Written Answers. - Departmental Bodies.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

311 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the committees, boards, companies or other bodies under the auspices of her Department which were established pursuant to statutory instrument; if she will give details of the statutory instrument in each case; if there are any proposals to have the body in question given a basis in statute as opposed to statutory instrument; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19663/00]

I have not established any commit tees, boards, companies or other bodies under the auspices of my Department pursuant to statutory instrument.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

312 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the committees, boards, companies or other bodies under the auspices of her Department which were established otherwise than pursuant to statute or statutory instrument; if there are any proposals to have the body in question given a statutory basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19678/00]

The Irish Energy Centre, IEC, was established by a memorandum of understanding entered into between the Department of Public Enterprise – formerly the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications – and Enterprise Ireland – formerly Forbairt – which came into effect in January 1995. The Government, at its meeting of 5 May 1998, decided to set up the IEC as an independent body, under the auspices of my Department. The draft heads of a Bill to establish the IEC on a statutory basis are currently with the parliamentary draftsman's office for formal drafting.

The Irish National Petroleum Corporation Limited, INPC, was established in 1979 under the Companies Acts. It acquired Irish Refining PLC and Bantry Terminals Limited in the 1980s as a result of Government decisions. A third subsidiary, the National Oil Reserves Agency, was also set up under the Companies Acts but it operates on the basis of specific oil stockholding provisions set out in S.I. 96 of 1995. Future arrangements for the INPC and its subsidiaries are currently under consideration in the context of the proposed sale of its principal fixed assets – the Whitegate refinery and the Whiddy oil terminal – to a US corporation.

I have nominated the prospective board of the independent electricity transmission system operator, to be known as EirGrid. This company will be put on a statutory footing in the forthcoming statutory instrument which implements the balance of EU Directive 96/92 on the internal market in electricity.

In the area of public transport, a public transport partnership forum and a public transport accessibility committee have been set up recently in accordance with commitments given in the national development plan and the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. A committee on integrated ticketing has also been set up by my Department. There are no proposals to put either the committees or the forum on a statutory basis.

In 1998, I also established an advisory committee on telecommunications to advise on key strategic recommendations to help position Ireland as a major global centre in advanced telecom munications which was not given a statutory basis. This committee has completed the task assigned to it and no longer meets.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

313 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the committees, boards, companies or other bodies under the auspices of her Department which it is proposed to establish; if it is intended that each such body will have a statutory basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19693/00]

The following proposals for the establishment of bodies under my aegis are under consideration. The Aviation Regulation Bill, 2000, will establish a new statutory body, entitled the commission for aviation regulation. The Telecommunications (Infrastructure) Bill, 1999, contains proposals to establish a telecommunications infrastructure board on a statutory basis. I also intend to bring legislative proposals before Government to establish a commission for communications regulation on a statutory basis.

A statutory instrument, to be made in the near future, will provide for the establishment of an independent State company to act as the electricity transmission system operator. The company will be known as EirGrid.

On 31 July last, I announced that in the context of the development of a metro for Dublin, the Government had approved the drafting of legislation to establish an independent statutory agency with responsibility for the procurement, on a public-private partnership basis, of major rail based public transport projects. Preparation of the draft heads of the legislation is well advanced and I expect to bring proposals in that regard to Government for approval next month.

Legislation is currently being drafted to put in place a new framework for the regulation of railway safety, including the establishment of an independent railway safety regulatory body. I also propose to establish a statutory railway safety advisory council that will bring together railway operators, trades unions and representatives of the public interest to consider railway safety matters.

I have recently published a consultative document called A New Institutional and Regulatory Framework for Public Transport. Among the institutional changes being considered are the establishment of the following bodies, a railway infrastructure company, a railway operating company, a railway safety authority, referred to above, a national public transport authority and an interim public transport authority for bus services for the greater Dublin area, which will be established prior to the national body. All these bodies will be established on a statutory basis.