A number of points were raised with regard to the amendment from the Seanad. Section 11 specifies the length of time that ordinary members of the council shall serve. No reference was made in the original Bill to the term of appointment of the chairperson. This issue, as Deputy Ó Snodaigh pointed out, was raised on Report Stage in the Dáil. The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O'Donoghue, indicated that he proposed to make an amendment. It was always his intention that the chairperson should serve for a term of five years. That is what is proposed in the amendment. The Bill has been amended in the Seanad and the Dáil is asked to agree to this amendment. I welcome the fact that Deputies are in agreement and thank them for raising the issue on Report Stage.
Naturally, Deputies used the opportunity of the re-submission of the Bill to raise other issues. Deputy Deenihan raised the whole question of the size of the board and the great variety and diversity of the arts community nowadays. He asked whether the number involved would be sufficient to cater for the huge diversity of interests involved. There is no doubt there has been an increase in the variety of stakeholders in the arts community. However, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and this House have to make a practical decision as to an effective and workable body in terms of numbers.
The number has been fixed at 13 which seems an unfortunate figure about which I am superstitious. However, a balance must be struck. An odd number is always preferable and a decision can be made in the event of division of opinion. Once committees are expanded beyond a certain size, they tend to become too unwieldy. We are fortunate that under the Constitution, the number of Cabinet members is limited to 15. Successive taoisigh would have long since trespassed beyond that figure and made Government a pointless entity. Naturally, they have explored the idea of having Ministers of State in attendance in recent years. The reality is that in fixing a number, one makes a committee more effective. As Deputy Deenihan pointed out, the original figure was far smaller and there was a much greater figure in the 1970s legislation. There was a figure of 73 in the last Act. We are now fixed on a figure of 13, which in the circumstances is balanced.
Deputy Deenihan raised the issue of the reduction in funding. The Government never committed itself to financial targets in the arts plan. It was made clear that funding would come through the annual Estimates provisions. We cannot be accused of any deceptions in our undertaking to the people in this case. I will draw the Deputy's views to the attention of the Minister. Deputy Deenihan also said that the Minister's view of the legislation – this could ultimately fall to be determined by the courts – means the board is autonomous on funding decisions.
Bhí cúpla ceist ag an Teachta Ó Snodaigh. Beidh an tréimhse céanna ag an gcathaoirleach agus atá ag gnáthduine a bheith mar bhall den choiste – níl aon difríocht ann. Mar a deir an Bille in alt 11(9): "A person to whom subsection (8) applies shall not be eligible for re-appointment to the council where he or she has served two consecutive terms of office as a member of the council." Tá an cathaoirleach faoin chosc sin chomh maith.
Ar cheist na haoise, ní féidir cosc aoise a chur isteach mar tá seans go mbeadh sé míbhunreachtúil i reachtaíocht. Tagann ciall le haois agus ní féidir a rá sa Bhille go mbeadh aois éigin ann nach mbeadh duine in ann bheith mar bhall den bhord.