I move amendment No. 22:
In page 13, line 30, after "facilities" to insert "including the fixing of different fees for different circumstances and for different classes of persons and the fixing of fees for some circumstances only or for all circumstances or for some classes of persons only or for all classes of persons".
Amendments Nos. 22, 24, 25 and 26 are my amendments. Deputy de Valera tabled amendment No. 27. I was pleased to be in a position to introduce further initiatives on Committee Stage to ensure the securing of the maximum amount of real public access should any general entry charge system be contemplated by the boards of the museum, library or gallery. I introduced criteria which must be taken into account before any such scheme can be introduced. We discussed the by-laws in relation to admission charges. This amendment was in addition to that already provided, that no general entry charges can be introduced by a board unless approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas. Short of an absolute statutory prohibition this is the maximum regulatory protection that can be afforded. This recognises that if it should arise it would be a major policy issue that was worthy of consideration by the Oireachtas.
In the latest amendments, Nos. 24, 25 and 26, I am making some further technical adjustments to fine-tune the wording of the criteria provision introduced on Committee Stage. I am also providing an amendment, No. 22, to ensure that in any by-law being framed on this issue there will be the option to introduce different scales of charges. As presently worded, it could be interpreted that no such discretion was possible.
The other change to note is in amendment No. 26. This makes explicit, as I had intended by my earlier amendment and as I undertook on Committee Stage, the need to ensure a reasonable degree of access without charge for children in particular, described in the amendment as persons under the age of 18 years. Any scheme must still ensure an enhanced quality of service to the public on a sustainable basis and actively contribute to the level of appreciation of the collection concerned within the Irish public as a whole. These provisions are to ensure that the primary aims and objectives of the Bill to contribute to a widening and deepening of sensibilities in relation to the collections are adequately met.
On amendment No. 24, following the proposed deletion therein, the following amendment is required: In page 13, line 37, paragraph (a) to delete the words "enable the Board" and replace with the words "the need".
The text currently reads: "a Board shall have regard to whether the proposed bye-laws would——
(a) enable the Board to provide an enhanced service to members of the public in Ireland,".
The text, once amended, will read:" a Board shall have regard to——
(a) the need to provide an enhanced service to members of the public in Ireland,".
In the light of these comments I urge Deputy de Valera to consider withdrawing her amendment No. 27.