Competition (Amendment) Bill, 1994: Motion to Recommit.

I move:

That Dáil Eireann, pursuant to Standing Order 103 of the Standing Orders Relative to Public Business, directs that the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 1994, in whole be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House.

The reason I have tabled this motion is that the Minister has tabled for Report Stage many amendments which alter the shape, content and thrust of the Bill to a much greater degree than we had anticipated. He has also failed, within those amendments, to address many of the issues he said he would address when we discussed the Committee Stage of the Bill in January. Mindful of the fact that one can speak only once on Report Stage, unlike Committee Stage when one may speak several times, it is not right that so many amendments have been tabled.

My aim is to have the Bill recommitted to a Committee of the whole House. In April there was a worthwhile seminar, which was addressed by many eminent people who were of one mind that it was flawed legislation. Many comments were made about the unenforceability of its measures which, in some instances, were considered draconian and, in others, far too lenient. It is universally regarded as bad legislation.

The Minister is noted for his diligence and commitment to a close scrutiny of matters within his brief for which I commend him, but this legislation will not stand him in good stead among the business community not just in Dublin but throughout the country. It will not achieve what it sets out to do. It started off as bad legislation in Deputy Quinn's day, but is now worse. I ask the Minister, therefore, to agreed to the motion under which it would be recommitted or, alternatively, allow the review committee which will be set up to give its findings.

This is extremely complex legislation. I have taken careful note of the criticisms levelled at it on Committee Stage and taken steps in the amendments I have tabled for Report Stage to allay the concerns expressed about expert evidence, the presumption of guilt and the uncertainty surrounding warrants of appointment of officers.

I have taken considerable time to see how the Bill can be made enforceable and considered the arguments advanced against it. I am satisfied that it is robust legislation which is not in any way flawed, although I admit that it is complex and that we are breaking new ground in creating criminal offences in this area.

The Bill will place competition law in its rightful place. It will allow third party complaints to be dealt with by the Competition Authority. In extreme cases they may be dealt with not only under the civil law, but under the criminal law. I cannot accept that we did not debate all the issues thoroughly on Committee Stage.

At least seven of the amendments are technical. I am aware that the Bill will be recommitted in respect of some of them. This will allow us to have a more interactive debate on specific amendments which, as the Bills Office recognises, need that style of debate. I cannot agree, therefore, to the motion under which the Bill would be recommitted. The way in which the House has arranged its business will ensure that Deputies will have a full and adequate opportunity to deal with issues of concern.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 56; Níl, 70.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Hughes, Séamus.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Moffatt, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Ahern, Theresa.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Barry, Peter.
  • Bell, Micheal.
  • Bhamjee, Moosajee.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Bhreathnach, Niamh.
  • Bree, Declan.
  • Broughan, Tommy.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Hugh.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowley, Frank.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Avril.
  • Dukes, Alan M.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Fitzgerald, Brian.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gallagher, Pat (Laoighis-Offally).
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McDowell, Derek.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Today.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, John.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Taylor, Mervyn.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Walsh, Eamon.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies D. Ahern and Callely; Níl, Deputies J. Higgins and B. Fitzgerald.
Question declared lost.