I move amendment No. 1:
In subsection (1), after "academic post" in line 12, to add "as, in the opinion of the Minister, his principal occupation".—
In the debate on the Second Stage of the Bill I repeated some of the arguments which had been made in the other House in regard to the definition of "academic post" in the Bill. The purpose of this amendment is to ask the Minister again to look at this problem and to change his mind.
In the Dáil the Minister was asked, by amendments put down by our side, to restrict the expression "academic post" in the interpretation section to a "full-time academic post". He declined to do this saying that there were part-time people engaged in academic teaching who might be valuable members of the Authority.
It was also said during that debate in the Dáil that it might be hard to see whether somebody was full-time engaged in an academic post or not. I have tried to give the Minister another opportunity to reconsider this point by putting down an amendment which will give the Minister the discretion to decide whether the holder of an academic post holds that post as his principal occupation. There are plenty of academics who do other things besides their principal job. At the same time, their principal occupation is easily identifiable. Our view is that the academic posts defined in section 1 for the purpose of designating the academic members of the Authority ought to be people whose main occupation is in the university. I see the difficulty about insisting that they should be "full-time academics" because there scarcely is such a thing as a full-time academic— somebody who does not, on the side, do some work or involve himself in some public activity of some kind which might place the full-time quality of this job in question. It would be a reasonable compromise if the Minister were to agree to define "academic post" by reference to the principal occupation of the person holding this post.
The Minister said, and it was said by all sides in the Dáil, that there were some disciplines, notably medicine and law, in which the part-time holding of posts was common. This is perfectly true. There are certainly posts held in medicine by men whose principal occupation is in hospitals and who because of their great experience and ability are recruited by the universities on a part-time basis in order to teach medical students.
Senator Jessop may be able to explain that system better than I can. The system has existed also in the law faculty but it is a system which is being dismantled very quickly. My feeling is that the time is not far off when there will be no such thing as a part-time teacher of law who comes from the Law Library or from his solicitor's office to teach this subject except in a very subordinate way as a tutor or something of the kind. But the time is not far off when the major jobs in the teaching of law will be occupied by people whose principal occupation it is to hold those jobs.
So far as the legal end of this argument is concerned, it seems to me there is not very much force in it. Even so far as the medical end of it is concerned, or possibly the engineering end or the architectural end, I cannot see the reason for the Minister's reluctance to accept an amendment of this kind or an amendment of the kind put down in the Dáil. If the Minister wishes to have people on the Authority who are only part-time connected with the university or other institution of higher education, whose principal occupation is something different but who come in for a couple of hours every week in order to do something connected with a university course, let him appoint those people to the Authority on the non-academic side. He has got plenty of discretion to do that.
He proposes to allow himself to constitute an Authority which are to contain a minority or may contain a minority of academic members, so he has potentially got 11 places to fill on the non-academic side and he could, if he wished, if there was some outstanding doctor or lawyer whose connection with an institution of higher education was only part-time, put him on the Authority via those places. It seems to me that is the right place for them. If we are to have academic members on this Authority my feeling is that they should be people whose main commitment and whose main occupation is in the university and that they will be seen by their colleagues to have that commitment and that occupation.
I am in no way trying to press this amendment simply as a means of recognising the special status of full-time university people as distinct from part-time university people. That is not what is in my mind at all. What is in my mind is that a part-time man is not to be regarded by the people who work in the institution with him as having the same knowledge or the same committment to the institution as they have. That will reduce the confidence which his colleagues have in him as a member of the Authority.
Naturally, it will depend to some extent on the man involved and I recognise that there are part-time people whose commitment is very intense. But I am not so certain that the Minister or the Government will be able to identify these people and I am afraid—I have said this several times before in the last couple of weeks—that the Minister, if he leaves this section unamended, will open the door not for himself or for his party but for some future Minister or for some future Government to stuff or pack the Authority with people who are not academics in anything but a trivial or a secondary sense. The point has been argued sufficiently in the Dáil and the Minister knows perfectly well what the issue is, and I hope he might see his way, now that the point has been rephrased in the terms of the amendment which I am proposing, to change his mind about it.