I would adopt the same attitude as Senator O'Mahony on this section. Whatever we try to do as legislators we should not put ourselves into the position of members of the board. It will finally devolve on the board to formulate policy and that board will include worker directors who will have an input. It is important to provide something positive which would convey to the boards the view of the Legislature, that we are anxious that they would take every opportunity to go into areas of new business. I have no idea what the new business would be. Obviously it would be related to the area in which they operate at present or something akin to it. The board of CIE would welcome this kind of initiative from us. I go along totally with what the Minister said as to why this provision is in the Bill. It is important that we would convey positively in legislation that we are now placing certain requirements on the board to get up and get at it and to go forward, to involve the NDC if they want to. There is a whole range of activity available to them.
In fairness, relating this section to what happened to the hotels under the jurisdiction of CIE, I would not blame the Minister. I know that the board of CIE felt that that section they were dealing with was not totally in line with what they were doing. It was to retrieve that situation that we ensured that those hotels remained within public control and they are now functioning efficiently and profitably under the board of CERT. It is a welcome development that the Government did not sit back and allow that asset to be dispersed into the private sector where it would have become a readymade business for some hotelier to acquire and use for private purposes. The only benefit immediately would have been the capital that they would have secured in the sale and probably the hotels would have been sold cheaply.
We worked diligently through the parliamentary process to ensure the best future for those hotels.
This section is aimed at ensuring that the board of CIE know that we, as legislators, want them to be positive and up and doing in this area. If there are projects that come forward which merit the approval of the board in consultation with the Minister and using every other resource of the State, it would be a tragedy if, for lack of direction from us in the legislation, the board would say: "Can we go into that area? We have no statutory obligation to go into that area, so we will refrain. We will leave it. We will carry on and run our buses and trains around the country as heretofore."
This section is positive and does expect and request them to take advantage of every opportunity that can be profitable for the board and give a service to the people. I would leave it to the board, with this kind of positive section here, to avail of it and act accordingly. I am sure that that is what Senator Killilea also wants to happen. By having this section here what he wants to happen will happen. If we take out this section there will be no direction and plans and projects would be left on desks with people sending memos to the board saying "the Act does not require us to do anything like that and so we will not do it." This is a positive thing and I welcome the Minister's explanation of why it is included.