Industrial Development (Forfás Dissolution) Bill 2013: Report Stage

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 7, to delete "of Ireland".

This is a drafting amendment to remove "of Ireland" from the title of the Health and Safety Authority.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 2 to 5, inclusive, 7 and 8 may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 9, lines 26 to 28, to delete all words from and including "in" where it secondly occurs in line 26 down to and including "superannuation" in line 28 and substitute the following:

"upon and subject to such terms and conditions as are not less favourable to him or her than the terms and conditions in relation to the grant of such benefits under the superannuation scheme or arrangement".

These amendments relate to the pension conditions and clarify the terms. Under the Industrial Development Act 1993 and related legislation, Forfás is statutorily the employer of staff in Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland. These staff are employed by Forfás and seconded to the individual agencies. Parts 2 to 4 of the Bill make provision for Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland to become employers of their own staff, and Forfás staff currently on secondment to these agencies will become employees of their respective agency.

The Bill provides for each agency to establish new pension schemes in respect of staff transferring from Forfás. Amendments Nos. 2, 4 and 7 strengthen the language used in the original Bill with regard to confirming that staff who transfer to Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland will do so on no less favourable conditions of superannuation than applied under the superannuation scheme from which they are transferring.

Sections 7, 10 and 13, respectively, provide for Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland to establish new superannuation schemes in respect of staff transferring from Forfás to each of the agencies under sections 6(1), 9(1) and 12(1). It is proposed to delete the phrase relating to exercise of "discretion" through amendments Nos. 3, 5 and 8, as the new superannuation schemes to be established by these agencies, which the transferred staff will join, will include provision for the exercise of discretion by the employer.

Will the Minister absolutely guarantee that there will be no change in pension conditions for those transferring? Will the Minister comment on the current status of the pension schemes and their relevant health? Some pensions in State companies have been cut. Will the Minister give us an overview of the current standing of the relevant pension schemes?

I can certainly confirm that there is no diminution of pension entitlements. This is categorically the case. The pension scheme is pay-as-you-go and therefore is not a funded scheme. There is no issue with regard to funding.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 9, lines 29 to 31, to delete all words from and including “and” in line 29 down to and including “discretion” in line 31.

Amendment agreed to.

Section 41 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 requires the Garda Commissioner to keep the Minister and the Secretary General informed of a range of matter under four categories, namely, (i) significant developments concerning the preservation of peace and public order in the State, the protection of life and property in the State, and the protection of the security of the State; (ii) significant developments that might reasonably be expected to affect adversely public confidence in the Garda Síochána; (iii) matters relevant to the accountability of the Government to the Houses of the Oireachtas; and (iv) any other matters that, in the Commissioner's opinion, should be brought to the Minister's attention.

The purpose and effect of section 41, therefore, is to put in place a statutory framework for the provision of information by the Commissioner to the Secretary General and the Minister. A very wide range of information is provided by the Commissioner which would be covered by this section, ranging from updates on crime and security matters to the provision of material to enable the Minister to answer questions in Dáil Éireann (information of a type which in practice would have been previously provided before the enactment of section 41). In many, if not most, cases information which is supplied by the Commissioner, and which fall within the scope of section 41, might not be specifically expressed to be a communication under section 41. It is therefore not reasonably practicable to give details of the number of such communications.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 13, lines 7 to 9, to delete all words from and including “and” in line 7 down to and including “discretion” in line 9.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6, 9 and 14 are cognate and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 15, line 7, after “conditions” to insert “of service”.

This is just another group of drafting amendments. The phrase "of service" was omitted in error from each of these lines during the drafting process. It was intended to refer to "conditions of service" in each case. This applies to amendments Nos. 6, 9 and 14.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 16, lines 26 to 28, to delete all words from and including “in” where it secondly occurs in line 26 down to and including “superannuation” in line 28 and substitute the following:

“upon and subject to such terms and conditions as are not less favorable to him or her than the terms and conditions in relation to the grant of such benefits under the superannuation scheme or arrangement”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 16, lines 29 to 31, to delete all words from and including “and” in line 29 down to and including “discretion” in line 31.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 17, line 34, after “conditions” to insert “of service”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 10 to 12, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 22, line 34, to delete “Every” and substitute “Subject to subsection (2), every”.

These amendments pertain to clarifying ministerial responsibilities for pensions. The existing section 25 provides for the Minister to become responsible for the existing superannuation schemes of the dissolved body. A new subsection (2) is to be included in the Bill, which qualifies the provision of section 25 where a scheme or arrangement in respect of superannuation may not have been approved by the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform or any other Minister of the Government whose consent was required but not obtained. Section 19 of the Bill provides for the transfer of Forfás functions to the Minister and as such, the text, which is to be deleted by amendment No. 11, is superfluous. Amendment No. 12 introduces a new subsection (2), which provides that the provisions of the existing section 25, which shall now become section 25(1), if agreed, shall not apply where a scheme or arrangement in respect of superannuation may not have been approved by a relevant Minister. Amendment No. 10 qualifies the existing section 25 by making it subject to the provisions of the new subsection (2) that is to be inserted. Section 25 will now read as follows:

Superannuation schemes administered by dissolved body

25(1) Subject to subsection (2), every scheme or arrangement in relation to superannuation administered by the dissolved body immediately prior to the dissolution day shall, on and after the dissolution day, continue in force as if made by the Minister.

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to a provision of a scheme or arrangement in relation to superannuation in respect of which the consent or approval of the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform or any other Minister of the Government was required by or under any enactment but not obtained.

This is, in a sense, a safety provision. There is no term to which it is believed this provision applies.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 22, lines 36 to 38, to delete all words from and including “who” in line 36 down to and including “dissolution” in line 38.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 22, after line 38, to insert the following:

“(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to a provision of a scheme or arrangement in relation to superannuation in respect of which the consent or approval of the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform or any other Minister of the Government was required by or under any enactment but not obtained.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 22, after line 38, to insert the following:

“Administration of superannuation scheme or arrangement by relevant body on behalf of Minister

26. (1) The Minister may, for the purposes of this section, designate in writing a superannuation scheme or arrangement (in this section referred to as a “designated scheme or arrangement”) referred to in—

(a) section 25, or

(b) subsection (5)(c) of section 12 of the County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Act 2014.

(2) The Minister may require a relevant body to carry out, on his or her behalf, such pension administration services as the Minister may specify in writing in relation to a designated scheme or arrangement.

(3) A relevant body shall, when required by the Minister to do so, carry out such pension administration services as the Minister specifies in writing under subsection (2) in relation to a designated scheme or arrangement.

(4) The Minister may give directions in writing to a relevant body in relation to any pension administration service specified by him or her under subsection (2).

(5) A relevant body shall comply with any directions given by the Minister under subsection (4).

(6) Where the Minister requires a relevant body to carry out the pension administration service specified in paragraph (b) of subsection (8) in relation to a designated scheme or arrangement, the Minister shall, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, out of monies provided by the Oireachtas, provide the relevant body with a sum of money equal to the total amount of the benefits due under that paragraph to enable that body to make such payment.

(7) A relevant body shall provide such information to the Minister, relating to pension administration services which the body carries out under subsection (3), as the Minister may from time to time require.

(8) In this section—

“pension administration service” means, in relation to a designated scheme or arrangement—

(a) calculation of any superannuation benefit payable to, or in respect of, any member of that scheme or arrangement,

(b) payment on behalf of the Minister of any superannuation benefit due to, or in respect of, any member of that scheme or arrangement to the member or other person concerned,

(c) maintenance of records relating to, or in respect of, members of that scheme or arrangement, or

(d) such other service as may be specified in writing by the Minister for the purposes of administering that scheme or arrangement on his or her behalf;

“relevant body” means—

(a) Enterprise Ireland,

(b) IDA,

(c) Science Foundation Ireland, or

(d) the National Standards Authority of Ireland.”.

This amendment provides for the inclusion of a new section. It is providing that administration services in respect of superannuation will go from Forfás not to my Department but to a body of my choosing, which will be Enterprise Ireland. It also provides for the administration of pensions in respect of local enterprise offices, LEOs. I will provide the full explanation. At present, Forfás carries out the administration function for the superannuation schemes for which it has responsibility. The existing section 25 of the Bill provides for the Minister to become responsible for the existing superannuation schemes of the dissolved body. The Minister also is responsible for the pension schemes arising under section 12(5)(c) of the County Enterprise Boards (Dissolution) Act 2014. It is proposed that when the Minister assumes responsibility for these schemes, the administration function will be devolved to a relevant body - that is, an agency of the Department as defined in this proposed new section 26. This section provides for the Minister to require a relevant body to carry out such administration services on his or her behalf and sets out the arrangements to apply in this regard. As I indicated, it will be Enterprise Ireland.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 25, line 22, after “conditions” to insert “of service”.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I wish to take this opportunity to thank Deputy Calleary and the select committee for its co-operation in the passage of the Bill. It is an important reform of which, while on the benches opposite, I was always a keen advocate. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation requires an internal policy capability and this measure will facilitate the development of that. I believe it will help the Department to improve the development of enterprise policy as well as to better inform Members of the House as to the reasons, whys and wherefores of the manner in which policy is being developed. I thank Members for their support.

I acknowledge the Minister's comments and I acknowledge his role. I always thought it very strange that there was no economist available within the Department. The former Minister, Batt O'Keeffe, made some arrangements in that respect. However, Forfás did much very good work for the State in the 20 years or so of its existence. It produced a great number of reports and I thank all those who served Forfás at staff and board level. However, it is most important that the policy function of the Department, as well as the policy function that now is moving into the Department, still will retain the ability to challenge the Department and the Government on economic policy in the manner in which Forfás has done. If this ability becomes neutered in any way, I will be the first to call the Minister out on it.

I assure the Deputy that is not the Government's intention. Indeed, it is maintaining the National Competitiveness Council as an independent group, comprised largely of representatives from the private sector and other social partners, to ensure, if one will, the honesty of the Department in respect of its policy work.

Question put and agreed to.