some discretion to the Authority as to whether it will proceed on the lines suggested, whereas in relation to the previous amendment the Minister has clearly put on the record that the word "may" would oblige the Authority to consult with racecourses and bookmakers.
The word "may" has crept into many subsections and sections of the Bill. This is a contentious issue. The Minister seems to be able to interpret it in the way he sees fit. I am not sure how it would be interpreted, legally, if any of the sections are challenged but there is confusion. When I have suggested that he insert the word "shall" to make it more definitive the Minister has said that by including the word "may" the Authority will be obliged to do something; but in this instance he is saying that the Authority will not be obliged, rather that it will have discretion to decide which bookmaker will be levied with an interest charge. There is a need for clarification. The Minister cannot pick and choose a la carte because the legal people would have a field day in resolving any issues that may arise.
We now come to amendment No. 33. Amendment No. 34 is related. It is proposed that amendments Nos. 33 and 34 may be discussed together by agreement. Agreed.
I move amendment No. 33:
In page 33, to delete lines 1 to 21 and substitute the following:
"(3) The Authority shall publish a statement of the minimum services and facilities to be ensured at racecourses. It shall have the right to add specific provisions or requirements in relation to any specific racecourse. It shall also have the right to modify both the published requirements and the specific requirements for individual racecourses in the light of developments in safety standards and procedures and any other developments that impinge on the safe organisation and running of race fixtures.
(4) Application for racecourse authorisation shall be made by the executive of the racecourse concerned to the Authority and shall be in such form and contain such information as the Authority may decide.
(5) The Authority may not unreasonably refuse to grant an authorisation. An appeal shall lie from a refusal of an authorisation by the Authority to a court of competent jurisdiction.
(6) An authorised racecourse shall continue to be authorised unless and until the executive of that racecourse unreasonably refuses to comply with the conditions set by the Authority, as modified from time to time in accordance with subsection (3) of this section.
(7) When an Authority finds that the general and specific requirements attached to the authorisation of an authorised racecourse are not being fulfilled, it may suspend the authorisation until such time as it is satisfied that the requirements are again being met. Where the Authority has cause to suspend the authorisation of a racecourse on two or more occasions in any period of five years, the Authority may revoke the authorisation and the racecourse in question shall cease to be an authorised racecourse.
(8) The Authority may not unreasonably suspend or revoke an authorisation. An appeal shall lie from a suspension or revocation by the Authority to a court of competent jurisdiction.
(9) An authorised racecourse (within the meaning of the Act of 1945) in existence immediately before the establishment day, shall on that day be deemed to be an authorised racecourse.".
This is a considerable amendment to section 59, which deals with the authorisation of racecourses. Concern has been expressed about the Minister's proposals in this regard, not least the proposal that racecourses will be authorised for a period of five years only. Racecourses which want to undertake a capital investment programme and borrow from financial institutions to provide extra facilities and services will encounter major difficulties. If the financial institutions realise that racecourses will be authorised for a maximum period of five years at any one time it could jeopardise the ability of racecourses to raise finance to fund badly needed capital developments.
I fail to see why the Minister can authorise racecourses for a period of only five years given that the Authority will have extensive powers to revoke an authorisation, and rightly so, if a racecourse is not providing an adequate service and is not running its business in accordance with the terms laid down by the Authority. I have no difficulty with the proposal that the Authority should be given the power to revoke an authorisation provided this is done fairly and for a good reason, but once an authorisation is granted a racecourse should be allowed to retain it for a period longer than five years. Deputy O'Malley has proposed a figure of ten years. It should be allowed to retain it indefinitely as long as it manages its affairs in accordance with the terms laid down by the Authority; there should be no threat of non-renewal after a period of five years. This is not acceptable.
We suggest in the amendment that the Authority should publish a statement of the minimum services and facilities to be ensured at racecourses. As long as they meet the minimum standards they should be allowed to retain the authorisation.
We also suggest that the application for a racecourse authorisation should be made by the executive of the racecourse concerned to the Authority and contain such information as the Authority may decide, or indicate that it is fulfilling the criteria laid down, and that the Authority should not unreasonably refuse to grant an authorisation or suspend or revoke an authorisation and that the racecourse should be allowed to appeal the decision to a court of competent jurisdiction in either instance.
We further suggest that an authorised racecourse in existence before the establishment day of the Authority should be deemed to be an authorised racecourse. That is acceptable.
Our amendment reflects the position on the ground far better than the section in the Bill. I am unhappy that it is proposed to limit an authorisation to a period of five years.
Section 59 (5) states that the Authority may, as it sees fit, from time to time attach new terms or conditions to a racecourse authorisation. This could be applied in a draconian fashion. If Brezhnev was a senior steward he would be proud of this provision. If they see fit at any time they will be able to change the rules of the game. Adequate notice should be given to a racecourse if the criteria are to be changed or if new terms and conditions are to be attached to a racecourse authorisation. There is no way after a period of five years that one can turn around and say, particularly to the smaller racecourses, that new terms and conditions are to be attached to the authorisation. It has been decided that there is no need to tell the Authority that it must act in a fair and impartial way. These courses may encounter greater difficulties in gaining access to funds and as a consequence they may encounter greater difficulty in complying with any new terms and conditions attached without warning to an authorisation. We may find that smaller racecourses may not comply with new terms produced suddenly out of the hat by the Authority during an interregnum of six to 12 months.
This could be used by the Authority as another weapon to close some of the smaller racecourses. It could be used as a technical barrier. Reference has been made to the law of natural justice. I am concerned that the Authority will not be seen to have the best interests of the smaller racecourses at heart, given that it will have control over funds, fixtures and programmes. The smaller racecourses could be squeezed if the members of the Authority were of a mind to do so. I know that some of the people who will be members of the Authority have little commitment to remote rural racecourses, which are of vital importance to the local economy. I strongly believe that only racecourse executives should be able to decide that a racecourse should stop trading. I do not want the Authority to be given the power, overtly or otherwise, by the Minister to squeeze out some of the smaller racecourses throughout the country. I am afraid that there is a hidden agenda.
I ask the Minister to accept this substantial amendment tabled by Deputy Dukes and I and that the points we will make augment the Bill and will protect the interests not only of the Authority but of all the component parts of Irish racing.
The system we are proposing in this amendment covers most of the concerns set out in the Bill, which seeks to give the Authority the power to add new conditions to a racecourse authorisation during the currency of that authorisation. I can see cases where this might be necessary and we have provided for something similar in the amendment. The difference is that the amendment provides for something that is not provided for in the Bill, that is, a final court of appeal in relation to the conditions set out. There may not often be any argument but it is as well to include a provision just in case there is. The Minister argued yesterday on several occasions that he wanted to include provisions in the Bill just in case something may happen during the next 50 years. In this case we can be much more specific and we have provided for the possibility of an appeal. If there is a dispute between the Authority and an authorised racecourse both sides could take the case to an independent arbiter.
One of the central points is that the Minister is proposing that the authorisation should last for a period of five years only. Deputy O'Malley has proposed that it should last for ten years. That is more congenial, but I can see no reason why a term of years should be specified. If a racecourse meets the standards initially set down by the Authority and upgrades them in accordance with developments on the safety aspects of racing fixtures, it should not have to go through the bureaucratic process of applying every five years for an authorisation. The amendment which Deputy Doyle and I tabled provides a mechanism under which we can make sure that authorisations continue in being and that racecourses are provided with the information and incitation they need to keep abreast of modern standards. There is no reason to oblige racecourses to apply for authorisations every five years. Deputy Doyle outlined the ill effects in respect of race course funding which could flow from that provision.
The Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, who usually advocates bureaucratic measures, stated in a different connection some time ago, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I heartily recommend that principle to the Minister and to the Authority in respect of racecourse authorisations. By all means if the Authority deems it necessary to introduce a new requirement to upgrade safety aspects for people attending or running race meetings or for the the horses and jockeys, it would be necessary to reapply for an authorisation. However, it should not be necessary to go through the entire procedure every five years.
The Minister may argue correctly that the procedure set out in our amendment would give rise to the need for inspection, but the same applies to the procedure set out in the Bill, unless this is totally arbitrary legislation. Section 59 (3) provides that:
The Authority may where it has reasonable grounds to believe that an authorised racecourse is not complying with any term or condition of a racecourse authorisation revoke or suspend (for such period as it thinks fit) the authorisation.
I object to that provision on the grounds that it does not provide for an appeals procedure. It is entirely within the Authority's province to decide what is right and wrong and that is why our amendment provides for an appeal procedure. I object to it for another reason, namely, if we are to take that as being anything other than a purely arbitrary exercise of power by the Authority, it must have some means of finding out whether it has reasonable grounds to believe that an authorised racecourse is not complying with the terms or conditions of an authorisation. To do this it would have to appoint people to visit racecourses on a regular basis to observe the conduct at race meetings and report back to the Authority. A reasonable Minister or Authority should provide for that. If such people are appointed to attend race meetings, they should be instructed to say whether a racecourse is complying with the conditions of an authorisation and, if it is, it should not have to apply every five years for an authorisation. Section 59 (4) provides that:
An authorised racecourse (within the meaning of the Act of 1945) in existence immediately before the establishment day shall on that day be deemed to be an authorised racecourse for a period of two years.
Our amendment provides that an authorised racecourse, within the meaning of the 1945 Act, in existence immediately before the establishment day, shall continue to be an authorised racecourse unless the Authority finds it is unreasonably in breach of conditions which have been laid down. I see evidence of the Labour Party's bureaucratic bovver boots in this measure. The Minister has adopted the old principle of assuming people will not do what they should and proposes to operate the bovver boots on them every five years to make sure they are up to scratch. I propose we operate on the basis that authorised racecourses anxious about their future will wish to remain authorised and that we should not interfere with them unreasonably unless it can be proven they are not doing their job properly. We should operate on the basis that if something is set up and properly run it will continue to be properly run rather than on the suspicious bureaucratic basis that if we do not harry them they will not do their job properly.
The Minister should reflect on this matter. It would not cost any more to run the industry in the manner suggested in our amendment and it would probably cost him and the Authority less effort and money. It would certainly be much easier on the nerves of members of executives of authorised racecourses because it would relieve them of tedious bureaucracy once every five years; they have plenty of other things about which to be concerned. The amendment provides for the modernisation and updating of racecourses in a similar, but less heavy handed, manner to that provided for in the Bill.
The Minister will probably give us some palaver about not being able to accept the amendment for various reasons. What he will actually be saying is that because this bureaucratic heavy handedness was put down on paper, he is committed to it and because we did not have an adequate debate on the matter on Committee Stage, he will not change his mind at this late stage. That is nonsense. The Minister has had a couple of weeks to consider the amendment. I would be disappointed, but not surprised, if a Minister who is a member of a party that claims — sometimes with justification, although it has been overtaken recently in this regard — to be the most pragmatic in Irish politics, would not operate in a useful and constructive manner on this matter rather than the way the Minister's partners in Government have operated. Our amendment will achieve the result the Minister wants to achieve without requiring people to go through the hassle of reapplying for authorisations every five years and without satisfying the bureaucratic lusts of the Labour Party. The measure provided for in our amendment is a much better way of dealing with this matter than that provided for in the Bill.
Amendment No. 33 would require the Authority to publish a statement of the minimum services and facilities that would be necessary for authorisation of a racecourse. The Authority could then add specific conditions in respect of particular racecourses and modify the published or specific requirements. Those would be overly elaborate provisions to detail in legislation before the Authority has even considered what would be required for racecourses in the future. In any event it would be difficult to detail meaningful general conditions for racecourses. I am sure conditions would vary, depending on the type of racecourse planned, the frequency of race meetings, the type of facilities that would be suitable, the type of client one would expect in particular parts of the country and the other sporting activities in the locality with which racing would have to compete.
The amendment also suggests that the Authority may not unreasonably refuse to grant an authorisation, and that goes without saying. Neither should there be a need for the proposed appeal to a court of competent jurisdiction against the refusal of an authorisation. The provision in the Bill obliges the Authority to grant an authorisation to racecourses that satisfy the necessary requirements. If in those circumstances a racecourse believes it is treated unfairly it will have the normal recourse to a legal remedy without providing for special rights in this Bill. The amendment also envisages open ended authorisations unless a racecourse ceases to comply with published or specific requirements. Two or more suspensions for this reason would lead to a revocation of the authorisation. I do not see the need for this elaborate system, but in the current climate where spectators and racegoers are looking for better facilities and the needs of horse owners and trainers are changing, there is a need to review every racecourse at least every five years.
Mallow will be the first to be closed.
It should be incumbent on the Authority and the racecourses to exercise that measure every five years.
Whoever wrote that note for the Minister must have had his tongue firmly in his cheek.
The Minister, without interruption.
The Minister should compare the note with what is provided in the Bill.
May I move amendment No. 34?
The Deputy can refer to amendment No. 34, but we have to take a decision on amendment No. 33 first and we will then decide if amendment No. 34 can be moved.
In other words, if we are successful with our amendment the Deputy cannot move his and we all know the chances of that.
I do. The point of amendment No. 33 in the names of Deputies Doyle and Dukes is to take some of the relative arbitrariness and uncertainty out of the authorisation of racecourses. It is a complicated way of doing it. I am not sure if it is the best way and if it is better than what is in place. A simpler approach is the one I have taken in amendment No. 34, which simply substitutes a period of ten years for a period of five years for a length of an authorisation once granted. That is perfectly reasonable because an authorisation for a short period, such as five years, will make it extremely difficult, particularly for some of the smaller and less fashionable racecourses, to borrow money from a bank or another institution to do necessary work because the bank or other institution may take the view that in a few years' time the racecourse may lose its authorisation. Uncertainty should not be created for the owners or executives of racecourses in this way. This is particularly true if this Authority, like its predecessor, the Racing Board, will continue to invest on its behalf in racecourses.
There is much disquiet in Munster because of what is happening or is sought to happen in respect of a particular racecourse. The Minister had grandiose plans for it but they appear to have gone askew in some fashion.
This is the third time it has been purchased or sold. At every election it is sold again.
It seems to have gone askew and maybe it will get another rattle in 1999, but in the meantime it creates a difficult position for companies who own other courses because the owners of such courses do not know where they stand. The purchase of racecourses by the Racing Board has been at best a mixed success. It has not been great in at least one case of which I know and I do not think it has contributed anything to that particular course.
From now on there will be a conflict of interest between courses owned by the Authority and those which are not owned by it. The position of racecourses should be clarified beyond doubt and they should not be put in the position where they will constantly be under pressure. In particular, it should not be perceived that the people who make decisions about authorisation are also those who own a number of courses on which the greatest amount of money has been spent. That is wrong. The Bill and, in particular, this section should reflect the undesirability of the controller or the regulator also being an owner and a commercial operator. There is bound to be a conflict of interest. Even where it does not exist in reality, in some instances it will be perceived to exist. As a matter of principle it is wrong that a regulator should also be a commercial competitor of the people whom it licenses or regulates. That principle is fundamentally wrong and it should not be enshrined in legislation. The authorisation of racecourses should be granted by an independent group if the Authority is a commercial operator.
It would be fairly outrageous if a particular group of bookmakers were to decide who could have bookmakers' licences and who should be allowed to compete with them. The principle, if it applied in that way, would be regarded as wrong. It would be wrong for a small group of trainers to decide who was entitled to a trainers' licence. The argument could be extended to any field.
We are being asked to accept a principle that the commercial competitors are also the authorisers and regulators, and that is wrong. If we are stuck with that position the least the Minister should do is remove some of the uncertainty from the privately owned courses by extending their authorisation to ten years. If he does not do that, some of the owners of the smaller courses will experience constant tension, friction and great difficulty in trying to raise money for repairs, development, extension or improvement works to buildings and tracks.
There will be pressure from a section within the Authority, the tote levy collecting section, to consider the closure of some of the smaller courses because they are losing money, which undoubtedly they are. The Racing Board is losing money because of the extraordinarily inefficient, old-fashioned and over-staffed way it runs the tote. It need not lose money if it ran it properly, but because it is losing money on many of the smaller courses it may suggest to its board that the Authority would be more profitable and would have more funds at its disposal if it did not have to provide a tote at some of the smaller racecourses and, therefore, it should close them. That is wrong and the regulator should not make such a decision and should not be open to such a suggestion from within the Authority.
If the Minister seriously wants to grapple with the difficulties I outlined, particularly with the unfairness of the regulator also being a commercial competitor, he should accept my amendment to give some limited security of tenure to those who operate racecourses and want to borrow or raise money to improve them.
I speak to both the amendments, that in my name and in the name of Deputy O'Malley. If this section of the Bill is left unamended the new Authority will have its integrity further compromised as has been ably expressed by Deputy O'Malley. Given the handicaps the Authority is starting with because of the ten political appointments out of 14, if this Authority is to perform the function for Irish racing and the racing industry that we would all like it to perform, we must ensure that the legislation will not further compromise its integrity.
I cannot see how the Authority can be seen to act fairly and impartially if it is also an operator of racecourses and has the final say over its competitors as to whether they are authorised. It will not be seen to operate fairly and, in terms of the integrity of any board or body, it is as important that it is seen to be fair and impartial as it is to be fair and impartial. Often people are fair and impartial but are perceived not to be, and the perception does as much damage as the reality might. If this Authority is to be seen to be fair and impartial, apart altogether from operating fairly and impartially — and it is questionable that it can, given the conflict of interests that arises under this section — the Minister must accept amendments to this section.
I would prefer an open-ended authorisation of racecourses provided they meet the criteria, terms and conditions laid down by the Authority. I see no reason to jeopardise the future of any racecourse unless it fails to meet minimum standards laid down by the Authority. I see no reason to put their ability to raise finance from financial institutions or any sector at risk because their authorisation is due to run out, say, in two years and they are unsure of their future after that. We need an appeals system in this section and we referred to that in our amendment. Above all we must not tie racecourses to five year authorisations, particularly while the same Authority which now owns three racecourses, but could own more, controls the funding released to different racecourses, controls race fixtures and race programming so, effectively, controls the future viability of all the smaller racecourses.
There are five or six sections in this Bill that would allow the Authority to operate an agenda of streamlining the number of racecourses in the country perhaps because, as Deputy O'Malley suggested, the tote is unprofitable and it does not pay to cross the Shannon or to go down south or to other areas to the smaller meetings. The Authority could decide, if they are not profitable when it comes to tote returns, to use the powers it has to rationalise the number of racecourses. That is unacceptable when the Authority can be judge and jury over direct competitors, racecourses not owned by it.
The Minister refused to accept an overall governing clause for due care and consideration in relation to fairness and impartiality in the operation of this Authority in all aspects. In the absence of an amendment to ensure fair and impartial operation of this Authority, we must ensure that each section is seen to be fair and impartial and the section as outlined in the Bill, if unamended, underlines a major conflict of interest in relation to the Authority's functions.
Amendment No. 34 cannot now be moved.
Why not? They were debated together but the rules of debate say that they will be decided separately.
The words in the Bill have been deemed to stand. That is the reason amendment No. 34 cannot be moved.
That is most unsatisfactory.
But not surprising.
This is most unsatisfactory. The amendments are separate. People might well feel like supporting one but not the other. The normal practice in this House when more than one amendment is being debated on Committee or Report Stage is that they can be debated together but decided separately. If the Chair is using the form in which he put the question on amendment No. 33 to prevent a decision on amendment No. 34——
In fact the Minister might accept amendment No. 34 while rejecting amendment No. 33.
I am advised that this is a long-standing practice. All the words in that section stand in accordance with what has just been decided as a result of the debate on both amendments.
What was decided on amendment No. 33 was not to delete lines 1 to 21 on page 33.
That is correct.
I did not ask that lines 1 to 21 be deleted. I only asked that one figure be changed.
It was decided that the words proposed to be deleted stand.
I did not ask for lines 1 to 21 to be deleted.
I am advised that amendment No. 33 did ask that the words proposed to be deleted stand, that that amendment is the wider amendment and that being negatived, amendment No. 34 cannot be moved. That has to be the ruling.
That is unfortunate and it certainly seems to conflict with the procedure on many other occasions when amendments were taken together for ease of discussion. If by negativing the first amendment all the others cannot then be moved it means Deputies would be well advised never to agree to a grouping of amendments because then they will never be allowed to have their amendments decided.
The Chair has given its explanation. Any further issue from the Chair would be duplication and repetition. I want to move on now.
To solve the difficulty will the Minister accept amendment No. 34 which is common sense and there is no reason whatever for not accepting it.
I cannot call the Minister at this point.
The Chair may not be able to call him but perhaps the Minister might like to volunteer.
I hope, Sir, that I can be helpful. In terms of the decision the Chair has just given — and I do not want to be contentious because it is in keeping with the practice of the House — I suggest that when preparing amendments in the future the Ceann Comhairle's office would, in a case like this, put the narrow amendment before the wider one because it seems, if I may say this without causing any argument, that if we had debated Deputy O'Malley's amendment first the wider amendment would have been perfectly in order since it had a wider effect. That procedure might help to avoid disputes of this kind in the future.
That proposal from Deputy Dukes has been noted and will be considered.
On a point of order, I would point out that the consequence of your ruling is such that any amendment put down by a Member of the Opposition can be circumvented by a friendly Government backbencher putting down a more extensive amendment and having it debated with it, thereby preventing the question being decided by the House. That is an abuse of the procedures of the House and it should not be allowed happen.
The Deputy should not be putting bad thoughts into our heads.
The Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle should think through the consequence of the decision given. With all due respect, I submit that it is wrong, it is open to serious abuse and it prevents this House from operating in the way it should. It should be possible for a Member to table an amendment and to have the House decide it or divide on it if it so chooses. That is not being allowed.
The Deputy has made his point. The ruling I have given is not new; it is based on long-standing practice and precedent. What has been said has been noted and will be considered.
I move amendment No. 36:
In page 34, line 24, after "may" to insert ", with the assistance of a member of the Garda Síochána if it considers it necessary,".
I move amendment No. 38:
In page 34, line 25, before "force" to insert "reasonable".
I move amendment No. 39:
In page 35, to delete lines 5 to 54 and in page 36, to delete lines 1 to 12.
This amendment seeks to amend the Betting Act to allow the new horseracing authority to take out a bookmaker's licence. We have rehearsed our arguments against extending this function to the new racing authority. I see no good reason to extend the functions of the racing authority to allow it become involved in the bookmaking business in direct competition with the private sector. There is no good reason for the State to act as a bookmaker. If the experience of the Authority in operating the tote is anything to go by I would not consider, until it has had many years of successful operation of the tote, extending to it the function of bookmaker.
I ask the Minister, even at this late stage, to review the extension of the function to the Authority. We spent some time on this matter this morning and yesterday on Committee Stage, but I have not yet heard one good reason from the Minister for the extension of this function to the Authority. The Moriarty Committee made this recommendation because certain components of the industry indicated that this function should be given to the Authority. The Minister indicated that it could be 50 years before we amend this legislation again and that this is a "just in case" provision. I ask him to delete this provision because it makes no sense.
There are many amendments needed to the Betting Act and while the Minister is amending that Act in this regard — I know Deputy Power will agree with me — he is not introducing amendments to allow for betting shops to remain open for evening meetings and on Sundays to cater for punters' needs. The Minister is introducing an amendment to the Betting Act to facilitate the pals on the Authority in the event that they may wish to get into the bookmaking business. The fact that he is introducing an amendment to the bookmakers Act, without introducing the necessary amendments required, is a frustration and a further indication of the huge missed opportunity that this legislation is.
I support Deputy Doyle in that to go into opposition with the bookmakers would be madness. The State has no function in that area. Does the Minister know of any country where organised racing is held where the State is in competition with the bookies? I wish to bring to the Minister's attention, as I brought to the attention of the Minister for Finance, the ludicrous position that pertains at present whereby Sky Television transmits two meetings per evening, three evenings a week, and there is a bar stool bookie in every pub where that channel is available. Revenue is losing a huge amount of money by this practice, yet the mandarins in the various Departments have turned a blind eye to that fact.
It is inevitable that racing on Sunday will come into full swing in England in the coming years. It is highly likely that before the end of the century the Epsom Derby, and probably all other major races, including the Grand National, will be run on Sunday. In those circumstances will the bookies remain closed here or will they open? I believe they will open even if we do not legislate for that — some are open for evening racing at present. The Minister should liaise with the Minister for Justice and accept the reality that racing in England is more attractive to the average punter than racing in Ireland.
Last Wednesday evening there were fewer people at Leopardstown races than would attend a flapper meeting in west Cork. The Minister should home in on this area and get money for the State. As Deputy Dukes knows, I am deeply concerned about this matter — it would grieve me enormously to know that Revenue is losing money to illegal gambling. The Minister, the Department and the Minister for Finance must come to terms with the inevitability of largescale racing on Sunday in England, with possibly four to five meetings being held on that day. To create yet another tier of bureaucracy and involve the State in opposition to bookmakers is ludicrous. There is no such facility in any country I know, except perhaps in the Middle East.
The Betting Act restricts the issue of bookmakers licences to individuals. It does not allow a licence to be issued to a body corporate — a company. An individual applying for a licence must get a certificate of fitness from the local Garda superintendent. These provisions would not be appropriate to a State body.
It is unlikely the Authority will get a certificate of fitness by the time the Minister is finished appointing his pals to it.
Did the Deputy get her fitness certificate?
I am sure Deputy Power is fighting fit and had no difficulty getting a certificate of fitness from the local Garda superintendent.
As sections 35 and 36 envisage a company of the Authority possibly in the future, and with the consent of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Minister for Finance, holding a bookmakers licence, the Betting Act, 1931, needs to be amended to allow for that eventuality. Subsections (1) and (2) provide for that. Subsection (3) of section 64 excludes betting offices at racecourses, which are envisaged in section 53 of this Bill, from the register of high street premises kept by the Revenue Commissioners as the revenue from these offices will go entirely to the Authority. As the racecourses and on-course bookmakers will be regulated by the Authority it is appropriate that on-course betting offices should also be regulated by them. Section 35 allows a subsidiary of the Authority to hold and operate a bookmaker's licence. If that section, which is opposed by Deputies Doyle, Dukes and O'Malley, is left unchanged, this section, which provides for the consequential amendment of the Betting Act, 1931 to allow for the issue of the licence, must also stand. I oppose this amendment.
It is verging on the provocative for the Minister to introduce this amendment to the Betting Act when the need to amend other provisions of that Act has been obvious for a long time. If the Minister was interested in the punter he would have amended the Betting Act to ensure that High Street betting shops would remain open in the evening and on Sundays. We must underline that point because we are out of step with consumer requirements. The fact that the Minister could introduce an amendment to the Betting Act in this Bill to allow his pals on the Authority to run bookie shops and yet would not attack the aspects of the Betting Act that need revision speaks volumes.
I tabled this amendment because I felt so strongly about the extension of provisions to this Authority to act as bookmakers. I urge the Minister to see the light even at this late stage. Between now and the passage of the Bill through Seanad Éireann will the Minister please delete or amend the relevant sections for this "just in case" provision that he has spoken about?
We now come to amendment No. 40 in the name of the Minister. It is observed that amendment No. 41 is identical and that amendments Nos. 44 to 49, inclusive, and Nos. 51, 53, 53a and 56 are related. Amendments Nos. 50 and 52 are consequential on amendment No. 45.
Sir, did I understand you correctly—did you say that amendments Nos. 40 and 41 are identical?
They are not, Sir. Amendment No. 40 proposes the substitution of "14" for "13" and amendment No. 41 proposed the substitution of "15" for "13". They are very different amendments.
Amendment No. 40 is on the white list.
There are two amendments No. 40.
There is a white list being passed to Deputies Dukes and O'Malley.
I am delighted to have the white list now. The ministerial amendment on the white list is identical to Deputy Doyle's amendment on the original sheet. I would like it noted that the Minister is accepting Deputy Doyle's amendment but he does not want to come in here and say so. Therefore he tables a different amendment and circulates it on the white list and then comes in here and sits grinning like a Cheshire Cat because he does not have to say he accepts the Oppositions's amendment. That is sharp practice and the Minister should be rapped on the knuckles for a nasty little ploy like this.
It is suggested that amendments No. 40 to 49, inclusive, and Nos. 50, 51, 52, 53, 53a and 56 be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I move amendment No. 40:
In page 39, line 34, to delete "13" and substitute "15".
This is an extremely important provision of the Bill. The question of membership of a new authority has been repeatedly raised. I fully understand the desire of the various interest groups to be presented on the Authority. I want to carefully ensure that we end up with a balanced authority and I am concerned with equity, as I mentioned on several occasions, between various interests in the industry. Taking account of the contributions made by various Members on the question of membership, I have decided to increase the number of members from 14 to 16.
What is important is the quality of the membership and I believe that we will put in place a high quality authority well capable of giving a strong lead to the industry. The second important element is how the Authority works. It is critical that members see themselves not primarily as sectoral representatives but as a board of directors or executive for the industry. They must work cohesively because if they do not the whole effort will be at nought. They must work together to promote and develop the industry as a whole and not individual sections of it. This is a major national task and I am confident the Authority we put in place will be capable of undertaking it successfully. In regard to representation for the racegoer, I am making provision for a representative of the oridinary racegoer. This appeal was made by every Deputy who contributed and since the initiation of this Bill I have stated that it is essential that the person who goes through the turnstiles, the racegoer, will be represented on the Authority.
I want to let the Authority get on with the job without interference. The Authority will represent the industry and it will be its responsibility to work out and implement what is best for the industry without interference. We will, of course, give all the assistance necessary to ensure that they can work effectively. When the Northern Ireland representative is taken out I will be left with two appointments to make with which to try to achieve a gender and geographical balance as well as the general balance of interests in the industry, the balance between national hunt and flat racing — a point repeatedly made by Deputy McGahon.
I cannot accept these amendments although I accept in principle that the racegoers must be represented but not necessarily by the same organisation. Therefore, I am not prepared to have any specific organisation named in the Act as by their nature the majority of racegoers do not belong to any organisation. I am also proposing an additional place on the Authority specifically to reflect the interests of the national hunt side of the industry, which is an extremely important sector. Deputy McGahon made the point that there were fewer people at a recent race meeting than there would be at a flapper meeting in west Cork. In fact some of those meetings in west Cork are extremely well attended, the reason being they are national hunt fixtures. Strong representations have been made to me that the national hunt should get a special place.
My other amendments to this Schedule are technical amendments necessitated by the increase in the board membership. Amendments Nos. 49 and 51 propose direct nominations from the representative bodies with the simple condition that those with two nominations shall make, as far as possible, at least one female nomination. This will involve a maximum of three female nominations. I would not be able to achieve the other balances, either geographical or the interests in the industry, by this system. Under this system the Authority could be very much weighted with members from one part of the country, leaving other regions feeling justifiably isolated. It is critical that all sectors within the industry are encouraged to work together for its overall betterment. The best way to achieve this is through the composition of the new Authority. We cannot leave this to chance; it is vitally important that we have an Authority that represents all sectors of the industry.
Each of these significant organisations has put forward the names of three people in whom they could have confidence. This allows me the opportunity to put in place a well balanced authority from every perspective. I therefore propose amendments Nos. 40, 45, 50, 52, 53, 53a and 56 and I oppose amendments Nos. 41, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 51.
We have spent many hours and many days debating this legislation to establish a new Irish Racing Authority. It would appear that the Minister had a dream some time ago of ensuring a golden future for an industry much beloved at least by the few of us who have taken part in debating this Bill, and perhaps by many more in this House and outside it. Unfortunately, the Minister is falling at the last hurdle and his dream becomes a nightmare when one considers the procedures he is putting in place for nominating persons to this new Authority.
I have been consistent in my opposition to the structures the Minister is putting in place in this Schedule for setting up the Authority. I did not get the opportunity to deal with it on Committee Stage because the guillotine fell yesterday before we reached this section. I am a little confused by the Minister's reference to 16 when he talks about the Authority. I presume he is referring to 15 ordinary members and a chairman. I thank my colleague, Deputy Dukes, for pointing out the Minister's lack of grace — which I did not expect of him — in failing to accept my amendment No. 41 which is identical to the Minister's new amendment No. 40. There is not even a comma out of place. My amendment was tabled all through Committee Stage and retabled for Report Stage. The Minister could have come into this House and told me he was accepting my amendment to increase the number of members on the Authority from 13 to 15. We would have welcomed that as a sign of his willingness to accept the consistent points we have made for a long time. Instead of accepting my amendment, which is identical to the Minister's, he tabled another amendment, No. 40, without any reference to the fact that his amendment is exactly what we have been asking of him, privately and on the floor of the House, to increase the representation on the Authority to 16. Apart from the increased representation and the extension of representative interests that it will bring to the board, 15 is a critical number in terms of voting strategy and strengths on the Authority and I sincerely welcome it. I thank him for taking on board my amendment which perhaps is the most important we have tabled on this side of the House.
I fully support the inclusion of the representation of national hunt interests,. I hope I am right in thanking the Minister for amendment No. 45 which will include on the Authority one representative of racegoers nominated for appointment thereto by such persons as the Minister considers to be representative of racegoers. I regret the Minister did not see fit to state "nominated by the Racing Club of Ireland" which, to my knowledge is the only national racing club. There are local racing clubs structured around racecourses but it is the only national representation of racegoers. I would have liked the Minister to recognise the Racing Club of Ireland specifically.
I am a little concerned that the Minister might be facemaking in this regard, that the man whom we all know he had in mind to nominate as one of the four will be nominated anyway under the aegis of this so-called amendment, rather than accept the nomination from the Racing Club of Ireland. I will have to accept in good faith the Minister's intention on this because he has stated that the representative of racegoers will be nominated by "persons"— I do not know what person the Minister will listen to in terms of accepting nominations to represent racegoers. If there is no body to which the Minister can refer, it is not very transparent. I would have liked the RCI to be named there but the Minister is at least accepting the point we are making, that racegoers per se should be represented. I am asking him to nominate the Racing Club of Ireland to represent them. The Minister has come a little of the way, however, and he obviously listened to some of our comments.
One major problem the Minister has not accepted is in relation to the substance of amendment No. 49. I am asking that the people to be appointed under paragraph (1) (d), (f), (g), (h), (i) and now (j), the national hunt interest, should be the nominations submitted to the Minister by the representative interest concerned. If this new Authority is to have integrity, if it is to be seen to be removed from the political process, from any Minister and from any political party, the Minister must ensure that the vast majority of its members are the nominations of the representative interests concerned. I reject the Minister's contention that lists of at least three must be submitted from the component parts of the industry so that he can handpick those whom the Minister decides are more acceptable on this Authority.
I ask the Minister to ensure the integrity of this Authority so that it is seen to be the governing body of Irish racing, removed from any political interference and whose only interest is the future development and success of Irish racing. I ask him to look again at the nomination procedure and to accept the person nominated by the different interest groups and not request a list of at least three — in some cases the Minister has asked for four. This is a sticking point with us and we feel the Minister is destroying the potential of this authority to ensure a healthy and vibrant future for our horseracing industry so beloved by many in this country. The Minister is falling at this hurdle and more in sorrow than in anger I request him to look at this provision again and accept the amendment and the nomination of the component part, good, bad or indifferent. If the nomination does not work out to be a success, it is for the different component parts of the industry to ensure that that person is replaced or that someone is nominated who will have regard to the particular interest of the component part, and all of Irish racing, when taking their seat on this new Authority.
I requested that the Minister increase the representation of owners from one to two. If we do not encourage more owners into the industry, look after their interests and ensure there is a service for them there will be no racing. Without racing there is no need for racecourses, bookmakers or the Authority. The owner and breeder pay the piper, they pay trainers and jockeys and keep the industry afloat. The Minister should increase their representation. The owners are pivotal to a successful industry but they have not been getting a return for their investment and fewer people are becoming involved in the industry. Prize money has increased but it has a long way to go before it will reward owners for their investment.
The Minister will not accept amendment No. 49 but it is critical to ensure the new Authority will have integrity and be seen to operate purely in the best interests of Irish racing. It should not be composed of 11 members selected by the Minister out of a total of 15 and he should accede to our request. I thank him for increasing the number from 13 to 15 and for accepting amendment No. 41 even if he chose to replace it by his own and call it amendment No. 40. It shows a little lack of grace at which I am surprised as it is not expected of the Minister.
I agree with Deputy Doyle. I congratulate the Minister on taking her advice and increasing the membership of the board. In racing terminology that would be known as taking my ground. She can justifiably claim that the Minister did that.
A fair bit of bumping went on before that so perhaps we should have a stewards' inquiry.
I regret that the Minister will not nominate a member of the Racing Club of Ireland. It is a responsible club which has made an impact on Irish racing since its formation in 1982 and this has been recognised by the racing authorities. I have a list of recommendations from almost everyone involved in the racing industry and it is regrettable that such a responsible body has been ignored. I never met Kevin Smith who has been involved in the promotion of this club which has benefited Irish racing here and in the North where for four years they sponsored a maiden hurdle.
One of their objectives is to bring a breath of fresh air to an industry which has not been very open. Potential customers must be aware of the use to which their money is put in the industry and have pride in a world class product.
I am more concerned about the horse racing industry than engaging in nit-picking and scoring political points but the Minister's refusal to accept nominated persons from the various components of the industry is regrettable. The fact that the Minister will select the members will be seen as meddling in the industry. No Minister or civil servant should have that power. It is a specialised industry and it should be left to the professionals as far as possible. The prospect of a Minister selecting members is wrong and will not be welcomed by the industry.
For an industry which contributes so much to the economy it is regrettable that only six Deputies are present for this debate. On occasion there have been fewer than that. This is an important Bill and there was a long delay before it was brought before us. It is also regrettable that members of the racing industry are conspicuous by their absence from the public gallery, with the notable exception of Jonathan Irwin and Mr. Lambe. Where are the chairman, the stewards of the Irish Turf Club and the big wigs of the racing board?
Are they so uninterested? I know Cahir O'Sullivan was present previously but perhaps he is out of the country. It is astonishing that the people for whom the Bill contains serious implications have not been present for this debate. Is it due to complacency, disinterest or a knowledge that the asides they may have made to the Minister or other Members of his party will be implemented in the Bill? I am disillusioned by that. We have not heard the losses of the racing board.
The Deputy is straying from the amendment under discussion. He has had some latitude but we are not on Second Stage.
Is it true that losses of £2 million were incurred last year? If so, why should those responsible for it be left in positions of authority? Would that happen in the private sector or to the manager of a football team? It is essential for the Minister to accede to the request by Deputy Doyle that specialised people who know what racing is about be appointed and that sectional interests have the right to nominate a person, rather than political hacks.
I support the case made by Deputy Doyle. It is disappointing that the Minister when looking for representatives of race goers now seems to intend to ask unspecified individuals rather than the Racing Club of Ireland. It is the only group that represents racegoers and, by so doing, have demonstrated their commitment to the industry. They are a companionable and well versed body of men and women who have distinguished themselves by setting up an organisation. They have a substantial annual programme of activities which included a function held in my constituency, though that has nothing to do with it.
If the Minister needs any further recommendation for the Racing Club of Ireland he should ask the Taoiseach. As Minister for Finance the Taoiseach had the honour of joining people like Lester Piggott and myself among a list of others honoured by the club. If the Minister needs any further indication of the discernment, judgment and good taste of the Racing Club of Ireland than that I do not know what it could be.
A substantial number of people went to the trouble of setting up an organisation to represent the interests of racegoers. The Minister will get the most reliable advice one could get about the interests of racegoers from the members of that organisation; he will certainly get better and more credible advice from those people than from some person, no matter how distinguished he or she may be, who is plucked out of nowhere as far as the rest of us are concerned after consultation with unnamed individuals.
In this Bill the Minister seems to be hell bent on doing everything the hard and bureaucratic way except when it comes to selecting the members of the Authority which he wants to do in a very private, potentially underhanded and rather excessively political way. He could do a favour for the industry and ensure clarity by taking this extra bit of advice over and above the advice he has taken from Deputy Doyle but which he does not wish to acknowledge.
Does the debate conclude at 6.45 p.m.?
That is correct.
We are dealing with one of the most important Parts of the Bill and it is a pity more time is not available to debate it. I spoke on Second Stage but, unfortunately, I have not been able to contribute to the debates since due to circumstances utterly outside my control. I am sorry I did not have the opportunity to contribute earlier.
It is a matter of regret that a Bill which should have the enthusiastic support of everybody does not have that support. The Bill is patently defective and the principal reason for this is that it has the hand of the Minister and the State all over it. Instead of doing as in other countries where the State, the Minister and Government stand back and let the people who understand the industry run it in the general interests of the industry and everyone in it, the Minister has to have his finger in every pie. While I welcome the Minister's minor concession to appoint two more people representative of racegoers and national hunt interests, any board of 16 members is much too big. The Minister got into trouble by starting off from the premise that everyone on the board had to be representative of something. I have plenty of experience of boards — much more experience than the Minister — and I know that if a board is appointed where all the members are seen as representative of a particular interest then we will not have a successful board or industry. The internal friction between the various competing interests on such boards is such that most of the members fail to take an overall view of the industry. That is regrettable.
Deputy Doyle correctly stated that we are stuck with a very large board, all the members of which are representative of one interest or another, and if these members are going to be representative of various interests they should be nominated by the bodies concerned. If the Minister does not accept that suggestion he will be making it abundantly clear to the House, the public and the industry that he wants to have the opportunity to put his stamp on everything. It is part of the awful mentality in certain parts of public life that everything that happens must happen because Fianna Fáil made it happen, allowed it to happen etc. This is a childish mentality and I hoped some people would have grown out of adopting that kind of approach by now. It is sad that things have not worked out that way.
The Minister will be involved in the appointments and three names must be put forward by each of the groups of bodies.
At least three names.
No self-respecting person would allow his name to be put forward in those circumstances because he knows prefectly well that even if he is the most competent and qualified person for the job he will not be appointed if he is not a cumann secretary or wellknown to the party concerned.
That is ridiculous.
If it is ridiculous then why will the Minister not accept Deputy Doyle's amendment?
Because there is no agreement on that side of the House either.
Yes, there is. I am the spokesperson for my party and my colleagues agree with me.
Deputy O'Malley to continue without interruption from any side of the House. There are but ten minutes left.
If a particular group of people has the right to nominate someone then it should nominate somebody and not three, four or more people for the consideration of the Minister who will pick the one he believes is most suitable. This is to show the depth of the Minister's involvement, which really is a dead hand. There are two provisions in the Schedule under which he can fire people without any reason. I have tabled amendments on this — I do not know if they are in this group——
They are in the next group.
The Minister can arbitrarily fire either the chairman or any ordinary member of the board at any time without giving any reason. That is totally unreasonable.
It is draconian.
Why does he want to be involved on a day-to-day basis with all of these people in this way, to sit on them all the time? Why will he not let the industry regulate itself as is done successfully in other countries? Why does the State have to be involved in everything, including bookmaking?
We are debating a long awaited Bill on an industry in which Ireland could easily lead the world. I read the Bill with disappointment and other Deputies — due to my circumstances in recent months I could not do this — have debated it at length and sought to make common sense changes which would have avoided the obvious errors which have been made. Some of the people who have done their best for this industry have expressed their profound disappointment at the Bill. I am referring to the Turf Club and people like Lord Killanin who presided over the commission which made very worthwhile recommendations which have been ignored. This is a great tragedy.
The Bill will shortly be enacted without the support or enthusiasm of many people who wish only well to the horseracing industry and the multifarious activities which are connected with it.
I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy, but there are only seven minutes left and two Deputies are offering. The Deputy may wish to help me in facilitating them.
I will. While major changes are being made in the Authority, the Minister will have power to intervene etc., apparently there will be a total transfer of the assests and of everybody else in the Racing Board.
Including the chairman.
The present Racing Board is a walking disaster. It is the only State betting monopoly in the world which can and does lose large sums of money every year. If it was a private company those in charge of it would be fired, but under statute, they are guaranteed for life. Is that not a guarantee for disaster?
There are only five minutes left and two Deputies are offering. I will call Deputy McManus first and perhaps she will assist me in facilitating Deputy Power.
I have not taken up too much time so far. I welcome the Minister's decision to allow one representative of racegoers to be appointed to the Authority, one-sixteenth of the membership. That is very small beer indeed. It is a pity the Minister was not somewhat more adventurous. Since I have been a Member of this House, which is not very long, I have been amazed at the myopia of the Department of Agriculture when it comes to the overall concept of the consumer. This is an industry like any other and, at the end of the day, the consumer is central to its future; without the racegoer or punter there would not be any racing industry. It is extraordinary that it requires amendments from the Opposition to force the Minister grudgingly to change the Bill in order to ease in one non-specified representative of racegoers. There is a very begrudging attitude on the part of the Department with regard to this idea. It is self-defeating because if we do not take on board consumers' needs and views they will go elsewhere.
Life is full of temptations and of alternative ways of enjoying oneself. The fact that a consumer representative was not included in the original Authority but required an amendment forced on the Minister by the Opposition is an indication of a backward-looking Department that has not really moved with the times. It is a pity that the Racing Club of Ireland is not named in the amendment because that afforded an opportunity to recognise its track record, to acknowledge the fact that, if it is not the Racing Club of Ireland who will nominate this representative, there is no one else organised to do so.
I support Deputy Doyle in the points she has raised on amendment No. 49 which is crucial. There is an implication in the Minister's approach that representative bodies of various groups within the industry, whether it be trainers, bookmakers or employees, are not to be trusted, that they will not bring in the safe men who will do the safe thing. That has very serious implications.
This means we are likely to end up with three nominations from different organisations. One will be head and shoulders above the two others, yet the opportunity will be missed and a second rater will be nominated by the Minister. Then one ends up with a lesser Authority. One cannot afford to have a second grade representative on an Authority which has such huge implications for the racing industry. It is not as though the racing industry is doing terribly well or is attracting a whole new generation of racegoers. That is not happening; they are remaining at home. The Minister has an obligation to ensure he gets the very best. Nobody knows who can best represent them except the organisation, the people themselves, but the Minister is insisting on holding this power to himself. I ask him at this eleventh hour to reconsider that position.
We must engage in a five furlong dash there is so little time remaining. In relation to the composition of the racing Authority the Minister was in a no win position in that he had outlined from an early stage that he hoped and wished to obtain gender and geographic balance and, in order to achieve that objective, he inserted the condition that the nominating bodies should put forward the names of three persons. The line adopted by Deputy McManus — that we might end up getting a second rate nominee — is an insult to the nominating bodies in the first place, the implication being that they would put forward such a nominee.
On Second Stage Deputy Deasy suggested to the Minister that he should nominate the entire Authority himself. The members of Bord na gCapall were all appointed by nominated bodies, and Deputy Deasy, when Minister, had to abolish that board. The argument being advanced does not withstand scrutiny. I am delighted the Minister has decided to have a consumer representative on the proposed Authority. I suppose the consumer, punter or whoever it will be might feel very much in a minority.
Deputy Power might be looked after shortly. He was one of the gang of four. His time is coming.
I hope he will be listened to as much as he should be. My concern from the outset was that this Authority would be comprised of people who would meet regularly and talk to themselves repeatedly, whereas new thinking and a new approach is what is needed. I have received correspondence from the Racing Club of Ireland and acknowledged the tremendous work they are doing for racing, particularly for the consumer. They were more anxious that a consumer would be appointed to the Authority, not necessarily a member of the Racing Club of Ireland. We must remember the racing industry has tremendous potential. I have no doubt that this new racing Authority will go a long way to realising that potential.
As it is now 6.45 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with the Order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill; that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and that the Bill is hereby passed".
- Ahern, Dermot.
- Ahern, Michael.
- Ahern, Noel.
- Aylward, Liam.
- Bell, Michael.
- Bhamjee, Moosajee.
- Bree, Declan.
- Brennan, Matt.
- Brennan, Séamus.
- Broughan, Tommy.
- Burke, Raphael P.
- Callely, Ivor.
- Costello, Joe.
- Coughlan, Mary.
- Cowen, Brian.
- Dempsey, Noel.
- de Valera, Síle.
- Ellis, John.
- Fitzgerald, Brian.
- Fitzgerald, Eithne.
- Fitzgerald, Liam.
- Flood, Chris.
- Foley, Denis.
- Haughey, Seán.
- Higgins, Michael D.
- Hilliard, Colm M.
- Howlin, Brendan.
- Jacob, Joe.
- Kavanagh, Liam.
- Kemmy, Jim.
- Kenneally, Brendan.
- Kenny, Seán.
- Killeen, Tony.
- Kirk, Séamus.
- Kitt, Michael P.
- Kitt, Tom.
- Leonard, Jimmy.
- Martin, Micheál.
- McDaid, James.
- McDowell, Derek.
- Moffatt, Tom.
- Morley, P.J.
- Moynihan, Donal.
- Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
- Mulvihill, John.
- Nolan, M.J.
- Ó Cuív, Éamon.
- O'Dea, Willie.
- O'Donoghue, John.
- O'Hanlon, Rory.
- O'Keeffe, Batt.
- O'Leary, John.
- O'Shea, Brian.
- O'Sullivan, Toddy.
- Pattison, Séamus.
- Penrose, William.
- Power, Seán.
- Quinn, Ruairí.
- Reynolds, Albert.
- Ryan, Eoin.
- Ryan, John.
- Ryan, Seán.
- Shortall, Róisín.
- Smith, Brendan.
- Stagg, Emmet.
- Taylor, Mervyn.
- Treacy, Noel.
- Upton, Pat.
- Wallace, Dan.
- Wallace, Mary.
- Walsh, Eamon.
- Walsh, Joe.
- Ahearn, Theresa.
- Allen, Bernard.
- Barrett, Seán.
- Boylan, Andrew.
- Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
- Carey, Donal.
- Clohessy, Peadar.
- Connor, John.
- Flanagan, Charles.
- Harney, Mary.
- Hogan, Philip.
- Keogh, Helen.
- McCormack, Pádraic.
- McGahon, Brendan.
- McGinley, Dinny.
- Molloy, Robert.
- Nealon, Ted.
- Crawford, Seymour.
- Currie, Austin.
- Deasy, Austin.
- Deenihan, Jimmy.
- Doyle, Avril.
- Dukes, Alan M.
- Durkan, Bernard J.
- Finucane, Michael.
- Flaherty, Mary.
- Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
- O'Donnell, Liz.
- O'Keeffe, Jim.
- O'Malley, Desmond J.
- Owen, Nora.
- Quill, Máirín.
- Sheehan, P. J.
- Timmins, Godfrey.
- Yates, Ivan.